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.


Available from: Tracy Packiam Alloway, Nov 09, 2014
    • "Working memory may be one suitable candidate for early assessment, as it can be tested reliably in children as early as 4 years of age (Alloway, Gathercole, Willis, & Adams, 2004). Moreover, working memory at the start of formal education was found to be a more powerful predictor of subsequent academic success than intelligence quotient (IQ; Alloway & Alloway, 2010). However, which of the working memory's components are related to the development of reading requires further examination. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated the relations of early working-memory abilities (phonological and visual-spatial short-term memory [STM] and complex memory and episodic buffer memory) and later developing reading skills. Sixty Hebrew-speaking children were followed from kindergarten through Grade 5. Working memory was tested in kindergarten and reading in Grades 1, 2, and 5. All memory measures, but phonological STM, correlated with reading up to Grade 5. Regression analyses (with intelligence quotient controlled) demonstrated that phonological complex memory predicted all reading skills in Grade 1, and accuracy in Grade 2. The rather understudied visual-spatial memory predicted comprehension in Grades 2 (STM) and 5 (complex memory). The results point to an important role of the phonological complex memory in early assessment, and suggest a long-lasting role of early visual-spatial memory in predicting variance in reading. Whether this role of the visual-spatial memory is unique to the Hebrew orthography because of its visual features requires, however, further investigation.
    Mind Brain and Education 09/2015; 9(3). DOI:10.1111/mbe.12084 · 1.35 Impact Factor
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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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