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Effects of father absence on scholastic aptitude and achievement Simpson, Richard Lee

Abstract

A study was carried out to assess the effect of parental absence upon a child's subsequent verbal and numerical aptitude. The primary focus was on father-separated children (both male and female), but small samples of students who had been separated from mother or from both parents were included. Age of separation (up to six years old), and length of separation (three months or longer), were the primary independent variables investigated. The necessary information was obtained from questionnaires that were mailed to approximately 1,000 first year University of B.C. students (academic session 1967-68). The age and length of separation was subsequently verified in a separate letter to the parents. Verbal and numerical aptitude was measured by the Cooperative School and College Ability Test (SCAT), and the achievement scores obtained in first year university English and Mathematics courses. The father-separated male students demonstrated greater aptitude in verbal abilities relative to numerical abilities. The length of the separation was insignificant, but a separation after the child was eighteen months old produced a greater increase in verbal skills (relative to numerical ability), than a separation before eighteen months. Father-separated male students attained a higher mean score in the first year English course than students from intact homes. There was no significant difference between mean mathematical scores obtained by the two groups. The presence or absence of brothers in the homes of father-separated males did not significantly affect aptitude development. Father-separated female students demonstrated greater proficiency in verbal abilities relative to numerical abilities. This superiority of verbal aptitude relative to numerical aptitude was significantly higher than that demonstrated by girls who had not been separated from a parent. The results for the two independent variables, age and length of separation, were similar to those observed for males. The samples of students who were separated from mother or both parents during childhood were too small to permit meaningful analyses. Some interesting trends in the data were discussed.

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