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arithmetic operations problem size effect working memory interference control

The Effect of Problem Size on Children’s Arithmetic Performance: Interference Control in Working Memory

Selma Boz

This study investigates school-age children’s arithmetic operations performance while solving larger-size problems which produces interferences .

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This study investigates school-age children’s arithmetic operations performance while solving larger-size problems which produces interferences in memory. Complex problems can trigger competing responses in working memory, which are irrelevant to a task goal and increase the likelihood of interference from previously learned problems (De Visscher et al., 2018). Interference control in working memory is required to be able to manage and suppress irrelevant information while performing cognitive tasks such as arithmetic problem-solving (Unsworth, 2010). The present study explores potential cognitive processes while performing arithmetic tasks and emphasizes the important role of interference control for better performance in such tasks. This study applied a mixed-effect model experimental design. Forty-four primary school children were involved in the study. The results showed that children’s performance in terms of correct responses was similar for both small-size and large-size problems. However, their response speed was significantly lower in larger-size problems, which created more interference in working memory.

Keywords: Arithmetic operations, problem-size effect, working memory, interference control.

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