Professor to Study Gender Differences in Cognitive Ability Influences on Writing Achievement

Image Daniel Hajovsky Daniel Hajovsky, assistant professor of school psychology in the USD School of Education, will lead a research project that may help identify learning disabilities in students.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- A University of South Dakota School of Education assistant professor will lead a team from USD and elsewhere that will research how student cognitive abilities impact writing achievement and how it’s different for boys and girls across school-age development.

Daniel Hajovsky, Ph.D., assistant professor of school psychology in the counseling and psychology in education division, will use a $10,000 research grant from the Woodcock Institute for the Advancement of Neurocognitive Research and Applied Practice.

Joining Hajovsky are USD school psychology doctoral students Ethan Villeneuve and Brittany Lewno and researchers from the University of Kansas and the University of Texas-Austin. They will study which specific aspects of cognitive abilities, such as processing speed, working memory and visual-spatial ability, influence writing achievement, and whether those influences show a developmental pattern over time between males and females or both.

Girls have typically demonstrated an advantage in writing compared to boys, with that advantage increasing over time. The study will investigate which cognitive abilities contribute to that advantage using a popular set of intelligence and achievement batteries.

The findings offer a unique contribution to school psychologists as schools grapple with how to identify learning disabilities.

Download a photo of Hajovsky.

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