WM and Learning

Working Memory is the Engine of Learning

Working memory is a cognitive function that is crucial for success in all settings. But one of the most important roles working memory plays is in learning. Studies demonstrate the importance of a strong working memory for reading comprehension, mathematics, test taking, impulse control, and other aspects related to understanding and retaining new information.

Review the research below to see how working memory is starting to be seen as one of the strongest indicators of academic success. The studies below are not about Cogmed training, but rather about the importance of working memory for learning.

YearPublicationTitleAuthorAbstract
1990IntelligenceReasoning ability is (little more than) working-memory capacity?!Kyllonen & ChristalLink to abstract
2000British Journal of Educational PsychologyWorking memory deficits in children with low achievements in the national curriculum at seven years of age.Gathercole & PickeringLink to abstract
2003Educational and Child PsychologyVerbal and non-verbal working memory and achievements on national curriculum tests at 11 and 14 years of age.Jarvis & GathercoleLink to abstract
2003Educational and Child PsychologyWorking memory assessments at school entry as longitudinal predictors of National Curriculum attainment levels.Gathercole & PickeringLink to abstract
2004Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal BehaviorIndividual differences in working memory and reading.Daneman and CarpenterLink to abstract
2004Applied Cognitive PsychologyWorking memory skills and educational attainment: Evidence from National Curriculum assessments at 7 and 14 years of age.Gathercole & PickeringLink to abstract
2005Educational and Child PsychologyWorking memory abilities in children with special educational needs.Alloway & GathercoleLink to abstract
2005British Journal of Developmental PsychologyWorking memory and phonological awareness as predictors of progress towards early learning goals at school entry.Alloway & GathercoleLink to abstract
2006Quarterly Journal of Experimental PsychologyExecutive functions and achievements on national curriculum tests: Shifting, updating, inhibition, and working memory.St Clair-Thompson & GathercoleLink to abstract
2006Working Memory and Children’s Mathematical Skills: Implications for mathematical development and mathematics curriculaHolmes & AdamsLink to abstract
2006Journal of Experimental Child PsychologyWorking memory in children with reading disabilities.Gathercole & AllowayLink to abstract
2008Applied Cognitive PsychologyWorking memory abilities and children's performance in laboratory analogues of classroom activities.Gathercole & DurlingLink to abstract
2008Learning and Individual DifferencesAttentional and executive function behaviours of children with poor working memory.Gathercole & AllowayLink to abstract
2010Working memory and mathematics: A review of developmental, individual difference, and cognitive approaches Raghubar et al.Link to abstract
2011The association between working memory and educational attainment as measured in different mathematical subtopics in the Swedish national assessment: primary education Nyroos & Wiklund-HörnqvistLink to abstract