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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Steve Higgins

Allen, K., Giofrè, D., Higgins, S. & Adams, J. (2019). Working Memory Predictors of Written Mathematics in 7-8 Year Old Children. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

There is extensive evidence for the involvement of working memory in mathematical attainment. This study aims to identify the relative contributions of verbal, spatial-simultaneous, and spatial-sequential working memory measures in written mathematics. Year 3 children (7–8 years of age, n = 214) in the United Kingdom were administered a battery of working memory tasks alongside a standardised test of mathematics. Confirmatory factor analyses and variance partitioning were then performed on the data to identify the unique variance accounted for by verbal, spatial-simultaneous, and spatial-sequential measures. Results revealed the largest individual contribution was that of verbal working memory, followed by spatial-simultaneous factors. This suggests the components of working memory underpinning mathematical performance at this age are those concerning verbal-numeric and spatial-simultaneous working memory. Implications for educators and further research are discussed.