Dr Amanda Waterman

School of Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Health

Identifying and supporting children with poor working memory in the classroom

Responsive Mode

Working memory is where we store and process in-coming information over the short-term, and therefore underpins effective learning. About 5-10% of children have poor working memory ability, and research has consistently shown poor working memory is associated with lower academic attainment. However, working memory is not well understood within the education sector. We recently ran a national online questionnaire for teachers investigating understanding of working memory, and found many of the 1425 respondents misunderstood key aspects, and were unsure how to support pupils with poor working memory.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of information for teachers on this topic. There is a clear need, therefore, to create a suite of free-to-use materials to help teachers identify and support children with poor working memory in the school setting. In partnership with the Head of the Bradford Research School, I am currently leading on the development of a teacher-rating scale to help screen for children at-risk of poor working memory, a web-app that will deliver working memory tests to administer to children, and a guidance booklet for educational professionals. This current funding will enable us to engage teachers in this process, and to disseminate our findings to policy-makers and school leaders.

Dr Amanda Waterman can be contacted by email: A.H.Waterman@leeds.ac.uk