The relationship between working memory and early writing at the word, sentence and text level

Bourke, Lorna and Adams, Anne-Marie (2003) The relationship between working memory and early writing at the word, sentence and text level. Educational and Child Psychology, 20 (3). pp. 19-36. ISSN 0267-1611

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Working memory skills have been shown to be closely related to children’s spoken language skills. Specifically phonological memory is associated with the diversity of vocabulary and mean length of sentences measured in morphemes, while spoken language comprehension is related to central executive function. The present study aimed to investigate whether these components of working memory were associated with young children’s written language performance at comparable word, sentence and text levels, and also when the text was assessed using the National Curriculum guidelines. Sixty children aged between 6 and 7 years attending local education authority schools took part in the study. Tasks which measured the visuospatial, phonological and central executive components of Baddeley & Hitch’s (1974) working memory model were adopted. Children’s written texts were analysed in terms of diversity of vocabulary, mean length of the sentences in morphemes, and overall coherence. Children were also assigned an attainment level according to Key Stage 1 (KS1) guidelines. Hierarchical regressions revealed that individual differences in central executive functioning predicted vocabulary diversity, text coherence and KS1 attainment level. Individual differences in working memory capacity were associated with poorer quality texts. These findings support the characterisation of the writing task both in the educational literature and in investigations of the cognitive skills underpinning writing as a resource demanding task which requires the writer to successfully manage a number of processes in order to achieve a well-written text.

Item Type: Article
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Lorna Bourke
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2019 14:36
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2019 14:36

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