03 March 2008

The New IQ

via Reuters:

Defects in working memory -- the brain's temporary storage bin -- may explain why one child cannot read her history book and another gets lost in algebra, new research suggests.

As many as 10 percent of school age children may suffer from poor working memory, British researchers said in a report last week, yet the problem remains rarely identified.

"You can think of working memory as a pure measure of your child's potential," Dr. Tracey Alloway of Britain's Durham University said in a telephone interview.

"Some psychologists consider working memory to be the new IQ because we find that working memory is the single most important predictor of learning," Alloway said.

Read more here.

I've talked with my own students about the idea of working memory---along with the importance of being able to store information long-term and the ability to retrieve it when needed. How to learn is an important skill. It's part of the reason many teachers have come to use more thinking tools/graphic organizers as part of their lesson plans. I think there will continue to be people looking at applications of cognitive science for the classroom---not just Alloway's lessons on training one's working memory. There appears to be some grand potential here for student achievement.

1 comment:

hschinske said...

Working memory is certainly important, but I think it's incredibly misleading to say it's "a pure measure of your child's potential," "the new IQ," or "the most important predictor of learning." Yes, if you see *really low* working memory scores it's a big fat red flag for possible problems, but plenty of people with absolutely average working memory function very highly due to strengths in other areas. I also doubt the tests currently available are all that good at ranking those who score average and higher, though they aren't too bad at finding those who have deficits.

Given that working memory is a pretty malleable skill, new insights in the area have *lots* of importance for classroom instruction ... but not in the area of identifying high potential.

Indeed, the publishers of the WISC-IV have issued a bulletin saying that some gifted children's full-scale IQ scores are inappropriately lowered by working memory and processing speed scores, and that a different version of the IQ score (the GAI, or General Ability Index) should be calculated in their cases.