Techniques to Improve Working Memory in Students With Disabilities

Based on the research from John Hopkins: This Brain Exercise Improves Working Memory

Summary by Jackie Edwards

There is a clear correlation between poor working memory and learning difficulties, with 15% of students limited by their low working memory. This is the ability to hold information temporarily while performing another cognitive task. If working memory isn’t functioning properly, then it can be hard to stay focused on the activity at hand. For young children, there are a range of courses aimed at improving academic performance as well as developing important social skills, but here’s how to specifically target the working memory and help students to achieve highly.

Converting Auditory Information to Visual

It is far easier to remember information when it is processed by the visual part of the brain, rather than the auditory region. It is even better to utilize both. If you are teaching a child some new subject matter, then aim to diversify how you convey the content.

One way you can do this is by using a PowerPoint presentation. Rather than simply passing on information verbally, you can have it written down, with images where possible. If you make the colors bold and bright, you have a better chance of cementing it in the minds of your students.

Divide Information Into Manageable Chunks

The more ways you can divide up tasks, the better. When setting an assignment, it is important to speak slowly and with a clear structure that is easy to follow. This can be achieved by writing a script before hand and being clear about what you wish to say to get the task across in a way that is easily remembered.

Assignments should also always be written down in small sections. This ensures that a child can revisit the content later on. It also makes a task less daunting than a large body of text.

Use Repetition and Routine

A common exercise for improving memory is to repeat important points to help a student commit it to memory. This is especially true when conveying information orally. When it comes to instant recall, repetition made memorization easier in the case of auditory short term memory.

Routine is another form of repetition. By setting assignments at the same time each week, a student will naturally know when to pay extra attention. Similarly, by having them hand in work at the same time and day, this will become an automatic habit and therefore less likely to be forgotten.

Working memory is an important component in helping a student with learning disabilities. You can help learners to hold information by using images as well as text and speech. You should also split information into manageable chunks, repeat important points and encourage a routine.


John Hopkins: This Brain Exercise Improves Working Memory