September 9th, 2020

Avoiding Working Memory Overload in Students with LDs

Working memory is the ability to hold and manipulate information in mind over short periods of time. Complex thinking and learning draw on working memory. Working memory supports school learning across the curriculum, from following instructions, to learning to read, to solving mathematical and scientific problems. Given that much of classroom instruction depends on working memory skills, the academic environment may be particularly challenging for students with learning disabilities (LDs) who often have working memory deficits (Gathercole & Alloway, 2008; Dehn, 2008). Reduced working memory abilities might make it difficult for these students to process as much information or to process information as rapidly or automatically as their peers. Overall, students with working memory deficits will have to work much harder than their typically developing peers to learn and carry out classroom activities. Because we know that students with poor working memory will face substantial learning difficulties when task demands exceed available working memory resources, providing learning support in the classroom is important for overcoming poor working memory skills.

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