Date of Award:

1994

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

William R. Dobson

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Elwin Nielsen

Abstract

This study was conducted to continue the investigation of apparent differences in cognitive ii abilities between Navajo Indian children and non-Navajo children. Subjects were 248 second-grade students, ranging from 7 to 9 years old. The Navajo sample lived in the Shiprock, New Mexico, area of the Navajo Indian Reservation, and the non-Navajo sample lived on the east side of Salt Lake City, Utah. Data were collected using six tests designed to measure spatial abilities in primary grade children. Results indicated that the non-Navajo children scored significantly higher on two individual tests and on the total test score under timed conditions, with no differences between groups when timing was not a factor. Two factors were identified for both groups. Factor loadings were different between the groups. As the scoring moved from timed to extended time, it changed for the nonNavajo children but remained the same for the Navajo group. Discriminate function analysis indicated a moderate ability to predict group membership using these tests. Gender differences were noted as well, with females scoring significantly lower than males on timed but not on extended time. Some race/gender interactions also were recorded. Suggestions were made that differences may be related to varying strategies used by not only different racial groups but by both genders as well. The within-group variability indicated a need for investigation of individual differences as well as group differences. Suggestions included using a greater number of instruments, an exploration of strategies, and using a examiner familiar to the students.

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