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Can improving working memory prevent academic difficulties? a school based randomised controlled trial

Roberts, Gehan, Quach, Jon, Gold, Lisa, Anderson, Peter, Rickards, Field, Mensah, Fiona, Ainley, John, Gathercole, Susan and Wake, Melissa 2011, Can improving working memory prevent academic difficulties? a school based randomised controlled trial, BMC pediatrics, vol. 11, no. 57, pp. 1-9.

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Title Can improving working memory prevent academic difficulties? a school based randomised controlled trial
Author(s) Roberts, Gehan
Quach, Jon
Gold, Lisa
Anderson, Peter
Rickards, Field
Mensah, Fiona
Ainley, John
Gathercole, Susan
Wake, Melissa
Journal name BMC pediatrics
Volume number 11
Issue number 57
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2011-06-20
ISSN 1471-2431
Summary Background: Low academic achievement is common and is associated with adverse outcomes such as grade repetition, behavioural disorders and unemployment. The ability to accurately identify these children and intervene before they experience academic failure would be a major advance over the current ‘wait to fail’ model. Recent research suggests that a possible modifiable factor for low academic achievement is working memory, the ability to temporarily store and manipulate information in a ‘mental workspace’. Children with working memory difficulties are at high risk of academic failure. It has recently been demonstrated that working memory can be improved with adaptive training tasks that encourage improvements in working memory capacity. Our trial will determine whether the intervention is efficacious as a selective prevention strategy for young children at risk of academic difficulties and is cost-effective.

Methods/Design:
This randomised controlled trial aims to recruit 440 children with low working memory after a school-based screening of 2880 children in Grade one. We will approach caregivers of all children from 48 participating primary schools in metropolitan Melbourne for consent. Children with low working memory will be randomised to usual care or the intervention. The intervention will consist of 25 computerised working memory training sessions, which take approximately 35 minutes each to complete. Follow-up of children will be conducted at 6, 12 and 24 months post-randomisation through child face-to-face assessment, parent and teacher surveys and data from government authorities. The primary outcome is academic achievement at 12 and 24 months, and other outcomes include child behaviour, attention, health-related quality of life, working memory, and health and educational service
utilisation.

Discussion: A successful start to formal learning in school sets the stage for future academic, psychological and economic well-being. If this preventive intervention can be shown to be efficacious, then we will have the potential to prevent academic underachievement in large numbers of at-risk children, to offer a ready-to-use intervention to the Australian school system and to build international research partnerships along the health education interface, in order to carry our further studies of effectiveness and generalisability.
Notes This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Language eng
Field of Research 111704 Community Child Health
Socio Economic Objective 920204 Evaluation of Health Outcomes
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
HERDC collection year 2011
Copyright notice ©2011, BioMed Central
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30035990

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
Population Health
Open Access Collection
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.