Working Memory

As Baddeley carried out an experiment testing the storage capacity of Short Term Memory, he found participants were able to carry on with one activity while performing another. As per his study, he found out “that participants were able to read while remembering numbers.” (Goldstein., p131, 2011) Baddeley concluded that short term processing must be active and must also consist of a several different components that can work separately. Through his understanding, he proposed a model in which a short-term component of the memory is the working memory. This model, the Braddeley’s working memory model, consists of three components which are the phonological loop, the visuospatial sketch pad, and the central executive. All three components are involved in the manipulation of information while complex cognition.
In other words, working memory allows us to focus on memory while in action, which gives us the ability to remember and use relevant information while in the middle of an activity. Working memory is defined as a “limited system for temporary storage and manipulation of information for complex tasks such as comprehension, learning and reasoning.” (Goldstein., p131, 2011) But what is more interesting is how focusing on the development of our working memory from an early age, can influence how we learn.
New research from Doctors Rapport, Tannock, and Fassbender/Schweitzer has brought to light that “A child’s success in all aspects of learning comes down to how good their working memory is regardless of their IQ score.” (UCanLearn, 2014) This means that developing a good working memory in a child’s early years, before the start of their formal education may have a more powerful impact in the child’s academic success than simply focusing on IQ score. Furthermore, the study also suggests that environmental influences, such as a family’s education or socio-economic background does not influence working memory; therefore children can have the same potential opportunity if working memory is enhanced or more developed.
When we think of working memory as a key factor of how children learn, I think it’s important to assess children with this in mind, especially as “Many children that had been thought to be lazy or underachievers really were found to have poor working memory ability.” (UCanLearn, 2014) I think this study can help parents focus on trying to identify whether children need to develop their working memory more, before assuming a lower IQ. It will also help parents pay attention to how their children are developing their working memory and look for memory exercises or games. Additionally, the study has identified that “with early identification and formalized memory training, these poor memory skills can improve and problems in ADHD, math, reading comprehension and overall learning speed also improved!” (UCanLearn, 2014)
Goldstein, B. (2011). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience, 3rd Edition. (pp.131) Wadsworth, Inc.
“Is Working Memory More Important than IQ?” UCanLearn. UCanLearn, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Dec. 2014. <>.

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