Predicting School Success in Children Born at Risk

Project Code: 10476192

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Dist Prof Jane Harding

Application open date: 27 May 2021

Application deadline: 31 Dec 2021

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


Executive function refers to the cognitive control of selecting and successfully monitoring behaviours that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals. Executive function is a strong predictor of education success and is related to but distinct from behaviour and intelligence. 

The CHYLD study recruited infants born at risk of low glucose concentrations (late preterm, high or low birthweight, infants of diabetic mothers), and assessed their development at ages 2, 4.5, and 9-10 years. Although these infants were not considered to require any extra oversight after the newborn period, at 9-10 years half of the cohort were underachieving at school.

This project will investigator the mediators and predictors of school success, with the objective of identifying opportunities for early remediation.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

Candidates must meet the entrance criteria for a masters or doctoral degree at the University of Auckland.

Interest and experience in child development or education eg education, psychology, social work, developmental therapy, paediatric nursing, paediatrics would also be beneficial.



In CHYLD study participants:

  1. How do tests of academic achievement using the standardised asTTle relate to different aspects of executive function?
  2. Does executive function at 2, 4.5 or 9-10 years of age mediate or predict educational achievement at 9-10 years?
  3. What are the other predictors of educational achievement at school age? Using neural network analysis, which factors (i.e., physical, cognitive, and social) predict those outcomes?
  4. Are there trajectories of executive function (children who got better/worse) from ages 2 to 9-10 years?
Other information

Scholarship available for suitably qualified candidates.

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