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Posted 11th February, 2011 by Jocelyn Gronow

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Book Review

For learners, parents and educational professionals

Improving Working Memory

Tracy Packiam Alloway

ISBN 978-1-84920-748-5

111 pages

Working Memory- Our brain’s Post-it note: this, the title for Chapter 1, so clearly encapsulates the meaning of working memory. From this, ‘light bulb’ moment, the structure of the book continues to illuminate the reader’s way through the chapters. Each chapter has subtitles throughout, a summary of numbered points and a list of further reading at the end.  Writing is visually punctuated with ‘Try It’ boxes, an opportunity to have hands-on understanding of the material; ‘Science Flash’ boxes, giving a snapshot of related current research; ‘Current debate’ boxes, which discuss relevant controversial issues; diagrams and data presented in visual form. Additionally, stories shared by teachers and parents with the author have been added to describe the challenges that learners face and inspire readers.

It is hard to put down this fascinating book which begins by exploring what working memory is, why it is important and how it relates to academic success. We are reminded of the many studies that demonstrate that working memory is a more reliable predictor of academic achievement than IQ, as a working memory test measures our potential to learn.

Chapter 2- Diagnosing working memory: looks at ways to test working memory; detailing the benefits and drawbacks of available tests and signposting the way forward.

The following chapters then describe a range of learning differences that impact on the way that people learn; the relationship between each one and working memory. In short, how poor working memory affects people with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, ADHD and those on the Autistic Spectrum. It is disappointing that this range of differences is described as disorders but that should not deter the reader from becoming engaged with the findings.

The final chapter outlines a range of strategies to encourage students of all ages to become more independent in their learning. It also discusses whether it is possible to train the brain, improve working memory and improve learning outcomes.

The book is the culmination of many years of research undertaken by Tracy Packham Alloway, in conjunction with others, regarding working memory and related issues.  Professionals will find much that they recognise as well as new information; it is always reassuring to see ones hunches proved and ideas progressed.

A copy can be purchased on the internet for a little over £15.00, which makes this book easy to obtain by parents, learners and educational professionals.

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