Working Memory Components as Predictors of Word Problem Solving: Does Rapid Automatized Naming Speed Mediate the Relationship?
Numerous studies have established the relationships between working memory (WM), rapid automatized naming speed, reading comprehension, calculation, and word problem solving (WPS). However, there is limited research on the differential effects of the WM components (central executive, phonological loop, visual-spatial sketchpad) on WPS, and how speed, reading, calculation, and knowledge of word problem components mediate that relationship. The sample consisted of 413 between ages 6-10 (M = 8.38, SD = .51). The results yielded three important findings: 1) without any mediators, the phonological loop was the best predictor of WPS; 2) when other variables were entered into the model, reading and calculation were the strongest direct predictors of WPS; 3) results of the mediation model showed that speed mediated the relationship between the central executive component of WM and WPS, while reading mediated the relationship between the central executive and phonological loop and WPS. The educational implications of these findings are discussed.