Working Memory Overview

There are three types of memory. Working memory is the process that occurs when information is stored temporarily in the short term memory bank, connected to previously learned information, and translated into long-term memory. Put more simply, working memory refers to the ability to hold information in the mind and manipulate it while readying it to be stored as long-term memory. It is often referred to as the brain’s sticky note or mental workspace.

How is Working Memory Used and Why is it Important? 

Working memory is used both in the classroom and in everyday life. Here are a few examples of how (for more examples, click the above link about memory):

  • remembering phone numbers, pin numbers, social security numbers, emails, and passwords
  • following spoken (oral) directions

Currently, working memory is considered the biggest indicator for academic success. “More than 80% of kids with poor working memory fail to achieve expected levels of attainment in either reading or math or both (Gathercole & Alloway, 2008).”

Working Memory and Language-Based Learning Disabilities

Research has shown a high co-morbidity with learning disabilities (such as difficulties in math, spelling, and reading), specific language impairments, and ADHD (Bender, 2002; Swanson, 1994). 15-20% of kids with a learning disability and 1/3 of young adults with a learning disability are said to have working memory deficits.

How Does This Connect To Landmark’s Teaching Principles™?

Understanding working memory and how deficits can impact students in the classroom, teachers can showcase Landmark’s first teaching principle: Provide Opportunities for Success. For the full text of the Landmark Teaching Principles™, including “Provide Opportunities for Success,” click here.

Strategies to Download

Working Memory Checklist


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