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Working memory resources and children's reading comprehension

Abstract

Working memory capacity is described as a pool of limited resources that carry out processing and storage functions. Its role has been emphasised in adults' reading comprehension. The present study had two aims: First, to study the relationship between working memory capacity and reading comprehension in fourth-grade children. Second, to study the nature of the working memory resources involved in reading comprehension, i.e., are they specific or general?To test the first point, the predictive power of working memory capacity was compared with two reading-related basic skills, vocabulary and decoding skills. To test the second point, different working memory tasks were devised using verbal, numerical and spatial materials. All the tasks were administered to 48 fourth-grade children. The results showed that working memory capacity was a direct predictor of reading comprehension when contrasted with vocabulary and decoding skills. Moreover, it seemed that working memory would be better described as a system specialised for the processing of symbolic information in that only the verbal and in a lesser extent the numerical working memory tasks were significant predictors of reading comprehension. The spatial task did not correlate with reading comprehension. The reasons accounting for the predictive power of working memory tasks were discussed.

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Seigneuric, A., Ehrlich, MF., Oakhill, J.V. et al. Working memory resources and children's reading comprehension. Reading and Writing 13, 81–103 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1008088230941

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  • Children
  • Reading comprehension
  • Working memory