Working Memory: Definition, Symptoms, Impact on Academics, Solutions, and Freebie

Posted by Erica Warren on

Do you have students that continually forget to bring a pencil to class, misplace their homework, blurt out irrelevant comments, and struggle following multi-step directions?  These difficulties can all be traced to working memory mishaps.
symptoms of working memory problems

What is Working Memory?

Working memory is a cognitive functioning that enables students to remember and use relevant information to complete an activity.  It also enables learners to hold multiple pieces of information in the mind and manipulate them.  It is often described as a mental workspace that helps students stay focused, block distractions and stay abreast of their surroundings.

How Does a Weak Working Memory Impact Students? 

Working memory difficulties will impact the following: 
  • Reading comprehension
  • Mental math
  • Understanding social interactions
  • Completing homework
  • Planning and preparing for activities
  • Solving multi-step directions
  • Writing essays and reports
  • Following a conversation
  • Test preparation
  • Turning in homework
  • Following and participating in group discussions
memory resources

    What are Some Key Symptoms of Working Memory Difficulties?

    • Trouble comprehending a story
    • Difficulties memorizing math facts
    • Problems making and keeping friends
    • Requires many prompts to complete homework
    • Forgets needed materials at home and at school
    • Fails to follow all the directions and work is often incomplete
    • Struggles with organizing ideas before writing and the finished product is often incomplete and messy
    • Makes irrelevant comments and changes the topic of discussion
    • Difficulties maintaining focus
    • Misplaces things like pencils, notebooks, and homework
    • Leaving studying for tests to the last minute

    How Can Students Improve Working Memory?

    Strengthen working memory

    Providing fun and engaging activities that require attention, mental manipulation, and following directions such as Red Light, Green Light, memory games and treasure hunts can help.  However, ready-made activities that develop working memory activities can save preparation time.  Come get some FREE SAMPLE ACTIVITIES.

    I hope you found this post helpful.  If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment.

    Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
    Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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