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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Jens Beckmann

Tymms, P., Beckmann, N., Beckmann, J.F., Elliott, J. & Merell, C. (2013), Does schooling have an impact on short-term memory?, 15th Biennial Conference of the European Association for Learning and Instruction. Munich, Germany, European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Munich.

Author(s) from Durham


Short-term memory (STM) capacity in the context of academic attainment is of great importance and
studied extensively although experimental interventions to increase STM or working memory have
yet to produce long-term gains. But is it possible that schooling can have a positive effect on such
processes? The analysis of a large longitudinal dataset indicated clear gains in STM capacity during
the first year of schooling, which was predictive, at the pupil level, of attainment in national tests six
years later. Schools varied somewhat in their apparent impact on STM capacity but this did not
translate into differential gains in the national tests at the school level. Possible explanations for the
findings are discussed and it is argued that a sufficiently strong prima facie case has been made for
the impact of schooling on STM to warrant further investigation.