Working Memory, but Not IQ, Predicts Subsequent Learning in Children with Learning Difficulties


Tracy Packiam Alloway


The purpose of the present study was to compare the predictive power of working memory and IQ in children identified as having learning difficulties. The term “working memory” refers to the capacity to store and manipulate information in mind for brief periods of time. Working-memory capacity is strongly related to learning abilities and academic progress, predicting current and subse- quent scholastic attainment of children across the school years in both literacy and numeracy. Children aged between 7 and 11 years were tested at Time 1 on measures of working memory, IQ, and learning. They were then retested 2 years later on the learning measures. The findings indicated that working-memory capacity and domain-specific knowledge at Time 1, but not IQ, were significant predictors of learning at Time 2. The implications for screening and intervention are discussed.