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Journal of Memory and Language 49 (2003) 446–468

Journal of Memory and Language

Strategy training and working memory task performanceq
Kandi Jo Turley-Ames* and Michelle M. Whitfield
Department of Psychology, Idaho State University, Box 8112, Pocatello, ID 83209-8112, USA Received 2 August 2001; revision received 17 July 2003

Abstract Three experiments examined how strategy use influences working memory (WM) span performance and the correlation between WM span scores and higher cognitive function, using the operation span measure and the Nelson– Denny assessment of reading ability. Participants completed two versions of the operation span measure in a pre-/posttest design. In each study, half of the participants received strategy instructions prior to post-test. In Study 1, WM span scores increased as result of using a rehearsal strategy. In Study 2, three different strategies (rehearsal, imagery, and semantic) were compared. Low spans, in particular, benefited from using a rehearsal strategy. Also, the relationship between WM span scores and Nelson–Denny reading ability composite scores was enhanced, suggesting that strategy use, unless controlled for, can mask the ‘‘true’’ relationship between WM span and reading ability scores. In Study 3, time spent using the strategies described in Study 2 was controlled. Although no particular span group benefited from using any one strategy, WM span scores obtained while participants used the rehearsal strategy was, again, more predictive of reading ability. The importance of controlling for variation in strategy use during assessments of WM span is discussed. Ó 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Working memory; Working memory span; Strategy; Reading ability; Operation span

Introduction Various measures of working memory (WM) capacity reliably predict higher-order cognition, including

q A grant from Washington State University supported the first study presented in the...


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