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Working Memory Training and the Effect on Mathematical Achievement in Children with Attention Deficits and Special Needs
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Special Education.
2013 (English)In: Journal of Education and Learning, ISSN 1927-5250, Vol. 2, no 1, 118-133 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Working Memory (WM) has a central role in learning. It is suggested to be malleable and is considerednecessary for several aspects of mathematical functioning. This study investigated whether work with aninteractive computerised working memory training programme at school could affect the mathematicalperformance of young children. Fifty-seven children with attention deficits participated in an interventionprogramme. The treatment group trained daily, for 30-40 min. at school for five weeks, while the control groupdid not get any extra training. Looking at the group as a whole, mathematical performance improved in thetreatment group compared with the control group directly following the five weeks of training (Time 2), but theresults of the second post-test (Time 3, approximately seven months later) were no longer significant. Since therewas only a small number of girls, the results were analysed for boys only. The boys had improved theirmathematical results in both post-tests. WM-measures improved at Time 2 and 3 relative to Time 1 (pre-test) forthe whole group, and for boys. Differences in training scores were related to differences in the non-verbalWM-measure Span board back.

The results indicate that boys aged 9 to 12 with special needs may benefit, over time, from WM training, asshown in the enhanced results in mathematics following WM training. However, as the intervention and controlgroups were not randomised, the results cannot be generalised; the results must be considered with caution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 2, no 1, 118-133 p.
Keyword [en]
working memory training (WM training), attention, mathematics, special needs
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Special Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-87599DOI: 10.5539/jel.v2n1p118OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-87599DiVA: diva2:604971
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 10061
Available from: 2013-02-12 Created: 2013-02-12 Last updated: 2013-05-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Does It Pay to Practice?: A Quasi-Experimental Study on Working Memory Training and Its Effects on Reading and Basic Number Skills
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Does It Pay to Practice?: A Quasi-Experimental Study on Working Memory Training and Its Effects on Reading and Basic Number Skills
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation is based on results from an intervention study targeting working memory training. A group of 46 boys and 11 girls (aged 10.7) that were attending special units in 16 regular schools participated in the study. The treatment group (n = 42) trained at school every day for 30-40 minutes with an interactive computer program (Cogmed training) for five weeks. The performances of the treatment group on reading related measures and basic number skills are compared to those of a group of students (n =15) that were attending similar special units and received only ordinary special educational instruction. Working memory measures and non-verbal problem solving were compared to students (n = 25) in a control group from a previous study.

In Study I, it was found that reading comprehension and working memory measures correlated and improved at post-tests (T2, T3) for the treatment group to a larger extent than for the comparison group.

In Study II, it was found that working memory measures and basic number skills were highly related. The performance of the boys in the treatment group improved more than that of the boys in the comparison group on basic number test at both post-tests.

In Study III, basic skills assessed three years later (T4) are reported. The treatment group achieved higher scores in reading comprehension compared to pre-tests and compared to the control group.

The treatment group seems to have gained from the cognitive training of working memory with the computer assisted program directly after training, after seven months and at the three year follow-up. The gains were observed on visuo-spatial working memory measure (T2, T3), reading comprehension and on basic number skills in boys (T2, T3, T4).

The possible mechanisms that may be involved in and may explain the observed improvements of performances are discussed: executive function, attention, memory, motivation, emotions. The study has some methodological limitations and more research is needed to substantiate the efficacy of the program.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Special Education, Stockholm University, 2013. 119 p.
Keyword
Working memory training, attention deficits, special educational needs, reading, basic mathematics, computer assisted instruction
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Special Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-87611 (URN)978-91-7447-613-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-03-22, Stora hörsalen, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, Frescativägen 40, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 10061,091415
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted.

Available from: 2013-02-28 Created: 2013-02-12 Last updated: 2013-04-24Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jel/article/view/21535/15238

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