OU blog

Personal Blogs

E801: Action 3.6

Visible to anyone in the world


E801: Action 3.6: 'Specific reading disability (dyslexia): what have we learned in the past four decades?'

Vellutino, F., Fletcher, J., Snowling, M. & Scanlon, D. (2004) 'Specific reading disability (dyslexia): what have we learned in the past four decades?', Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 45 no. 1, pp. 2-40.

Stage 1: Read the synopsis on p.2, and make no more than two bullet point notes.

  • Alphabetic coding deficits
  • Phonological coding deficits

Stage 2: Read the summary and conclusions, pp.30-31, and make a maximum of 5 bullet point notes, but preferably fewer.

  • Reading primarily a linguistic skill not visual
  • Beginning readers - phonological skills carry greater weight
  • Advanced readers - semantic & syntactic skills carry greater weight
  • Assessment should be targeted to provide individualised intervention

Stage 2b: Read the section with the heading 'Cognitive and biological versus experiential and instructional causes of early reading difficulties,' (pp.25-29), and make no more than 3 bullet notes. Pay particular attention to Marie Clay, and to the IQ discrepancy hypothesis of dyslexia (i.e. the claim that a poor reader with a high IQ is likely to be dyslexic)

  • Acquisition of skills influenced by reading instruction
  • IQ tests depend on knowledge and skills acquired, in part, through reading
  • 67.1% of impaired readers brought to average in 1 semester


Stage 3: Read the implications for teachers, make as many or as few bullets as you feel appropriate, then boil them down. Think how they apply to your setting and context.

  • No clear cut, definitive and unequivocal diagnostic criteria
  • A child may only need low average intelligence to learn to decipher print
  • Assessment unnecessary - individualised intervention better than diagnosis


Stage 4: Now read the whole article from the beginning (perhaps using a highlighter pen).

When you have finished, please reflect on my questions below.

  • What was new to you in the section headed 'Components of reading ability'?
    Orthographic awareness- how letters are organised in written words p5
    Phonological and orthographic awareness are reciprocally related conditions (as one goes up; other goes down ????) p5
    Lexical (vocabulary) and sublexical (participles)- Most theories of spelling propose two major processes for translating between orthography and phonology: a lexical process for retrieving the spellings of familiar words and a sublexical process for assembling the spellings of unfamiliar letter strings based on knowledge of the systematic correspondences between phonemes and graphemes.
    Continuous ability type theories - depends on the assortment of cognitive abilities and the way in which instruction/environment builds on cognitive strengths and mitigates cognitive weaknesses.
  • What is the overarching theme of pp.5-25, where different dyslexia hypotheses are reviewed? (If you have also read Rice and Brooks, 2004, you might find a pithy quotation to summarise these pages in no more than a single sentence)
    ''Dyslexia' is not one thing but many, to the extent that it may be a conceptual clearing-house for a variety of difficulties with a variety of causes' (Rice & Brooks, 2004, p.88)
  • Which classes of reading difficulty are more common:
  • those with biological/genetic roots (i.e. from before the child was born)
  • those whose roots are social (since the child was born)?
    Social roots
  • What core difficulty is commonly shared by most poor readers (whether dyslexic or non-dyslexic)?
    Word identification skills
  • Now that you have read this research review carefully, how confident are you, on the basis of this evidence, that distinguishing between dyslexics and non-dyslexics

(a)  can be accomplished securely,

(b) is vital for the progress of either?
No I do not think it can be accomplished securely and no it is not vital for the progress of either. I agree that it would be best to identify those that are falling behind and then analyse their particular problem and work on individualised action plans. This would help all categories of learners.

Every method appears to succeed with some learners; all methods fail with some learners (Adapted from: Rice & Brooks, 2004, p.87)



Permalink Add your comment
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 422777