Original Research-Special Collection: Teaching and learning: mathematics, science, design, technology in the Early Years

Perceptual-motor contributors to the association between developmental coordination disorder and academic performance: North-West Child Health, Integrated with Learning and Development study

Elna de Waal, Anita E. Pienaar, Dané Coetzee
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 8, No 2 | a562 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v8i2.562 | © 2018 Elna De Waal, Anita E. Pienaar, Dané Coetzee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 July 2017 | Published: 20 September 2018

About the author(s)

Elna de Waal, School of Human Movement Sciences, North-West University, South Africa
Anita E. Pienaar, School of Human Movement Sciences, North-West University, South Africa
Dané Coetzee, School of Human Movement Sciences, North-West University, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) portray motor coordination and perceptual difficulties which can hamper daily activity and academic task execution.

Aim: This study examined the association between DCD and academic performance, and explored which perceptual and motor coordination skills had the largest contribution to academic performance.

Setting: Ten-year-old children (N = 221, 10.05 years + 0.41 standard deviation) who formed part of the North-West Child Health, Integrated with Learning and Development (NW-CHILD) longitudinal study in South Africa were randomly selected to participate.

Methods: Motor coordination, visual-motor integration and academic achievement were assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2, the Beery–Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration-4, and national and mid-year assesments respectively. Spearman Rank order correlations and stepwise regression analyses were used to respectively determine significant associations and unique contributors.

Results: All perceptual and coordination skills differed between children with and without DCD, although only visual perception and manual dexterity showed overall correlations with academic performance in children with DCD. Visual perception also correlated strongly with maths (r = 0.26) and with the grade point average (r = 0.31) in children with and without DCD (r = 0.33, r = 0.45). The highest contribution to the total variance (23.11%) in math performance was explained by visual perception (22.04%), while visual perception contributed to 16.36% of 18.17% in the grade point average.

Conclusion: Children with DCD display significantly inferior visual-perceptual and coordination skills of which visual perception and manual dexterity influence academic performance (especially maths), negatively.


Keywords

Coordination disorder; visual perception; motor development; academic achievement; cognitive development

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