Hover to see how Factors connect to Working Memory. Then click connected Factors to explore strategies related to multiple Factors.
Working Memory, a component of executive functioning, allows a person to temporarily hold and manipulate information to apply in other processes. With our Working Memory, we recall and apply the knowledge stored in our Short- and Long-term Memories to help understand what we are learning. Working Memory is likely required for retaining information during math problem solving, in particular with more novel or complex problem types. When Working Memory is overtaxed, a math student can appear to have a poor attention span and be easily distracted because they struggle recalling and using information.
Working Memory can also be called updating. An influential model of Working Memory is Baddeley's Model of Working Memory that lays out four components, each considered to have a limited capacity:
Cognitive load is another important element of Working Memory and refers to the amount of mental effort being expended by Working Memory during different tasks. Cognitive Load Theory proposes that instruction can be designed in a way to reduce cognitive load. It also differentiates between different types of cognitive load:
Teachers support language development by using and providing vocabulary and syntax that is appropriately leveled (e.g., using simple sentences when introducing complex concepts).
Content that is provided in clear, short chunks can support students' Working Memory.
As students solve problems in a group, they learn new strategies and practice communicating their mathematical thinking.
Students activate more cognitive processes by exploring and representing their understandings in visual form.
Thinking of and about patterns encourages learners to look for and understand the rules and relationships that are critical components of mathematical reasoning.
Teaching students to recognize common problem structures helps them transfer solution methods from familiar to unfamiliar problems.
Discussing strategies for solving mathematics problems after initially letting students attempt to problem solve on their own helps them understand how to organize their mathematical thinking and intentionally tackle problems.
Teaching students how to label, identify, and manage Emotion helps them learn Self-regulation skills.
Analyzing incorrect worked examples is especially beneficial for helping students develop a conceptual understanding of mathematical processes.
As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.
Multiple tables and chairs on wheels allow for setting up the classroom to support the desired learning outcomes of each activity.
Teachers sharing math-to-self, math-to-math, and math-to-world connections models this schema building.
Multiple display spaces help develop oral language skills as well as Social Awareness & Relationship Skills by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens recall.
Visual representations help students understand what a number represents as well as recognize relationships between numbers.
Multiple writing surfaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Maintaining consistent classroom routines and schedules ensures that students are able to trust and predict what will happen next.
Sentence frames or stems can serve as language support to enrich students' participation in academic discussions.
When students explain their thinking process aloud, they recognize the strategies they or others use and solidify their understanding.
Having students verbally repeat information such as instructions ensures they have heard and supports remembering.
Providing visuals to introduce, support, or review instruction activates more cognitive processes to support learning.
Wait time, or think time, of three or more seconds after posing a question increases how many students volunteer and the length and accuracy of their responses.
Analyzing and discussing solved problems helps students develop a deeper understanding of abstract mathematical processes.
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