Algebra and geometry are important components of mathematics that are often considered gatekeepers for future success. However, most studies that have researched the cognitive skills required for success in mathematics have only considered the domain of arithmetic. We extended models of mathematical skills to consider how executive function skills play both a direct role in secondary-school-level mathematical achievement as well as an indirect role via algebra and geometry, alongside arithmetic. We found that verbal and visuospatial working memory were indirectly associated with mathematical achievement via number fact knowledge, calculation skills, algebra and geometry. Inhibition was also indirectly associated with mathematical achievement via number fact knowledge and calculation skills. These findings highlight that there are multiple mechanisms by which executive function skills may be involved in mathematics outcomes. Therefore, using specific measures of mathematical processes as well as context-rich assessments of mathematical achievement is important to understand these mechanisms.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by an Action Medical Research (Ref: GN2311) project grant. CG is funded by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship.
© 2023 Spiller et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
- Academic Success
- Executive Function/physiology
- Inhibition, Psychological
- Memory, Short-Term/physiology