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Video and slides available – Emerging Longitudinal Scholars: Longitudinal trends in children’s development

The first webinar in our 2024 Emerging Longitudinal Scholars (ELS) series focused on longitudinal trends in children’s development. Videos and slides from speakers Kate Mooney and Cátia Margarida Ferreira de Oliveira are available below.

About the webinar

Chaired by CLOSER Research Fellow, Dr Neil Kaye, our ELS webinar series provides a collaborative platform for fostering knowledge exchange and showcasing research by early career researchers using UK longitudinal population study data.

This ELS webinar focused on longitudinal trends in children’s development with talks from Kate Mooney and Cátia Margarida Ferreira de Oliveira both based at the University of York.  

Watch the videos from this webinar

Longitudinal pathways between socioeconomic status and educational attainment: mediation by executive functions and processing speed – Kate Mooney (University of York)

Download the slides [PDF]: Longitudinal pathways between socioeconomic status and educational attainment

There are large and persistent social inequalities in children’s educational attainment, with children from more socioeconomically disadvantaged families consistently having lower attainment. Despite this being widely reported, the mechanisms underlying the association between socioeconomic disadvantage and educational attainment are not well understood. Children’s executive functions (including working memory and inhibition) and processing speed abilities may underlie these inequalities, however, previous literature regarding this is limited.  

This study therefore examined the association between socioeconomic status and educational attainment via executive functions and processing speed, using UK cohort study data from Born in Bradford (n=4201; 28% White British, 56% Pakistani heritage, 16% Other; 54% Female). Socioeconomic status was measured before birth, executive functions and processing speed were measured in childhood (Mage=8.45 years), and educational attainment was obtained through educational records (Mage=10.85 years). All models adjusted for child gender, age, language ability, ethnicity, and parent immigration status. 

Using a Structural Equation Model (SEM), we found that executive functions significantly mediated the association between SES and educational attainment (B=0.109), whilst processing speed did not. In a separate SEM examining different components of executive function, working memory significantly mediated the association between SES and educational attainment (B=.100), whilst inhibition did not.  

This study reveals working memory as a potential mechanism underlying the strong association between socioeconomic status and later educational attainment. Targeting working memory in a classroom setting has the potential to improve educational outcomes for children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, hence, future research should test such interventions to establish whether these associations are causal.

Understanding the downstream effects of early sleep for vocabulary, academic achievement mental health in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children and Born in Bradford longitudinal samples – Cátia Margarida Ferreira de Oliveira (University of York)

Download the slides [PDF]: Understanding the downstream effects of preschool sleep for vocabulary, education and mental health outcomes in the ALSPAC and BiB longitudinal samples

Sleep in the early years is a dynamic process characterised by a period of transition in which daytime sleep reduces and gradually consolidates into nighttime sleep. A considerable percentage of infants under five years of age have difficulties with sleep (10-29%), and these sleep problems are negatively associated with multiple aspects of children’s cognition, school performance, and mental health. Despite this evidence, longitudinal research examining whether early sleep difficulties persist across development and predict later outcomes remains scarce.

Our research aims to assess the stability of sleep over development via secondary data analysis of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

In this sample, sleep characteristics were assessed through questionnaires filled by the mother from 6 months (N=11485) to 9 years (N=7882) and by adolescents at 15 years (N=5515).

Preliminary results from exploratory factor analyses at each time point in the first half of the dataset suggest that sleep characteristics (sleep routine, bedtime/wakeup time, number of night awakenings and sleep behaviours) load into two separate factors – the first capturing sleep quality behaviours and the second pertaining to aspects of the sleep routine. These observations were cross-validated in the second half of the dataset. Next, longitudinal measurement invariance will be assessed before fitting a growth mixture model, which will clarify whether these aspects of sleep are stable across development and predictive of later sleep.

We will then examine whether sleep trajectories are predictive of vocabulary, academic achievement, and mental health across childhood and adolescence. 

Other webinars in this series

Registration is open for all upcoming sessions in our 2024 ELS webinar series:

Further information

If you have any questions, or require further information, please contact CLOSER Digital Communications and Events Manager, Jennie Blows (j.blows@ucl.ac.uk)