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Domain-Specific Inhibitory Control Training to Improve Children’s Learning of Counterintuitive Concepts in Mathematics and Science.

Wilkinson, Hannah R., Smid, Claire, Morris, Su, Farran, Emily K., Dumontheil, Iroise, Mayer, Sveta, Tolmie, Andrew, Bell, Derek, Porayska-Pomsta, Kaśka, Holmes, Wayne , Mareschal, Denis and Thomas, Michael S. C. (2019) Domain-Specific Inhibitory Control Training to Improve Children’s Learning of Counterintuitive Concepts in Mathematics and Science. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement.

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Evidence from cognitive neuroscience suggests that learning counterintuitive concepts in mathematics and science requires inhibitory control (IC). This prevents interference from misleading perceptual cues and naïve theories children have built from their experiences of the world. Here, we (1) investigate associations between IC, counterintuitive reasoning, and academic achievement and (2) evaluate a classroom-based computerised intervention, called Stop &amp; Think, designed to embed IC training within the learning domain (i.e. mathematics and science content from the school curricula). Cross-sectional analyses of data from 627 children in Years 3 and 5 (7- to 10-year-olds) demonstrated that IC, measured on a Stroop-like task, was associated with counterintuitive reasoning and mathematics and science achievement. A subsample (n = 456) participated either in Stop &amp; Think as a whole-class activity (teacher-led, STT) or using individual computers (pupil-led, STP), or had teaching as usual (TAU). For Year 3 children (but not Year 5), Stop &amp; Think led to better counterintuitive reasoning (i.e. near transfer) in STT (p < .001, ηp2 = .067) and STP ((p < .01, ηp < .01, ηp 2 = .041) compared to TAU. Achievement data was not available for Year 3 STP or Year 5 STT. For Year 3, STT led to better science achievement (i.e. far transfer) compared to TAU (< .05, ηp2 = .077).There was no transfer to the Stroop-like measure of IC. Overall, these findings support the idea that IC may contribute to counterintuitive reasoning and mathematics and science achievement. Further, we provide preliminary evidence of a domain-specific IC intervention with transferable benefits to academic achievement for Year 3 children.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Wilkinson, Hannah R.
Smid, Claire
Morris, Su
Farran, Emily
Dumontheil, Iroise
Mayer, Sveta
Tolmie, Andrew
Bell, Derek
Porayska-Pomsta, Kaśka
Holmes, Wayne
Mareschal, Denis
Thomas, Michael S. C.
Date : 12 December 2019
Funders : Wellcome Trust, Education Endowment Foundation
DOI : 10.1007/s41465-019-00161-4
Copyright Disclaimer : © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Uncontrolled Keywords : Cognitive training; Counterintuitive reasoning; Inhibitory control; Mathematics achievement; Misconceptions Science achievement Technology-enhanced learning
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 24 Jan 2020 15:03
Last Modified : 24 Apr 2020 14:55

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