According to McClelland, if children are to do well in school and have a chance at a good education, they must also possess the ability to self-regulate.
Self-regulation involves the child being able to control his/her own thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and is dependent on cognitive abilities such as attention, memory and impulse control. Megan McClelland’s research has shown conclusively that children's capacity for self-regulation is essential for good academic performances in school and in further education.
One of her most recent studies shows that children who were assessed as having good stamina, attention and concentration at 4 years of age had a 50 percent higher chance of completing a bachelor’s degree before they were 25 years old.
The study also reveals that children's early abilities in maths and reading were not as helpful in predicting whether they would go on to pursue higher education. McClelland suggests that exercising self-regulation at an early age can have positive, long-term effects for schooling and education. Her study has received much attention in the global media and has also been mentioned in The New York Times.
Here you can see an interview with Megan McClelland when she recently visited the Skoleklar project (Preparing for school in Norwegian daycare centres) at the Centre for Behavioural Research, University of Stavanger.
Text: Ingunn Størksen
Translation: Shalini Frøiland