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Version 1.2 – Updated June 2023

Working memory strength


  • Influence: Working memory strength
  • Domain: Student
  • Sub-Domain: Prior knowledge and background
  • Potential to Accelerate Student Achievement: Potential to considerably accelerate
  • Influence Definition: Working memory relates to how much information a student can hold and manipulate temporarily. Students with low levels of working memory tend to perform worse academically.


  • Number of meta-analyses: 4
  • Number of studies: 437
  • Number of students: 48,163
  • Number of effects: 4,107
  • Weighted mean effect size: 0.64
  • Robustness index: 4


Journal Title Author First Author's Country Article Name Year Published Variable Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Effect Size
Journal of Educational Psychology Peng, Namkung, Barnes, & Sun USA A meta-analysis of mathematics and working memory: Moderating effects of working memory domain, type of mathematics skill, and sample characteristics. 2016 Working memory on math achievement 110 0 829 0.61
Psychological Bulletin Peng, Barnes, Wang, Li, Swanson, Dardick, & Tao USA A meta-analysis on the relation between reading and working memory 2018 Working memory on reading 197 29,629 2,026 0.61
Educational Research Review Friso-van den Bos, van der Ven, Kroesbergen, & van Luit Netherlands Working memory and mathematics in primary school children: A meta-analysis 2013 Working memory on achievement 111 16,921 1,233 0.70
Learning and Individual Differences Carretti, Borella, Cornoldi & de Beni Italy Role of working memory in explaining the performance of individuals with specific reading comprehension difficulties: A meta-analysis 2009 Working memory on reading achievement 19 1,613 19 0.71
TOTAL/AVERAGE 437 48,163 4,107 0.66
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