About the Research
Over a million people in the UK are affected by learning disabilities. However, there is little research into learning disabilities. This limits understanding and progress.
What is a learning disability?
There are lots of terms used and many can be controversial or confusing. Learning disability is the most commonly used term, but other terms such as learning difficulties or learning issues are also used.
1. Begin in childhood
2. Cause difficulties with thinking and reasoning
3. Cause difficulties with daily life, often known as ‘adaptive functioning’.
We want to find out more about procedural memory in children with learning disabilities and how this relates to language and literacy. Procedural memory involves skills and abilities that are learnt over a period of time through practice and repetition.
The project is funded by the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund and is supported by MENCAP. The Baily Thomas Charitable Fund aims to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities by funding research in this area.
The Research Process...
There has been some research into working memory in children with learning disabilities. Working memory is a system that temporarily stores and manages information. Performance on working memory tasks is highly linked to academic performance. Children with learning disabilities often have difficulties with working memory.
However, we know a lot less about procedural memory in children with learning disabilities. Procedural memory is a different type of memory. It involves skills and abilities that are learnt over a period of time through practice and repetition. This memory is important for commonly repeated, well-known or ‘automated’ activities in everyday life, such as following known routes, learning implicit rules of grammar, learning new words, or skilled reading.
We want to find out more about procedural memory in children with learning disabilities.
We want to find out:
1. Do children with and without a learning disability have good procedural memory?
2. Are children with good procedural memory also good at language and reading tasks?
We will be comparing the performance of the children with learning disabilities to those without.
The Research Assistant working on the project (Rachel Dennan) visits each child at school 2 or 3 times.
Each visit lasts 30-45 minutes. The visits take about 90 minutes in total.
In each session the child will do some tasks and games:
Memory games on an iPad
Word games with pictures
Thinking about shapes
Telling us what some words mean
The tasks are designed to be fun and interesting. Children usually enjoy taking part.
To be continued...