Consolidation time-point in a grapho-motor skill learning task is a predictor of academic achievements in kindergarten and grade two children in concurrent and consecutive years

Julius, M. & Adi-Japha, E.

Bar Ilan University Israel

Procedural learning is a core skill that has not been studied yet in the context of academic achievements. In a longitudinal study, procedural learning of 56 children in kindergarten and grade two was assessed using the invented letter task (ILT). The ILT is a simple letter like task, typical of children's activities and is performed on a digitizing tablet. Speed and accuracy of performance were measured at four time points: pre-training (baseline), post-training, 24 hours post-training (consolidation) and two weeks post-training (retention). The acquisition of the ILT demonstrated learning and consolidation enhancement. Writing speed, writing legibility and academic achievements in math were tested concomitantly and the following year. Reading and spelling were assessed the following year as well. Stepwise regression indicated that among the level of performance of the baseline, consolidation and retention testing, the consolidation phase performance showed the highest predictive value. The ILT contributed significantly to the prediction of writing speed in the first and second year and of writing legibility, math, reading and spelling in the second year. Our findings suggest that procedural learning, specifically the consolidation performance assessed using the invented letter task, may be used in early school years to predict later academic achievements.