Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jenni L. Redifer (Director), Lance W. Hahn, Matthew C. Shake


Educational research has a long history of investigating factors that are linked to improved academic performance. Here I examined research on three factors that impact academic performance—working memory (WM), cognitive load, and motivation. Although each of these factors were known to impact academic performance, there were no studies that examined the combined effect of these three factors on performance. The current study attempted to examine the potential connections between these factors, and their collective impact on strategies for learning in the context of math performance. Experiment 1 tested the impact of WM, cognitive load, and motivation for a math task in an online population, and Experiment 2 tested these impacts for an in-lab sample. In both samples, manipulations of cognitive load and motivation were ineffective, but significant relationships were discovered for individual differences on these constructs. Motivation and cognitive load were related, and so were cognitive load and WM. In addition, all of these variables were related to performance. Further research on the connections among these variables is needed to understand their relative impacts on math performance.


Cognitive Psychology | Educational Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior