Psychological and psychobiological stress in the relationship between basic cognitive function and school performance
This study analyses the role played by daily stress, assessed through self-report and at the psychobiological level, in relation to basic cognitive function when predicting school performance. The sample comprised 100 schoolchildren (55 girls and 45 boys, age range 8 to 11 years) from a state school in the city of Malaga (Spain). Daily stress was assessed through the Children’s Daily Stress Inventory (IIEC in Spanish; Trianes et al., 2009). Psychobiological stress was measured through the cortisol/DHEAS ratio, derived from saliva samples taken in the morning on two consecutive days. Basic cognitive skills were assessed by means of the Computerized Cognitive Assessment System (CDR battery; Wesnes et al., 2003, 2000). Finally, the measure of school performance was the mean value of the final grades recorded in the child’s school report. In addition to descriptive and correlational statistical analyses, multiple regression analyses were conducted in order to assess the model. The results show that children’s daily stress self-reported contributes to predict school performance, and has proven to be more influential than basic cognitive function when it comes to predict school performance. Therefore, in order to achieve good school performance, a pupil not only requires good basic cognitive function, but must also present low levels of self-reported daily stress. These findings suggest a new way of explaining and predicting school failure.
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