Evaluating the Utility of Working Memory Training Programmes for Children

UoM administered thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology

  • Authors:
  • Lee Randall


The literature suggests working memory can have a significant effect on children's academic success. A number of working memory training programmes have been developed as tools for helping children to boost their working memory and learning ability. The reliability and validity of this body of evidence has been challenged recently with questions raised as to whether such programmes actually do boost working memory or show any subsequent impact upon learning.The thesis contains an evaluative systematic review examining eight studies from the last decade that explore the effects of working memory training on working memory, literacy and numeracy. The review found significant near and far transfer effects for improvements to working memory with differences in the pattern of these improvements. The assertion that working memory training leads to improvements in other areas such as literacy and numeracy is also challenged.The thesis also contains an examination of the efficacy of a paired whole class working memory intervention in delivering improvements in the working memory, literacy and numeracy skills of primary aged school children. The pre-experimental design tested the impact of the intervention on the working memory, literacy and numeracy of a sample of forty-one Year 4 children. The data demonstrated a significant positive immediate effect of the programme on verbal working memory recall and processing and visual-spatial working memory processing and recall. No significant immediate effects of the programme were found on numeracy or literacy. Finally a critical appraisal of concepts of evidence based practice and a review of the literature regarding the dissemination of research and notions of research impact is presented. The implications of the current research for professional practice is explored in terms of the care that must be taken by educational professionals in offering up working memory training programmes as solutions to academic underachievement in children.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Kathleen Tyldesley (Supervisor)
  • Emma Harding (Supervisor)
Award date31 Dec 2016