SELECTIVE ATTENTION IN LOWER AND MIDDLE CLASS GOOD AND POOR READERS
GILBERT, SHARON ROSE
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The purpose of the present study was to examine the development of selective attention in a lower and middle class, learning disabled and normal population. Selective attention was defined as the ability to focus one's attention on the relevant aspects of a task, those aspects that would lead to successful performance, while ignoring the irrelevant aspects. A modified version of Hagen's Central-Incidental task was used to measure selective attention along with a measure of selective attention efficiency, defined as the difference between the percentages of the central and incidental scores.;The task was administered to 96 lower and middle class subjects, 48 learning disabled and 48 controls. Subjects were further subdivided into two age groups, a younger group (ages 8-9) and an older group (ages 11-12). There were eight groups in all, each comprised of 12 subjects.;Subjects were presented with 14 trials of a 7 card serial recall task composed of stimuli containing animal pictures on the bottom and common household items on the top. They were told to pay attention, only, to the order in which they saw the animals. Cards were placed face down before them. A probe care containing an animal only was then presented and the subject was asked to point to it in the series before him. The incidental task followed immediately. The subject was presented with a large card containing all seven animal pictures only and asked to match them with the pictures of the household objects they'd always been paired. A control for the amount of exposure to stimuli was instituted in the feedback procedure.;The findings showed no differences between lower and middle class children in their selective attention skills or learning disabled and control subjects. Additionally, the course of development of selective attention in learning disabled and normal subjects was similar. Selective attention increased with age for both groups when central and incidental tasks were compared. The selective attention efficiency measure, however, did not pick up the age-related improvement in selective attention in the normal population. Questions were raised regarding the use of Hagen's task to measure selective attention.
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