Working Memory Training and the Effect on Mathematical Achievement in Children with Attention Deficits and Special Needs

Karin I. E. Dahlin


Working Memory (WM) has a central role in learning. It is suggested to be malleable and is considered
necessary for several aspects of mathematical functioning. This study investigated whether work with an
interactive computerised working memory training programme at school could affect the mathematical
performance of young children. Fifty-seven children with attention deficits participated in an intervention
programme. The treatment group trained daily, for 30-40 min. at school for five weeks, while the control group
did not get any extra training. Looking at the group as a whole, mathematical performance improved in the
treatment group compared with the control group directly following the five weeks of training (Time 2), but the
results of the second post-test (Time 3, approximately seven months later) were no longer significant. Since there
was only a small number of girls, the results were analysed for boys only. The boys had improved their
mathematical results in both post-tests. WM-measures improved at Time 2 and 3 relative to Time 1 (pre-test) for
the whole group, and for boys. Differences in training scores were related to differences in the non-verbal
WM-measure Span board back.
The results indicate that boys aged 9 to 12 with special needs may benefit, over time, from WM training, as
shown in the enhanced results in mathematics following WM training. However, as the intervention and control
groups were not randomised, the results cannot be generalised; the results must be considered with caution.

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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)

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