Children’s cognitive health underpins every aspect of learning and education. Children need to be able to pay attention, to inhibit irrelevant information, to hold relevant information in mind whilst completing a task (working memory), and to retrieve stored information from long-term memory. Understanding how cognitive abilities develop throughout childhood, and how these different skills link to learning, is key within the educational context. Lower cognitive abilities are associated with a range of poor education outcomes in both the short- and long-term. This makes it particularly important to be able to identify and support children who show deficits in cognitive skills. This theme therefore supports various projects that seek to improve our understanding of cognitive development, and how best we can help children with cognitive deficits to achieve their full learning potential.

Specific Projects

Working memory in the classroom

This project is exploring what teachers and educational professionals understand about working memory in children, including working memory deficits, and how it relates to learning and education. Alongside this, we will be comparing the effectiveness of different ways to support children in the classroom who have poor working memory. This will all feed into the creation of up-to-date guidance for schools and teachers.

To find out more about this project, contact Dr Amanda Waterman.

Research outputs

Atkinson A L, Waterman, A H, & Allen, R J (2019). Can children prioritize more valuable information in working memory? An exploration into the effects of motivation and memory load. Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.1037/dev0000692.

Berry, E. D., Allen, R. J., Mon‐Williams, M., & Waterman, A. H. (2019). Cognitive Offloading: Structuring the Environment to Improve Children’s Working Memory Task Performance. Cognitive Science43(8), e12770.

Berry, E. D., Waterman, A. H., Baddeley, A. D., Hitch, G. J., & Allen, R. J. (2018). The limits of visual working memory in children: Exploring prioritization and recency effects with sequential presentation. Developmental Psychology54(2), 240.

Waterman, A. H., Atkinson, A. L., Aslam, S. S., Holmes, J., Jaroslawska, A., & Allen, R. (2017). Do actions speak louder than words? Examining children’s ability to follow instructions. Memory & Cognition, 45(6), 877-890. doi: 10.3758/s13421-017-0702-7.

Sheridan, R., van Rooijen, M., Giles, O., Mushtaq, F., Steenbergen, B, Mon-Williams, M., & Waterman, A. H. (2017). Counting on the mental number line to make a move: sensorimotor (‘pen’) control and numerical processing. Experimental Brain Research, 235(10), 3141-3152. doi: 10.1007/s00221-017-5019-z.

Meet the team

Dr Amanda Waterman

Action Project Leader and Associate Professor

Dr Richard Allen

Associate Professor

Amy Atkinson

Research Fellow and PhD Student

Asiyah Alzahrani

Asiyah Alzahrani

PhD Student