Associations between working memory and simple addition in kindergarteners and first graders

Abstract

This study investigated the associations between working memory and simple addition in young children. Thirty-one kindergarteners and 24 first graders participated in this study. Children’s working memory was measured using the Automated Working Memory Assessment, while addition were assessed using the Addition Test derived by the investigators based on the syllabus for early arithmetic and teacher interviews. Children’s attention was also measured in order to control for its effect on the associations. Results show that visuospatial working memory was significantly associated with the performance on double-digit addition with carrying in a small group of kindergarteners. However, this association became non-significant after controlling for attention. In Grade 1 children, significant association between visuospatial working memory and double-digit addition without carrying was found. This finding is consistent with previous studies that visuospatial working memory is the best and unique predictor for non-verbal materials. The results of this study suggest that a better understanding of the role of working memory in the development of arithmetic skills is required for early childhood education.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank all children and their parents who had participated in this study.

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Correspondence to Clara S. C. Lee.

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Lee, C.S.C., Cheung, Ky., Lau, Hw. et al. Associations between working memory and simple addition in kindergarteners and first graders. Curr Psychol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-01362-x

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Keywords

  • Working memory
  • Single-digit addition
  • Double-digit addition
  • Kindergarteners
  • Grade 1 children