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Exploring the Relationships Between Children's Working Memory and Long-Term Memory



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Working memory and long-term memory are two types of memory associated with children’s learning and academic performance. A number of memory models have suggested there is a relationship between working memory and long-term memory; however, there is a lack of empirical research measuring this relationship using standardized assessment tools. Further, there are currently no studies measuring this relationship in children. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between children’s working memory (i.e., verbal working memory, visual-spatial working memory, verbal short-term memory, visual-spatial short-term memory, and the central executive) and long-term memory, using standardized assessment tools. The Automated Working Memory Assessment was used to measure working memory and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities – Third Edition was used to measure long-term memory. This study utilized secondary data from a larger SSHRC funded study. Participants included 41 children between grades 1 and 8. The majority of parents who volunteered to have their children participate identified them as having a disability (e.g., speech/language difficulty; learning disability). Kendall’s tau-b revealed statistically significant correlations between four areas of working memory (i.e., verbal working memory, visual-spatial working memory, visual-spatial short-term memory, and central executive) and long-term memory. Mann-Whitney tests revealed children with higher working memory abilities differed significantly from children with lower working memory abilities on measures of long-term memory. The findings from this study may have implications for both theory and practice. The relationship observed between working memory and long-term memory appears to align with widely accepted memory models (e.g., Baddeley, 2000; Dehn, 2008). The findings also suggest interventions designed to improve children’s working memory may have the potential to enhance long-term memory abilities.



children, working memory, long-term memory, short-term memory



Master of Education (M.Ed.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


School and Counselling Psychology


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