Date of Award

12-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Kibby, Michelle

Abstract

The current study explored the relationship between working memory (WM) and reading performance in 50 typically-developing third-grade students, as well as the effect of WM-training on their WM, reading fluency, and reading comprehension skills. Half of the sample was randomly assigned to the experimental group, while the other half was placed in the control group. Children in both groups participated in a battery of WM and reading assessments preceding and following three weeks of computer game play. The children in the experimental group played a WM-training computer game for about 10 minutes a day (Monday-Friday) for three weeks, while children in the control group played a computer game that required sustained attention, but did not have a WM component. It was hypothesized that WM performance would predict reading performance, such that better WM ability would be associated with better reading ability. Furthermore, it was predicted that WM span would mediate the relationship between reading fluency and reading comprehension. In terms of WM training, it was hypothesized that WM training would significantly improve the experimental group's performance on the measures of WM, reading fluency, and reading comprehension relative to the control group. Results indicated that WM ability significantly predicted performance on measures of reading fluency and reading comprehension at pre-test; however, WM performance was not observed to mediate the relationship between reading fluency and reading comprehension despite being closely associated with both skills. Finally, although children in the experimental group did not show improvements in WM performance relative to those in the control group on transfer tasks, they did demonstrate improvements in reading fluency and reading comprehension. The findings of this study not only suggest that WM ability is closely related to reading skills, but also that WM training may serve as another route to further improve and develop students' literacy abilities.

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