Assessing Memory in Children

Assessing Memory in Children

by admin
April 28, 2021

Weak working memory might be the reason behind you forgetting what you wanted to say in a conversation. It also might be the reason behind you having to reread a paragraph multiple times before moving on to a different passage. Approximately ten percent of us have weak working memory. However, it is estimated that 20 to 50 percent of students with learning difficulties struggle with working memory. Certain deficits in working memory have been documented for dyscalculia and dyslexia. Moreover, children with attention hyper deficit disorder (ADHD) have problems with working memory, specifically executive functioning. This article will briefly outline what working memory is, and it will outline some of the most prominent working memory assessments among children. 

What is Working Memory? 

In simple terms, working memory can be associated with RAM in a computer. The more you have, the faster it is to process data or information. Working memory is vital to learning; it refers to the ability to hold and manipulate information over short periods of time mentally. It is essential to distinguish between working memory and rote memory. Rote Memory involves passively memorizing information while working memory is what we need to take information a step further beyond memorization. Working memory has a foundational role in cognitive development. These include controlled attention, reasoning, organization, and speech and language functioning. Working memory is important to tasks that rely heavily on cognitive control, such as language acquisition, language and comprehension, reading ability, mathematics, and reasoning. 

How Can Children be Assessed for Poor Working Memory?

There are everyday signs that parents can notice and look for to identify whether a child has problems with working memory. Click here for a list of these symptoms. However, it is always advisable to have a child see a professional and get a formal assessment and diagnosis. Memory tests evaluate specific aspects of memory such as visual and auditory memory        (memory for things we have seen and heard), delayed memory (memory across time), distractibility (the ability to focus on things to be remembered), and retrieval from memories. The following section is going to outline some of the most prominent assessments of working memory. 

The Comprehensive Assessment Battery for Children

The comprehensive assessment battery for children (CABC) test is a computer-based test. It is designed to test different components of working memory among young children. Comprehensive assessment battery for children is administered on computers with a touch screen interface. Moreover, it was explicitly designed to be engaging and motivating for children. CABC includes 13 working memory tasks that measure the “focus of attention, visuospatial, phonological, and binding subsystems of working memory.” The purpose of the comprehensive assessment battery for children test is to provide working memory individualized profiles for children to receive appropriate intervention. 

Automated Working Memory Assessment

Automated working memory assessment is a fully automated online assessment of working memory. This assessment method is designed for individuals from the age of 4 to 22. This assessment provides a detailed profile of working memory, which helps target early intervention strategies. The automated working memory assessment measures verbal and visuospatial aspects of short term memory and working memory. Automated working memory assessment is very convenient for teachers and educators since it requires very little training to administer. This assessment is the first standardized tool for nonspecialists to assess their students.

Moreover, the scoring and test results are automatically calculated by the computer program. It is estimated that up until 2008, over 4000 schools in the United Kingdom used the automated working memory assessment for students. To date, this assessment has been translated into about twenty languages. 

California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT-C)

This test is designed for individuals between the age of 5 to 16. It is an assessment of how individuals learn and recall verbal material. This test can help in diagnosing and treating memory impairments. CVLT-C assesses the level of recall and recognition( meaning remembering whether you have heard a particular word before), rate of learning verbal material, the strategies used to remember the material, whether someone remembers words that come word first or last on a list; consistency, and short term and long term retention.   

Does Poor Working Memory Mean a Child Is Not Smart?

If a child has poor working memory, it does not mean that they are not smart. Working memory helps us learn and helps us stay on task and not be easily distracted. Working memory can help individuals perform better on IQ tests; however, we should not equate working memory with intelligence. 


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