Effects of working memory updating on children's arithmetic performance and strategy use: A study in computational estimation

Svenja Hammerstein*, Sebastian Poloczek, Patrick Lösche, Patrick Lemaire, Gerhard Büttner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The current study investigated how children's working memory updating processes influence arithmetic performance and strategy use. Large samples of third and fourth graders were asked to find estimates of two-digit addition problems (e.g., 42 + 76). On each problem, children could choose between the rounding-down strategy (i.e., rounding both operands down to the closest decades) or the rounding-up strategy (i.e., rounding both operands up to the closest decades). Four tasks were used to assess updating. Analyses of strategy use revealed that children with more efficient updating showed higher levels of (a) strategy flexibility (i.e., they were less likely to use a single strategy on all or nearly all problems within a test block), (b) strategy adaptivity (i.e., they selected the better strategy overall more often and were more adaptive specifically on homogeneous and rounding-up problems), and (c) strategy performance (i.e., they tended to execute strategies more quickly, especially on homogeneous and larger problems). Finally, updating exerted a more important role for problem type effects in younger children than in older children. These findings have important implications for further understanding how working memory updating processes influence children's arithmetic performance and age-related differences therein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-191
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Early online date3 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

Structured keywords

  • Developmental
  • Memory


  • Arithmetic
  • Computational estimation
  • Development
  • Executive functions
  • Strategy use
  • Working memory

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