Relationship between phonological working memory, metacognitive skills and reading comprehension in children with learning disabilities

Abstract Reading requires the activation of several cognitive processes, some of which are basic, e.g. recognizing letters and words, whereas others are complex, such as working memory and ability to think about one's own learning strategies. One condition for fulfilling a complex cognitive task, such as understanding a text, is the ability to maintain and process information, which depends on working memory. Objective To analyze the ability of using metacognitive strategies for reading, the phonological working memory of school children with learning disabilities, and also determine if there is relation between these skills and reading comprehension. Method The sample consisted of 30 school-age children and teenagers of both genders, aged 8 to 12 years, who were enrolled in primary school. They were divided in two groups, experimental (EG) and control (CG). All children were subjected to evaluation of reading comprehension, phonological working memory, and use of metacognitive skills for reading. The results were compared between groups through the Mann-Whitney test, and correlation between variables was analyzed through Spearman correlation test. Result Statistical comparison between EG and CG showed statistically significant difference. Positive and effective correlation was observed between reading comprehension, phonological working memory and metacognitive tests. Conclusion children with learning disabilities presented deficits in phonological working memory and use of metacognitive strategies. The positive and effective correlation between the abilities analyzed suggests that failure in the phonological working memory and use of metacognitive strategies interfere with reading comprehension.