- A growing body of research suggests that behavioral self-regulation skills are critical for early
school success. However, few studies have explored the links between self-regulation and
academic achievement among young children in Europe. This study examined the contribution of
behavioral self-regulation to academic achievement gains among young children in France,
Germany, and Iceland. Gender differences in behavioral self-regulation skills were also explored.
A total of 260 children were followed longitudinally over one to two years (average age at Wave
1 was 74.5 months). Behavioral self-regulation was assessed using a structured direct observation
(Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task) and teachers assessed how well children could apply
behavioral self-regulation in the classroom. Multilevel analyses revealed that higher levels of
directly assessed and teacher ratings of behavioral self-regulation predicted higher academic
skills after controlling for gender, age, maternal education, and previous achievement, but the
relations depended on the cultural context. Also, teacher ratings of behavioral self-regulation
were more consistently related to achievement gains than directly assessed behavioral self-regulation.
Girls outperformed boys only in the Icelandic sample, which may explain the
noticeably large gender differences in later academic achievement in this country. We discuss
universal and culture-specific findings as well as implications for educational practices.
- Gestsdottir, S., von Suchodoletz, A., Wanless, S. B., Hubert, B., Guimard, P., Birgisdottir, F., ... & McClelland, M. (2014). Early Behavioral Self-Regulation, Academic Achievement, and Gender: Longitudinal Findings From France, Germany, and Iceland. Applied Developmental Science, 18(2), 90-109. doi:10.1080/10888691.2014.894870
|Funding Statement (additional comments about funding)
- The French project was financed by the research group “Technological Research in Education.” The German project was financed by a
grant given to the research group “The Empirics of Education: Economic and Behavioral Perspectives” within the context of the
German Excellence Initiative at the University of Freiburg. The Icelandic project was supported by grants from the Icelandic Research
Fund and the University of Iceland Research Fund to the study “Development in Early Childhood: Self-Regulation, Language
Development and Literacy.”