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Title: Education-related learning difficulties and working memory functioning
Author: Jeffries, Sharman Alison
ISNI:       0000 0001 3589 8365
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2007
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The current work investigates relationships between poor educational outcomes and memory problems of children with specific learning difficulties (SpLD). In the first study, groups of children with dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficits, replicated findings consistent with simple relationships between phonological loop and dyslexia, visuo-spatial sketch-pad and dyspraxia and central executive and attentional problems. A subsequent study incorporated children with hyperactivity features into an attention deficits group, leading to a reduction in the specific relationship with poor central executive functioning. Children with mixed attention and hyperactivity problems still showed deficits in complex working memory tasks, but primarily with visual-spatial material. In a further study, dyslexic children with additional attentional problems showed central executive and phonological loop weaknesses and adding children with a mixed profile of attentional/behavioural difficulties led to mixed weaknesses in central executive and visuo-spatial areas. Regression analyses indicated attentional difficulty levels predicted variability in performance, whereas behavioural difficulty levels did not. Factor analysing control children's data revealed a factor structure consistent with the tripartite model. Similar analysis of the results of learning difficulties children showed factor loadings variations, indicating either a different memory structure or, more likely, different interactions between task demands and underlying ability. Differences across primary and secondary groups also argued for mnemonic strategy use and/or a larger knowledge base serving working memory processes. A final study incorporated practicing mnemonic strategies and argued for behavioural and underlying cognitive difficulties negatively impacting on strategies use, with improvements in memory performance primarily being observed when areas of ability were harnessed. Such findings were used to describe information processing from encoding through to recall, with discussions of this processing model incorporating working memory features of SpLD children, factors of attentional control and threats to/protections of memory processes. Implications for assessment methods, bespoke remediation design and mnemonic strategies training are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available