Reading Ability and Memory Span: Long-term Memory Contributions to Span for Good and Poor Readers

Authors: McDougall, S. and Donohoe, R.

Journal: Reading and Writing

Volume: 15

Pages: 359-387

ISSN: 0922-4777

DOI: 10.1023/A:1015224830778


A number of studies have shown that children with reading difficulties perform poorly on tests of verbal memory span. The extent to which differences in memory span for good and poor readers can be explained by differences in a long-term memory component to span as well as by differences in short-term memory processes was investigated in this study. Memory span and rehearsal rate were measured for high and low frequency words and nonwords. Although memory span performance for high frequency words was comparable for all reading ability groups, good readers had better memory span performance for low frequency words. This was attributable to differences in both short-term and long-term memory contributions to span performance. Differences between reading ability groups also emerged when memory span for nonwords was measured. In this case, differences between groups also appeared to be the result of difficulties which poor readers encountered in learning new phonologically-based materials (i.e. nonwords). The nature of the inter-relationships between memory span, reading and measures of phonological awareness are discussed in the light of these findings.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Sine McDougall