David (12 years 11 months)

David’s performance on Lucid Recall is shown in Figure 11.

It is apparent that David has rather poor working memory. An examination of the Lucid Recall scores reveals that his performance was poor (below standard score 85) on two of the working memory subtests, and was particularly poor for the pattern recall and counting recall tasks. These scores indicate that David has a general deficit in working memory. This profile of scores is typical of some children with special educational needs, who perform more poorly than age matched controls on measures of the visuo-spatial sketchpad and central executive components of working memory. Therefore it is likely that David should be recognised as needing extra support for learning, and he is likely to make slow progress with acquiring knowledge and skills in areas such as literacy and mathematics, and is therefore at risk of poor educational attainment.

David’s results lead to several recommendations. Firstly, it is important that David’s teachers recognise that he has a poor working memory, and that his difficulties are not a result of other problems such as inattentiveness or lack of interest in learning. Teachers can then try to reduce the working memory demands of common classroom activities. This involves being mindful that heavy loads are caused by lengthy sentences, unfamiliar content, and demanding mental processing activities. Therefore, where possible teachers should simplify sentences, and use familiar and common words. Teachers should also ensure that David remembers what he is supposed to be doing in any given task, by repeating important information, and also asking David to repeat it. David may also benefit from some training related to using visual aids, so that they can be effectively used to reduce the amount of information that needs to be remembered during on-going processing tasks. David should also be encouraged to develop strategies for dealing with poor working memory, including note taking. It is also important to tell David that it is OK to ask for help when it is needed. At nearly 13 years of age it also important to realise that David has been coping with a poor working memory for some time. Frequent failures on learning tasks as a result of a poor working memory may have therefore been very detrimental to David’s confidence and selfbelief. David may therefore benefit from increased support, praise and encouragement during learning activities. Finally, teachers may also want to suggest some kind of working memory training (see Section 4.3). Although we do not currently know the long-term consequences of working memory training, nevertheless this should at least improve David’s confidence and beliefs in his ability to deal with complex processing and storage tasks.

Like the previous case (Emma), David’s working memory processing speed was close to the lower boundary of the average range, suggesting that he works at a slower rate than most other students. This could impact on his studies as he gets older, especially in examinations and timed assessments. It would be useful for David to understand this himself and to be given advice regarding working more quickly.


Figure 11. Lucid Recall results for David (age 12:11).