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; DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2009.11.003

ABSTRACT 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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Nov 9, 2014