Investigating the predictive roles of working memory and IQ in academic attainment

Department of English Literature, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9JZ, UK
Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.12). 05/2010; 106(1):20-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.11.003


There is growing evidence for the relationship between working memory and academic attainment. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether working memory is simply a proxy for IQ or whether there is a unique contribution to learning outcomes. The findings indicate that children’s working memory skills at 5 years of age were the best predictor of literacy and numeracy 6 years later. IQ, in contrast, accounted for a smaller portion of unique variance to these learning outcomes. The results demonstrate that working memory is not a proxy for IQ but rather represents a dissociable cognitive skill with unique links to academic attainment. Critically, we find that working memory at the start of formal education is a more powerful predictor of subsequent academic success than IQ. This result has important implications for education, particularly with respect to intervention.

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Available from: Tracy Packiam Alloway, Nov 09, 2014
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    • "In addition, results showed significant differences in ELS favoring the IG (IG, M ¼ 21.19; CG, M ¼ 20.06), thus supporting our second hypothesis. These results confirm observations made in other studies (e.g., Alloway et al., 2013; St Clair-Thompson & Holmes, 2008; St Clair-Thompson et al., 2010) that showed that WM can be strengthened in children at an early age and that stimulation produces a positive effect on the development of ELS (e.g., Alloway et al., 2013). The correlations between WM and ELS at pre-and posttest also support the relationship described in previous studies (e.g., Adams & Gathercole, 2000; Welsh et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Research Findings: The present study evaluated the impact of a working memory (WM) stimulation program on the development of WM and early literacy skills (ELS) in preschoolers from socioeconomically deprived rural and urban schools in Chile. The sample consisted of 268 children, 144 in the intervention group and 124 in the comparison group. The computer-based intervention comprised 16 sessions of 30 min each. Children in the intervention group demonstrated significantly more progress in WM than those in the comparison group when we evaluated them 3 months after exposure to the program and controlled for initial differences with an analysis of covariance. ELS were significantly stronger in children who were exposed to the stimulation program, which supports a link between WM and ELS. Practice or Policy: Results suggest that children’s WM can be improved from an early age regardless of socioeconomic context or geographic location (rural or urban). This has direct implications for early education and may compensate for some of the difficulties that children experience when starting school.
    Early Education and Development 05/2015; 26(5):1-22. DOI:10.1080/10409289.2015.1036346 · 0.84 Impact Factor
    • "Rost & Hanses, 1997), and given that achievement is influenced by WM (e.g. Alloway & Alloway, 2010), we expected students' achievement to mediate the link between WM and teachers' decisions about giftedness (Hypothesis 2). "
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    ABSTRACT: Teacher nominations are often used in school settings to identify gifted children. However, although high intelligence is part of almost all definitions of giftedness, prior research has consistently shown that not all children nominated as gifted by teachers have high intelligence. In order to further understand the characteristics of these students, we herein explore the role of another cognitive construct, namely working memory (WM). In a sample comprising N = 81 fourth graders, both WM and intelligence showed the same predictive value for characterizing teacher-nominated gifted children, pointing to the importance of the thus-far-unattended WM for characterizing these students.
    High Ability Studies 05/2015; 26(1):1-18. DOI:10.1080/13598139.2015.1033513 · 0.42 Impact Factor
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    • "[13]). Alloway and Alloway [14] showed that working memory is even a better predictor for academic success than intelligence. Thus working memory is also a strong predictor for reading and mathematical skills [15]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The utilization of game elements in a non-game context is currently used in a vast range of different domains. However, research on game elements' effects in cognitive tasks is still sparse. Thus, in this study we implemented three game elements, namely, progress bar, level indicator, and a thematic setting, in a working memory training task. We evaluated the impact of game elements on user performance and perceived state of flow when compared to a conventional version of the task. Participants interacting with game elements showed higher scores in the working memory training task than participants from a control group who completed the working memory training task without the game elements. Moreover, game elements facilitated the individuals' performance closer to their maximum working memory capacity. Finally, the perceived flow did not differ between the two groups, which indicates that game elements can induce better performance without changing the perception of being " in the zone " , that is without an increase in anxiety or boredom. This empirical study indicates that certain game elements can improve the performance and efficiency in a working memory task by increasing users' ability and willingness to train at their optimal performance level.
    02/2015; 2(1). DOI:10.17083/ijsg.v2i1.60
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