Working memory skills and educational attainment: Evidence from National Curriculum assessments at 7 and 14 years of age

Research title: Working memory skills and educational attainment: Evidence from National Curriculum assessments at 7 and 14 years of age

Researchers: Susan E. Gathercole, Susan J. Pickering, Camilla Knight, and Zoe Stegmann

Published: Applied Cognitive Psychology

National curriculum assessments in the UK are administered in every state school for children at age 7, 11, and 14. The researchers in this study wanted to see how working memory capacity influenced scores in English, as well as Math and Science – and how the correlation compared to the results from children taking the stage one test at age 7 – and children taking the stage three test at age 14.

The study showed that working memory capacity was a significant predictor of scores in both English, as well as math and science at age 7 – and that this was the same at age 14 for Math and Science, but not for English.

The researchers concluded that working memory is a key indicator of academic success for children of all ages, but that English/literary skills are more dependent on working memory at an earlier age.