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Improving Working Memory
Last registered on August 02, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Improving Working Memory
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001473
Initial registration date
August 02, 2016
Last updated
August 02, 2016 1:29 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Behavioural Insights Team
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2016-01-01
End date
2017-12-21
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Clustered RCT to investigate an intervention delivered to year 3 pupils, designed to try to help pupils who are behind

the class average in numeracy. It is expected that a substantial proportion of these children might

have lower performance in working memory. The intervention combines two aspects of working

memory training: strategies and practice. The strategies (rehearsal, association, using fingers) are

taught by Teaching Assistants (TAs) in structured sessions, with support from computer games.

Practice is encouraged by use of the computer games. The tuition and computer game time take place additionally

to maths teaching.

The primary research question this evaluation is designed to answer is:

 What is the effect of WM and WM+ on children’s number skills at the end of year 3?

The evaluation will also estimate the impact of WM and WM+ on the following secondary outcomes:

 Working memory at the end of year 3

 Attention and behaviour in class at the end of year 3.

Impact will also be estimated separately for pupils receiving free schools meals.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Delargy, Clare and Hazel Northcott. 2016. "Improving Working Memory." AEA RCT Registry. August 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1473-2.0.
Former Citation
Delargy, Clare and Hazel Northcott. 2016. "Improving Working Memory." AEA RCT Registry. August 02. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1473/history/9885.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention is delivered to year 3 pupils, and is designed to try to help pupils who are behind

the class average in numeracy. It is expected that a substantial proportion of these children might

have lower performance in working memory. The intervention combines two aspects of working

memory training: strategies and practice. The strategies (rehearsal, association, using fingers) are

taught by Teaching Assistants (TAs) in structured sessions, with support from computer games.

Practice is encouraged by use of the computer games. The TAs will be trained by Oxford (the project

team) in a one-day training, along with a link teacher at each school. Oxford and the link teacher

monitor and support implementation. The tuition and computer game time take place additionally

to maths teaching.

A modified version of the intervention that is blended with games from the mathematical reasoning

curriculum will also be tested in this trial (if a sufficient number of schools can be recruited – see

below). The rationale is that pupils who are behind in their maths may require additional help with

working memory, but also with maths-specific content. This blended intervention will be delivered

over the same time period.



The trial will therefore potentially have three arms. The Working Memory (WM) intervention and

the blended working memory and number skills (WM+) intervention will be compared with a control

group. The WM and WM+ interventions will be of the same length. Some variation in the expected

length of delivery is likely in practice. Schools will be directed to allocate a total of 8-10 hours TA

time (with a 50/50 split between TA time and games) over the course of a term.
Intervention Start Date
2017-01-01
Intervention End Date
2017-05-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary research question this evaluation is designed to answer is:

 What is the effect of WM and WM+ on children’s number skills at the end of year 3?

The evaluation will also estimate the impact of WM and WM+ on the following secondary outcomes:

 Working memory at the end of year 3

 Attention and behaviour in class at the end of year 3.

Impact will also be estimated separately for pupils receiving free schools meals.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
This will be a cluster randomised trial. Randomisation will be at school level. The number of arms

depends on how many schools are recruited. The target is to recruit 115 schools and to have three

arms – WM, WM+ and control. If the number of schools recruited falls below 110, the trial will have

only two arms (WM and control). The control group will be a ‘business as usual’ control where

schools are expected to continue with normal classroom teaching and support for eligible pupils.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomisation will be conducted using STATA.
Randomization Unit
Schools
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
115
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,700
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
58 treatment schools, 57 control schools
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
.18
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers