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Working memory training improves reasoning skills in secondary social studies education: evidence from an experimental study


Evidence suggests that Working memory abilities and transfer of (content-based) WM training correlate with (school-based) deductive reasoning achievements. In this study, a combined WM-capacity and WM-reasoning strategies training is incorporated in secondary school social studies curricula to investigate its effects on reasoning achievements compared to control group conditions. Four secondary classes in three schools in the Netherlands participated in the experiment with a total of 81 general education medium track 16 year old students. WM-capacity and reasoning achievements improved significantly after 4 and 8 weeks of training and remained significant 8 weeks after training ended. The (significant) gain in reasoning abilities is demonstrated in both experimental subgroups, while both control group results did not improve. The study supports the notion that transfer of WM-training to deductive (school-based) reasoning can be successful when WM-capacity training is supported by strategy-training and both components contain content-based contexts. Furthermore, it supports preliminary evidence of accelerated learning following WM-training.

Key words: reasoning abilities, secondary education, social studies, brain based learning, working memory

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