Given the importance of basic memory skills for success in school, it is essential that we understand the development of a range of component skills that (1) affect the acquisition of knowledge and strategy use, (2) emerge in the context of the classroom, (3) are transformed over time into the study skills that are needed for progress in school, and (4) are related to measures of academic achievement. To examine the developmental course of these skills and the factors that affect their development, we have carried out both longitudinal and experimental research on the key role of teachers' Cognitive Processing Language (CPL). This language is rich in references to metacognition, cognitive processes, and requests for remembering, and is important for the development of memory strategies and later study skills as well as for the acquisition of knowledge in specific content domains, including mathematics.
In the present study, we will establish two cohorts of 100 children in North Carolina and track them longitudinally from kindergarten through the beginning of Grade 2 (total sample n=200). Children will be assessed with a rich battery of cognitive and academic measures. At the same time, observations will be made during instruction in language arts and mathematics, in-depth interviews with teachers will be conducted, and measures of the home environment will be obtained. Moreover, the study is designed to make use of recently-developed quantitative methods to provide rigorous tests of linkages between CPL and children's cognitive and academic outcomes, as well as child-, home-, and teacher-level moderators of these associations. Growth models will be used to estimate trajectories within and across grades, and will permit the testing of higher order interactions to assess moderation. The results of this work will lead to the eventual development of an intervention that can impact children's success in school.