Lerarenopleidingen Science en Wiskunde/Rekenen

Explaining variation in mathematics achievement

Proefschrift Marije Huijsmans

Mei 2021

Explaining variation in mathematics achievement. Characteristics of children with and without mathematical learning difficulties. Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen. 978-94-6421-302-7


Research on math learning problems is – in comparison to research on reading problems – quite limited. Especially the different cognitive phenotypes of the heterogeneous group of mathematics learning disorder (MLD) and its subtype developmental dyscalculia (DD) are unclear, which also applies for the interplay between MLD and reading disabilities (RD). Whereas specific combinations of math and cognitive factors, reading and cognitive factors, and math and reading have been investigated, studies including all three combinations are scarce. Moreover, knowledge about the development – in terms of stability and change – is especially limited. Therefore, the goals of the present research project are 1) to identify the behavioural profiles of MLD and DD including underlying cognitive mechanisms of these learning disabilities (study 1), 2) to investigate whether shared cognitive risk factors (e.g., working memory, phonological processing skills) can be identified to explain the co-morbidity between MLD and RD (study 3), and 3) to investigate the stability of the behavioural and cognitive profiles within the group of children with MLD (study 2 and 4). Longitudinal studies with three measurement points over 1.5 years (i.e., one measurement each eight months) will be conducted, including approximately 300 primary school children, in the period that the mathematics curriculum changes from basic to advanced math (grade 4-5). Overall, the present research project will contribute to more profound knowledge on the behavioural and cognitive profiles of MLD and DD, and the comorbidity between MLD and RD. This, in turn, will ultimately result in more accurate diagnosis and more appropriate treatment for children with learning disabilities.


ELWIeR en Ecent als één STEM