Dyslexia: Research and Implications for Practice

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Presentation by
Dr. Gavin Reid,
Faculty of Education
University of Edinburgh
To LBCT New Zealand August 2001

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Definitions: 1

"Dyslexia may be caused by a combination of phonological, visual and auditory processing deficits, word retrieval and speed of processing may also be present. Every dyslexic person is different and should be treated as an individual."
Adult Dyslexia Organisation (1999)

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Definitions: 2

"Dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties which affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing. Accompanying weaknesses may also be seen in speed of processing, short term memory, sequencing, auditory and visual perception, spoken language and motor skills."
British Dyslexia Association (2000)

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"Dyslexia can be identified as distinctive patterns of difficulties, relating to the processing of information, within a continuum from very mild to severe, which result in restrictions in literacy development and discrepancies in performance within the curriculum."
Reid (1998)

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B.P.S. Report (1999)

"The evidence base supporting the utility of neurologically-based intervention programs for dyslexia is yet to be established." (pg.29)

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Theoretical Explanations:

Biological Level

  • abnormalities in brain asymmetry
  • left hemisphere dysfunction
  • abnormalities in the magnocellular system
  • cerebellar abnormality
  • inhibition of primary reflexes
  • genetic factors

Cognitive Level

  • phonological processing
  • speed of processing
  • working memory
  • metacognitive factors
  • visual processing
  • automaticity

Behavioural Level

  • patterns of errors in reading and spelling
  • difficulty with phonological tasks
  • verbal labeling
  • memory
  • co-ordination
  • directional confusion
  • organisational / time management factors
  • self-esteem

Environmental / Contextual

  • learning styles / cognitive style
  • learning approaches
  • individual differences
  • curriculum factors
  • policy and provision

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Learning styles: definition

Learning Styles are characteristic, affective and physiological behaviours that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with and respond to the learning environment.
Keefe (1987), from Reid (1998)

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Input (perception)

  • visual
  • auditory
  • kinaesthetic
  • tactile

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  • Organising information
  • Utilising information
  • Transferring information
  • Role of prior knowledge
  • Schema
  • Comprehension
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Recall

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Output (performance)

  • Writing
  • Oral Presentation
  • Drawing
  • Diagrammatic
  • Developing appropriate points
  • Organising & planning presentations

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Skills Associated with Hemispheres

  • handwriting
  • language
  • reading
  • phonics
  • locating details & facts
  • talking & reciting
  • following directions
  • listening
  • auditory association
  • spatial awareness
  • shapes & patterns
  • mathematical computation
  • colour sensitivity
  • singing & music
  • art expression
  • creativity
  • visualization
  • feelings & emotions

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  • Methods of Processing information
  • Learning preferences
  • Speed of processing information
  • Strategies
  • Learning and cognitive style

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Observational framework

  • Interaction
    • Pupil / Teacher
    • Peers Attention / Concentration
    • Focus on tasks
    • Major sources of distraction
    • Concentration span on different tasks
  • Organisational aspects
    • Sequence of Activities
    • Organisational Strategies
    • Organisation of materials
    • Amount and nature of teacher direction

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Observational Strategies

  • Reliance on concrete aids
  • Memory strategies
  • Listening skills
  • Oral skills
  • Visual Approaches
  • Learning sequentially / globally

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Emotional Factors

  • Self-Esteem
  • Confidence
  • Motivation
  • Signs of tension

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  • Draw the following shapes:
    • square
    • rectangle
    • circle
    • triangle
    • squiggle

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  • uniform
  • exact
  • facts
  • detail
  • predictable
  • dependable
  • organised
  • structure

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  • transition
  • flexible
  • need scope

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  • good at listening
  • can compromise
  • conciliatory
  • reflective
  • accept different views

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  • ambitious
  • leader
  • needs to achieve
  • good at making decisions
  • purposeful

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  • divergent thinker
  • may be disorganised
  • creative
  • original
  • different way of thinking
  • erratic ?

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Field-Dependent (Global) Learning Style

  • 'Global' Learning is exhibited when students:
    • need to see the whole picture before isolating parts
    • see relationships and often have difficulty with fine distinctions
    • are social
    • want to deal with 'a', 'b' and 'c' together
    • want to have a context in which to fit pieces together
    • believe the 'medium is the message', thus the class atmosphere and a teacher's personality directly affect the learning

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Guidelines for Global Leaners

  • Present learning in a global way:
    • focus on the 'big picture'
    • give an overview & concept
    • Such as:
      • Presenting the overview of a chapter, book or story before specifics
      • Talking through a whole project before starting with step one
      • Starting a new unit by listing 'what we already know'
      • Using big word spaces, so that all the material for a project or topic can be kept out at the same time
  • Make connections among content, integrate learning, identify relationships among subjects
    • Such as:
      • Focusing on patterns, such as word families & number relationships
      • Integrating subjects by organizing curriculum themes and units
      • Using current events & school experiences to teach and practice basic skills
  • Provide a context for learning and a sense of the purpose of the learning
    • Such as:
      • Emphasizing where the lesson is going by outlines and verbal explanations
      • Learning skills in context, such as spelling words from students' own writing
  • Emphazise a positive class climate and helpful relationships with others
    • Such as:
      • Encouraging attention to group work and working with partners
      • Giving frequent praise and external rewards, such as smiles, hugs, pats on the back
      • Attending to non-verbals; 'the medium is the message', including teachers' facial expressions and the seating arrangement in the room

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Mind Mapping

  • Generation of ideas
  • Organisation of ideas
  • Useful topics to start with:
    • Plans for the day
    • Plans for the week
    • Memories of a specific event
    • Strategies for a new project
    • Interests & hobbies
    • Highlights of recent book
  • Use of symbols

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Mind Mapping

  • Self Direction
  • Self Monitoring
  • Self Assessment

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Self Direction

  • What is my goal?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What do I need?
  • What resources do I need?
  • What is my deadline?

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Self Monitoring

  • How am I doing?
  • Do I need other resources?
  • What else can I do?

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Self Assessment

  • Did I accomplish my goal?
  • Was I efficient?
  • What worked?
  • What did not work?
  • Why did it not work?

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Dynamic Assessment

Dynamic Assessment Static Assessment
Monitors how the child learns
Tests what the child knows at that time

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  • poor planners perceive a page in a disorganised manner
  • choose incorrect targets
  • often impulsive
  • make many errors
  • fail to change their strategy if inefficient (Ayers 1995)

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Metacognitive Strategies

  • Visual Imagery - discussing and sketching images from text
  • Summary sentences - identify the main ideas in text
  • Webbing - concept maps of the ideas from a text
  • Self- interrogation - ask questions about what they already knew about a topic and what they expected to learn from the new passage

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Theoretical Explanations: Implications

  • clear working definition
  • flexible approaches assessment / teaching
  • assessment - school / class based
  • range of provision
  • implications for the authority e.g. Swansea
  • whole staff responsibility - not necessarily specialist
  • training of class and subject teachers
  • initial teacher education input

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Implications - Assessment

  • continuous assessment - related to actual curriculum
  • why psychometric assessment? - needs to be diagnostic
  • dynamic / assisted assessment
  • portfolio assessment

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Implications - Teaching

  • learning styles
  • aware of learning preferences
  • metacognitive awareness
  • schema
  • study skills
  • mind mapping
  • strategies for different styles
  • importance of classroom environment
  • whole school approaches

Slide 42

I saw the crescent ...

Brigid Hayes
attended & completed

The Whole of the Moon
August 2001

... you saw the whole of the moon

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'In the Mind's Eye'
T. West

'We ought to begin to pay less attention to getting everyone over the same hill using the same path. We may wish to encourage some to take different routes to the same end. Then we might see good reasons for paying careful attention to their descriptions of what they have found. We may wish to follow them some day'

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  • Reid, G. (1998) Dyslexia: A Practitioners Handbook, Wiley
  • Reid, G. and Kirk, J.(2001) Dyslexia in Adults: Education and Employment. Wiley
  • Given, B. and Reid, G (1999) Learning Styles: A Guide for Teachers and Parents. Red Rose Publications, 20 St.Georges Road, St. Anne's on Sea, Lancashire.
  • Weedon, C. and Reid, G. (2001) Listening and Literacy Index. Hodder and Stoughton, London
  • Peer, L and Reid, G.(eds) (2000) Multilingualism, Literacy and Dyslexia. David Fulton Publishers, London
  • Peer, L. and Reid, G. (2001) Dyslexia: Successful Inclusion in the Secondary School. David Fulton Publishers.

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Further information

  • Dr. Gavin Reid, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Edinburgh, Holyrood Campus, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ Scotland, U.K.
  • email gavin.reid@ed.ac.uk