An examination of poor readers' approaches to recognising printed words
Warhurst, Amy Caroline
Thesis or dissertation
- © 2008 Amy Caroline Warhurst. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
This thesis aimed to explore the approaches to reading made by poor readers. An examination was made of a compensated adult dyslexic, DB, who did not show the degree of impairment in phonological awareness skills generally reported in studies, yet who read words via a visual route. He did show an atypical pattern of performance on the regularity task, as he showed no advantage in reading regular versus irregular words, but on the other hand he showed only slightly impaired non-word reading. A lexical decision task, split across the hemispheres, revealed that DB had no over-reliance on the right hemisphere (RH) for reading processes, which it has been suggested is characteristic of adult dyslexics, yet on the other hand he did not show the same pattern of results as the non-dyslexic controls.
It was thought probable that due to his age and attendance at university, DB would have become too accustomed to his particular compensatory reading strategies to be able to be taught a more phonological approach within the time constraints of this thesis. Instead, it was deemed more appropriate to examine other, younger, poor readers to see whether they also read visually, and whether they could learn a more phonological approach to improve their reading accuracy.
In a second study, therefore, a group of high-school pupils with reading difficulties took part in a reading intervention programme using a synthetic phonic approach. The inclusion of synthetic phonics was due to recent research showing that this form of phonics is very beneficial for beginning readers. The study was designed to see if it was also effective for children making slow progress in learning to read. In an intervention lasting on average just over 16 hours, mean reading age improved by 24 months in a 14 month period, compared to an improvement of only 5 months over the same period for the control group. The 'visual' readers in the experimental group also became much more phonological in their approach to reading. One child, XP, was of particular interest, displaying a strong tendency to read words visually at pre-test, showing patterns of reading similar to DB, although neither XP nor DB showed signs of severe phonological awareness deficits. At post-test, however, XP showed a robust regularity effect, and much improved non-word reading accuracy, indicative of the adoption of a more phonological approach to reading. Synthetic phonics was therefore shown to be beneficial as a remediation for older readers who have already developed difficulties.
- Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
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