Cultural differences on the children's memory scale



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Memory is an essential component for learning. Deficits in verbal short-term memory (STM) and working memory (WM) are thought to hinder language learning, reading acquisition, and academic achievement. The Children?s Memory Scale (CMS) is an assessment instrument used to identify memory and learning deficits and strengths in children ages five through 16. This study investigated the impact of culture and parent educational level (PEL) on student performance on the Children?s Memory Scale using the CMS standardization data. The major question addressed was: Will CMS subtest performance differ significantly between ethnic groups or as a function of PEL? The results of this study support a relationship between STM and WM performance and culture. Culture as defined by ethnicity minimally impacted student subtest performance on the CMS when PEL was taken into account. In contrast, PEL was significantly associated with student subtest performance within each ethnic group. Student subtest performance improved with each increase in PEL regardless of ethnicity. CMS subtest performance of Hispanic and African American students was most affected by PEL; however, no difference occurred in subtest performance by ethnicity or as a function of PEL for African American and Hispanic students on the Family Pictures subtest which examines visual and auditory memory processes through recall of everyday life tasks in meaningful context. Although statistical significance was found between CMS subtest performance and cultural factors, the effect sizes were mainly in the small range and variance was not specific to any one subtest. Larger effect sizes were found on verbal subtests which in previous studies have been found to be most impacted by quality of schooling and lower PELs. Mean score differences did not exceed one standard deviation with the exception of one subtest. The results of this study provide a better understanding of the effect of culture and PEL on memory and learning.