What is "The Rule of Seven?"? Applying it to Enhance Working Memory in Children
By Andrew Loh
Working memory is very vital for learning. With deficient working
memory, children may never achieve the best results that they are
actually capable of doing. Working memory, which also known VM, is a
good indicator of school performance rather than IQ. What happens to
children who have deficiently working memory? Most of them are
misunderstood both in their classroom and out of it. Working memory is
the dedicated workhorse of human brain. It is an extremely versatile
system that tightly holds and glues various bits of migrating
information within the mind where the brain could easily manipulate.
This whole exercise will consist of execution of both verbal and
nonverbal tasks and activities like reasoning and comprehension. This
will eventually available for future information processing and
Working memory and short term memory is somewhat
different based on how you define them. Working memory may include the
Many sub systems that store, collate and manipulate
both visual and verbal information.
A centrally located executive
area that run and manage these sub systems.
It also includes
visual and pictorial representation of all possible working moves.
It can streamline your awareness about the flow of information into and
out of memory base.
Note: However, all these modes of working are stored just for a short time.
All working memory tasks and
working need very tight monitoring while each action that it performs is
goal oriented and objective filled; this is performed even with the
presence of a diverse number of interferences and distractions.
Working memory works in collaboration with short term memory. In fact,
various cognitive processes are mandatory to achieve this short term
memory. Short term memory's control of both executive and attention is
possible only with working memory. Once this is achieved, the brain will
be able to allow:
Interim integration of various cognitive processes.
Processing of information.
Disposal and retrieval of minute details and information.
In other words, all these
processes are always associated with working memory and short term
memory is thought to decline with age. In other words, working memory is
likely to be at its highest capability in the age range of five and 25
years. Therefore, children should be taught working memory techniques
early in their age. There is a direct link between working memory,
learning, attention and cognition. There is a great deal of mystery
involved with working memory. Experts believe that working memory
displays a limited capacity. There is a sense of quantification involved
with this capacity limit.
Miller (1956), a leading expert in learning, suggested a norm for quantification of this capacity limit
related to short term memory and referred to this as the “magical number
seven” Most of the things learnt by children are in the form of digits,
letters, sentences, words, numbers and other related units. Miller
noticed that memory span children surround seven important elements
which he called chunks.
Latest research conducted in the last three decades also revealed that
memory span also depends on the type of chunks deployed for retrieval.
Here are some of them:
Digits – seven spans
Letters – six spans
Words – five spans
Note: Every feature within a
category that occurs on a chunk could be different. For example, longer
words will have lower spans when compared to shorter words. In essence,
Verbal content like digits, letters and words will have memory span that
depends directly on the amount of time that a child takes to recite the
content loudly and on the grammatical structure of the content. However,
pooled research findings suggest us the following:
Working memory in children has an overall capacity of about four chunks in
younger adults (less than five years) when compared to grown-up
children. Most adults can recite about seven digits in their right order
although some people can recite up to a total of eighty digits. A
brilliant numerically gifted memory expert, Rajan Mahadevan, was a
Guinness Book of World Records award winner, who recited from memory the
first 31,811 digits of pi (23/7). According to the Wikipedia article on
him “his digit span was found to be nearly ten times the average, it is
estimated that, before the effects of practice, it was at a more modest
but nonetheless exceptional 15 digits.”
This feat is possible to
achieve by using two strategies:
Use an encoding strategy
where all the digits are encoded and grouped (three to five chunks).
Later, encode these groups as single chink
For example, consistent practice will help a person to recite all historical events
that happened in the past. Similar events that occurred in the past
could be grouped together and tagged with numbers. For example, if there
are ten countries that had their independence day on the same day could
be tagged together so that recitation becomes easier at a later stage.
The next article
“The Rule of Seven” - Practical Applications to Boost Working Memory
will tell and describe you how working memory in
children could be improved by using some simper principles.