Foundations of Practice in Working Memory

Educators understand what working memory is, how it affects student learning, and can identify general strategies to support working memory in the classroom context.
Made by Friday Institute @ NC State

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Educator recognizes the impact of working memory on student learning and can identify strategies that help or hinder working memory in students.

Method Components

Demonstrate Understanding of Working Memory is the first micro-credential in the Learning Differences stack.

The full Learning Differences stack includes six micro-credentials:

  1. Demonstrate Understanding
    • Of Working Memory
    • Of Executive Function
    • Of Learner Motivation
  2. Build a Student-Centered Plan
  3. Apply Student-Centered Strategies
  4. Engage Your Peers in Supporting Students’ Learning Differences

What is working memory?

Working memory refers to one’s ability to consume, retain, and then use information. Some people have an innate ability to store vast amounts of information; others need more bite-sized chunks. Too often, difficulties with working memory are misinterpreted as a lack of understanding of the content. Thus, developing and supporting students’ working memory is imperative.

Example instructional strategies for developing working memory strategies in students:

  • If you provide directions verbally, give directions one at a time. Or, provide written directions so students can refer back if they forget.
  • On assessments, allow students to “brain dump” their knowledge on scratch paper before beginning the test.
  • During lessons, pull out key points and reiterate them to make them salient for students with limited working memory.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Darling-Hammond, Linda. Powerful Teacher Education: Lessons from Exemplary Programs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2006. 80. Print.
  • Gathercole, Susan E., and Susan J. Pickering. “Working Memory Deficits in Children with Low Achievements in the National Curriculum at 7 Years of Age.” British Journal of Educational Psychology 70.2 (2000): 177-94. Web. doi: 10.1348/000709900158047


  • How your “Working Memory” Makes Sense of the World
    Educational psychologist Peter Doolittle provides a practical introduction and explanation of working memory and how it affects how individuals and students interpret and understand their surroundings and new learning.
  • Working Memory is the Search Engine of the Mind
    COGMED provides a breakdown of the general functioning of working memory at different school ages and strategies for identifying students who need further support in this area.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a “Yes” for Parts 1 and 2. Through any of a variety of methods (written, scanned, audio, video, and/or multimedia), educator demonstrates an understanding of what working memory is and how it influences learning. You must also effectively reflect on how working memory applies to your instruction.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • What is working memory?
  • What resources were most helpful in developing your understanding of working memory, and why?

Part 2. Reflection evidence/artifacts

Please provide an insightful reflection that demonstrates your understanding of both the impacts of working memory on learning and the teaching strategies that may support or hinder learners with various working memory abilities. Please submit one or more artifacts (such as links to writing, scanned documents, images, video, audio, or other media) as your reflection.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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