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Runninghead:WORKINGMEMORYANDCHUNKING

WorkingMemoryandChunking
ColbyR.Ensing
MichiganStateUniversity

WORKINGMEMORYANDCHUNKING
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Asateen,IremembertryingtohelpmybrotherstudyforhisSpanishquizzes.Mymom
suggestedthatweorganizethevocabwordsbysubject.Surprisingly,mybrotherwasmorelikely
torememberthewordsiftheywereorganizedbytopic.Studentswithworkingmemoryissues
likemybrotheraremorelikelytorememberwordsandconceptsthatareorganizedandchunked.
MybrotherandotherlearnersintheUnitedStatesareaffectedbyastruggletoeffectively
usetheirworkingmemorybecauseofADHD.ThearticleTrainingofWorkingMemoryin
ChildrenwithADHDdefinesworkingmemory(WM)astheabilitytoretainandmanipulate
informationduringashortperiodoftime(Klingberg,Forssberg,Westerberg,2002,pg.781).In
otherwords,WMallowspeopletomemorizeandanalyzewordsorfactsbeforetheyare
transferredtolongtermmemory.Thus,somestudentsstruggletorememberandthinkabout
informationwithinWM.
Inordertobesuccessfulstudents,aneffectiveWMisimperative.IntheirarticleWill
WorkingMemoryTrainingGeneralizetoImproveOffTaskBehaviorinChildrenwithAttention
Deficit/HyperactivityDisorder?Green,Long,Green,Iosif,Dixon,Miller,Fassbender,and
Schweitzer(2012)state,WMisacorecognitivefunctionessentialforacademicperformance
andachievement(pg.640).Yet,withoutafullyfunctioningWM,studentslikemybrother
struggletopayattentionandrememberwhatneedstobe.WillWorkingMemoryTraining
GeneralizetoImproveOffTaskBehaviorinChildrenwithAttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder?says,ChildrenwithimpairedWMoftenexperienceoverloadduringlearning
activities,hinderingtheirabilitytosustainattentionandstayontask(Greenetal.,2012,pg.
640).ThisshowsthatWMislimited,andstudentswithADHDbecomeoverwhelmed,causing
themtobeunabletorecallwhatisintheirworkingmemoryandconnectittotheirlongterm
memory.AsCarretti,Borella,andDeBeni(2007)claimintheirarticleDoesStrategicMemory

WORKINGMEMORYANDCHUNKING

TrainingImprovetheMemoryPerformanceofYoungerandOlderAdults,Skilledmemorizers
arethosepeoplewhoareabletostrategicallyencodeinformationlinking...newinformationwith
previouslylearnedinformation(pg.311).ItisimpossibleforstudentswithineffectiveWMto
becomeskilledmemorizers.Thisisduetoneverassimilatingnewinformationlearnedatschool
tooldinformation,astheyareunabletothinkaboutthenewinformationlongenoughtomake
theseconnections.
WMcouldbeimprovedforlearnerswithadeficitiftheyrelyonaskillthataccesseslong
termmemorywithoutoverwhelmingshorttermmemory.ThefindingsinthearticleDoes
StrategicMemoryTrainingImprovetheMemoryPerformanceofYoungerandOlderAdults
werethatlearninganewmemorystrategythatallowedparticipantstorelyuponlongterm
retrievalstructures,facilitatedtheloweringofattentionaldemandsoftheworkingmemorytask
(Carrettietal.,2007,pg.318).ThisiswhereorganizingmybrothersSpanishvocabularybased
ontopiccameinhandyforhim.
ChunkinglearningcouldbethekeyforstudentswithWMproblems.AccordingtoBodie,

Powers,andFitzHauser(2006)intheirwritingChunking,PrimingandActiveLearning:
TowardanInnovativeandBlendedApproachtoTeachingCommunicationRelatedSkills,
Chunkingreferstotheprocessoforganizingandgroupingsmallunitsofinformationintolarger
clusters(pg.122).Thisorganizingisbeneficialforstudentsbecauseitgivestheindividuala
meansofaccessingtheinformationthatisultimatelystoredinhisorhermemory,andincreases
theamountofinformationwecandealwith(Bodieetal.,2006,pg.122).So,studentswithWM
issuesarelesslikelytobeoverwhelmedandmorelikelytorecallinformationwithchunking.
OnetechnologytoolthatwillallowstudentswhoneedassistancewithWMtochunkand
organizeinformationisthewebsite
ExamTime
.Thiswebsiteletsstudents(orteachers)create

WORKINGMEMORYANDCHUNKING

mindmaps.Thistoolgivesstudentstheabilitytoorganizeinformationinwaysthatcouldgroup
smallerbitsofinformationintoacategory.Forexample,studentsinmyWorldHistoryclass
couldmakeamapregardingAbsolutism.Withinthemap,Absolutismcouldbebrokenintothe
Europeancountriesbeingstudiedthen,theEuropeancountriescouldbebrokenintotheabsolute
monarchsofthatnationandinformationaboutthem.Bydoingthis,mystudentswithWM
deficitswouldbenotbeoverloadedbythedetailsofAbsolutism,andtheywouldbemorelikely
torememberthosedetailsoncetheywereabletoassimilatethemtotheoverarchingconceptof
Absolutism.Thus,ExamTimecanassiststudentswithrememberinginformationthrough
chunking.

WORKINGMEMORYANDCHUNKING

References
Bodie,G.,Powers,W.,andFitzHauser,M.(2006).Chunking,PrimingandActiveLearning:
Towardaninnovativeandblendedapproachtoteachingcommunicationrelatedskills.
InteractiveLearningEnvironments,14.2,119135
.
Carretti,B.,Borell,E.,DeBeni,R.(2007).Doesstrategicmemorytrainingimprovethememory
performanceofyoungerandolderadults?
ExperimentalPsychology,54.4,311320
.
Green,C.,Long,D.,Green,D.,Iosif,A.,Dixon,J.,Miller,M.,Fassbender,C.,Schweitzer,J.
(2012).Willworkingmemorytraininggeneralizetoimproveofftaskbehaviorin
childrenwithattentiondeficit/hyperactivitydisorder?
Neurotherapeutics,9,639648
.
Klingberg,T.,Forssberg,H.,Westerberg,H.(2002).Trainingofworkingmemoryinchildren
withADHD.
JournalofClinicalandExperimentalNeuropsychology,24.6,781791
.