Annals of Educational Research and Reviews

How does working memory work in the classroom?


Tracy Packiam Alloway

It is proposed here that working memory is crucially required to store information while other material
is being mentally manipulated during the classroom learning activities that form the foundations for the
acquisition of complex skills and knowledge. A child with a poor working memory capacity will struggle
and often fail in such activities, disrupting and delaying learning. The aim of this review is to present
the case that working memory makes a vital contribution to classroom learning. Following a brief
introduction to working memory and its assessment, links between working memory skills and
scholastic progress is reviewed and illustrated. Next, the classroom behaviour of children with very
poor working memory functions, and in particular their characteristic failures in learning activities, is
described. Finally, the implications of this research for classroom practice is considered; this includes
an intervention programme designed to improve learning outcomes for children with poor working
memory function that is based on the theoretical analysis of working memory and learning advanced


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