Teaching Strategies for Students with Short-Term Memory Problems

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Students with short-term memory problems often need specific support strategies in place to help them master skills and keep up with their peers. Let's look at how poor short-term memory affects student performance and discuss what you, as the teacher, can do to help.

Problems with Memory

Jackson is a third-grade student in Ms. Heiner's class. Ms. Heiner has noticed that Jackson is falling behind. He's frequently off-task while the rest of the class is working. He doesn't finish his assignments and can't seem to answer comprehension questions after reading from his textbooks.

During math, he has major difficulties completing complex multiplication problems even though Ms. Heiner has reviewed the steps for completing these problems many times. He does not seem to master the same material that the rest of the class understands.

When the class is working on a specific skill over several days, such as grammar and punctuation, Jackson starts his work each day as if he's never seen or learned it before. Ms. Heiner begins to suspect that Jackson has poor short-term memory skills.

Poor Short-Term Memory

Short-term memory refers to the ability to recall and process small amounts of information for up to one minute. Students use their recall and short-term memory for a variety of skills needed for school success. For example, teachers often give their class two- or three-step directions to follow: 'Please find your seat and take out a pencil, a ruler, and your math assignment from yesterday.' Students with poor short-term memories may remember one thing from that list and forget the rest.

Students with poor short-term memory might be impacted as follows:

  • Forget information on a subject they have already learned
  • Fail to complete all tasks when given a list of instructions
  • Have trouble remembering what they've just read
  • Forget what others have said during conversations

These challenges can affect students' behavior, social interaction, and academic progress in all school subjects.

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