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Publication Detail
Mapping components of verbal and visuospatial working memory to mathematical topics in seven- to fifteen-year-olds
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Gordon R, Santana De Morais D, Whitelock E, Mukarram A
  • Publisher:
    British Psychological Society
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    British Journal of Educational Psychology
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
Background: Developmental research provides considerable evidence of a strong relationship between verbal and visuospatial working memory (WM) and mathematics ability across age groups. However, little is known about how components of WM (i.e., short-term storage, processing speed, the central executive) might relate to mathematics sub-categories and how these change as children develop. // Aims: This study aimed to identify developmental changes in relationships between components of verbal and visuospatial WM and specific mathematics abilities. // Sample: Children (n = 117) were recruited from four UK schools across three age groups (7–8 years; 9–10 years; and 14–15 years). Methods: Children’s verbal and visuospatial short-term storage, processing speed, and central executive abilities were assessed. Age-based changes in the contributions from these abilities to performance on mathematics sub-categories were examined. // Results: When WM was examined both as an amalgamation of its component parts, and individually, relationships with mathematics were more evident in younger children compared to the middle and older age groups. However, when unique variance was examined for each WM predictor (controlling for the other components), many of those relationships disappeared. Relationships with processing speed and the central executive were found to be more evident in the older age groups. // Conclusions: The WM-mathematics relationship changes dependent on age and mathematical sub-component. Overlap in individual WM abilities in younger children, compared to reliance on the central executive and processing speed in older children, suggests a set of fluid resources important in mathematics learning in younger children but separating out as children grow older.
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