Drill and Practice Versus Rehearsal: An Experimental Study of Two Approaches to Strengthen Verbal Working Memory and Comprehension among Young Children
Researchers are increasingly interested in working memory (WM) training. However, it remains unclear whether it strengthens WM and comprehension among young children. We investigated whether training verbal WM would improve verbal WM and listening comprehension, and whether training effects differed between 2 approaches: drill and practice vs. rehearsal. Fifty-eight first-grade children were randomly assigned to three groups: WM drill and practice, WM rehearsal training, and the control. The two training groups received one 35-minute session of verbal WM training on each of 10 consecutive school days, totaling 5.8 hours. Both groups demonstrated improvement on trained verbal WM tasks, with the rehearsal group showing greater gains. Compared to controls, the rehearsal group also made significant improvements on an untrained verbal WM task (i.e., Listening Recall) and listening comprehension and retell measures. In comparison to controls, the drill and practice group showed significant improvement in listening comprehension, but not on the retell task. Findings suggest that brief but intensive verbal WM training is feasible with young children and can strengthen their verbal WM and comprehension performance. Caveats and implications for theory and future research are discussed.