The contribution of working memory to children's mathematical word problem solving

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Abstract

The study explored the contribution of working memory to mathematical word problem solving in children. A total of 69 children in grades 2, 3 and 4 were given measures of mathematical problem solving, reading, arithmetical calculation, fluid IQ and working memory. Multiple regression analyses showed that three measures associated with the central executive and one measure associated with the phonological loop contributed unique variance to mathematical problem solving when the influence of reading, age and IQ were controlled for in the analysis. In addition, the animal dual-task, verbal fluency and digit span task continued to contribute unique variance when the effects of arithmetical calculation in addition to reading, fluid IQ, and age were controlled for. These findings demonstrate that the phonological loop and a number of central executive functions (shifting, co-ordination of concurrent processing and storage of information, accessing information from long-term memory) contribute to mathematical problem solving in children. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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