Could not retrieve telephone-number, Could not retrieve telephone-number, Welcome to the discussion area of the Dyslexia Positive website. The idea is that anyone interested in dyslexia can join in a discussion based on themes initiated by a member of the Dyslexia Positive team. Please participate by commenting on the articles and feel free to ask any questions!
Showing posts with label memory. Show all posts

Posted 24th August, 2017 by Sue Partridge

Could not retrieve telephone-number, Could not retrieve telephone-number,

CREVT-3 Comprehensive Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary Test, Third Edition

What do you think this test measures? If there were a U.K. version would you use it?

notes by Sue Partridge 

What it measures:

  • Receptive vocabulary
  • Expressive vocabulary
  • But only for spoken language, not necessarily for reading
  • Receptive = matching a spoken word to a picture (multiple choice). It is like naming as in rapid naming tests.
  • Expressive = being able to give a meaning of a word and talk about that meaning in some detail.  So, this is like the WRIT Vocabulary subtest.
  • A general vocabulary index is calculated by combining the two sub scores
  • It compares scores for ages 5 – 89, so giving a standardised score, based on an overall sample of 1535 subjects, USA, 2011.

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Posted 22nd January, 2017 by Sue Partridge

Could not retrieve telephone-number, Could not retrieve telephone-number,

There were some really big names at the BDA conference in 2016, many of them world experts on reading (though still no one who talks specifically about adults).  Here are a few highlights, one “so-what” and one lowlight for me:

  • In a recent study, Susan Gathercole had been looking at underlying factors that might explain difficulties with reading, vocabulary and maths, concentrating on executive function, working memory and inattention.  Perhaps surprisingly she  found that poor working memory is not a good predictor of reading difficulty. However, good working memory may be a protective factor for problems with reading and maths.
  • Karin Landerl, researching German speaking children was surprised to find a link between problems with reading and maths but not between reading and spelling.  She was still not sure of the reason for this.  Relevant to my work with adults, a longitudinal study showed that reading difficulties are persistent through childhood, despite support.  Even more reason for us to find new approaches for adults!
  • Tom Nicholson was speaking to the converted in urging us to combine phonics with real reading. He did however drop in a controversial point.  Phonological awareness may be a consequence of reading acquisition, rather than a requirement for reading. His keynote address gave a historical overview about the impact on phonological awareness training on success in acquiring reading skills, with little input from more recent studies. He comes from the point of view of “liking phonics and enjoying giving phonics instruction.”  However, in his last but one slide he cited research from Castles and Coltheart (2004), Ehri (1998), Johnston and Watson (2005) to say that this could be an issue of chicken and egg. Maybe we see good phonemic awareness in successful readers, not because they have been specifically trained in this, but because the process of learning to read itself gives a degree of phonemic awareness. He reminded us of studies denying the effect of phonemic awareness training, though these are well outweighed by the studies that show a positive effect. Finally, he made the remark (without a formal reference) that phonemic awareness training should be combined with reading of text to help improve letter-sound awareness.
  • Don Compton has investigated more about comprehension and found a positive link between reading/listening comprehension and prior knowledge. Is this surprising?
  • A new version of the Adult Reading Test (ART)  was due out soon, with improvements. Rob Fidler pleased me by mentioning not just their extensive validation data, but also case study findings that highlight the strength of a diagnostic problem solving approach to reading support, using qualitative observations from testing.
  • I have to confess to having been very excited at the prospect of hearing Elena Grigorenko speak for the first time (having heard her co-author on the Dyslexia Debate, Joe Elliott previously).  I was less excited at the prospect of Maggie Snowling, as I have heard her many times and been disappointed in her narrow stance on reading and dyslexia.  At the BDA international conference in March 2016, however, I was proved wrong. Grigorenko was boring and uninspiring, spending far too long on the historical context and then whizzing through some rather difficult information from her latest research about mapping the phenotype of reading difficulty to specific points in the genome.  We were told of exciting news coming out in a journal soon… (too hush, hush for her to share it)
  • By contrast, Maggie Snowling brought well-reasoned insights into her now more balanced view of dyslexia, as broader phenotype that includes underlying language difficulties and possible co-occurring difficulties in motor and executive function (including attention and concentration).  Her account of longitudinal studies (so far from age 3.5 to age 9) was fascinating.  I do hope she and her group carry on to see those children into early adulthood!.
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Posted 20th January, 2017 by Sue Partridge

Could not retrieve telephone-number, Could not retrieve telephone-number,

Look Cover Write Check (LCWC) is more commonly used as a routine for enabling learners to increase the number of words they can spell through regular and systematic routines to enhance memory.

In my study researching strategies to enable adults to read more effectively I developed a range of guidance sheets covering 4 broad strands:  word attack skills, fluency, vocabulary development and comprehension.

The guidance sheet on enhanced LCWC contains the following instructions:

Take a target word and analyse its components (syllables, sounds, patterns, words within words, etc.).

  • Use colour and highlight shape to make the word look more memorable.
  • Exaggerate the pronunciation, if this helps, but also know how to read it in the standard way.  Compare the two.
  • Devise a mnemonic, if this helps.
  • Emphasise the SAY at each stage of the process to make explicit the reading element.
  • The routine for the learner is then as follows:
  1. Look at the word and say it.
  2. Cover the word, see it in your mind’s eye and say it.
  3. Keep the word covered and write it.  Say it as you write.
  4. Check the word you wrote against the original and systematically correct any errors.
  5. Say the word again and visualise seeing it in a piece of reading material.
  6. Repeat this routine three or four times per week.
  7. At the end of the week the tutor checks if the learner can read this and similar sounding/looking words (e.g. if they learned ‘train’, check to see if they can read brain, drain, plain, explain, mountain, etc. – see how many extra words they can read).
  8. If possible read or read a text where the target words occur to check that the learner can also read these words in context.

We discovered during my study that it is wise to decide in advance if you are using LCWC exclusively for spelling or for reading rather than expecting to cover both.   This was particularly important if a learner liked exaggerated pronunciation as a strategy to make a word more memorable for spelling, as this then influenced the way they read the word.

The key for me is the use of dynamic strategies to make the word more memorable in the first place, using whichever multisensory approach the reader finds most helpful.  For some people this stage is sufficient to embed a word into a reasonable reading vocabulary.  However other adult readers need the added routine that the LCWC protocol affords to make the transfer from short-term to long-term memory.

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Posted 29th May, 2014 by Sue Partridge

Could not retrieve telephone-number, Could not retrieve telephone-number,

Elliott, J.G. and Grigorenko, E.L (2014) The Dyslexia Debate, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

I have just finished reading this book, which, it is fair to say, has caused and possibly courted some controversy in the media as well as in academic circles and among practitioners.  Even before it was published, there were two excellent commentaries on it by academics who had clearly obtained advance copies:

Dorothy Bishop of St John’s College Oxford


Anne Castles, Kevin Whedall and Mandy Nayton from universities in Australia

They are both well-reasoned arguments for why we should read the book and respect its evidence base, though not necessarily agree  with its ultimate conclusion that the term dyslexia should no longer be used.

Here are my thoughts.

  1. The first thing to say about this book is that it provides a really comprehensive review of the literature, both historical accounts and up to the minute research in this field.  I haven’t ever seen such an extensive list of references in a book that is targetted at a lay audience as well as academics.  It will form an excellent resource.  I wish I had had such a good list of sources when I was completing my doctorate!
  2. It also has a useful reminder of how the notion of dyslexia as a discrepancy between high IQ and reading ability is “largely discredited.” (p 69) This cannot be said often enough, both on ethical grounds, and also for practical reasons, as “the use of the IQ test as a proxy for cognitive potential is itself highly contested. ” (p 101)  Intelligence tests are such blunt instruments for coming to any diagnostic conclusions.
  3. The authors use this point to bolster their argument for abandoning the term dyslexia, since some individuals and their parents seek to claim dyslexia, if linked to high IQ, erroneously, as a way of showing they or their children are not just slow at learning.  However, in my mind, this is stretching the logic.  If people have false beliefs about the nature of dyslexia, then put them right!  No need to discard the term, just because peole use it incorrectly.
  4. This book gives a really thorough account of the different theories of the aetiology for dyslexia.  In particular, it is refreshing that the authors note that “phonological awareness appears to be rather less important for older poorer readers than it is for children… ” (p 196).  This is certainly something that I have said all along from my experience and research with adults.
  5. There is a great discussion about the relationship of working memory to reading (pp 233 – 239), and in particular some insights into the role of phonological memory as opposed to phonological awareness.  Elliott and Grigorenko draw on the research of Wagner, one of co-authors of the CTOPP and TOWRE tests we use,  which actually casts doubt on the influence of phonological memory on word recognition, except when dealing with multisyllabic words. They also question ” the value of digit span tasks as the particular tasks may not generalise well to tasks such as reading” (p 234).  I have always said that the three composite scores and their subtests in CTOPP measure different things and can give rise to really discrepant scores in adults.
  6. On a more general level, Elliott and Grigorenko make the useful point that there are vast differences in the research literature in the way dyslexia is assessed, and the cut-off points (in terms of standard deviations below the norm) that are chosen to define subjects who are dyslexic.  This makes it very difficult to generalise from research findings.
  7. They also point out how difficult it is to compare the different intervention tools used and their effect sizes in the research literature, for a similar reason; we are not comparing like with like.
  8. The concluding chapter of this book is convincing in many aspects… why stop to worry about whether it is dyslexia or not if you could spend your time more efficiently as an assessor and/or practitioner in making recommendations for more effective support.  The authors remind us of the need to go beyond just word reading when assessing an individual’s reading ability, yet they seem wary of profiling as a strategy for assessment of need and appear particularly resistant to the notion that dyslexia can confer strengths.
  9. So finally their overall message…they seem to say that the  term dyslexia is not useful because no one can agree what it is.  They want it to be somthing to do with a reading disorder and are resistent to the idea that it could encompass anything else.  They are wary of all of the divergent theories of aetiology.  They want practioners to concentrate their efforts on effective intervention…
  10. In addition to the counter arguments raised by the blogs mentioned above, I have one further point.:  How do you account for the experience of adults assessed as dyslexic, where we often discover it is more than a reading disorder?  Adults with dyslexia (whether diagnosed as children or newly as adults) usually have a history of idiosyncratic acquisition of literacy skills including reading.  They may no longer manifest any problems with word recognition, but there are  residual effects, which it useful to profile.  So I would commend Elliot and Gregorenko to ponder more on the field of adult dyslexia and also look at specialist teacher assessment reports for adults are really rich in unique profiling and detailed recommendations for support.  High quality asessment and individualised interventions, which impact on success in FE, HE and employment, might convince them that the term dyslexia is a useful one.





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Posted 18th July, 2013 by Sue Partridge

Could not retrieve telephone-number, Could not retrieve telephone-number,

I have been pondering the impact of music, musical training and memory on dyslexia recently, for three reasons.  One is that I recently toook a music exam (singing) myself, and although not dyslexic wanted to analyse what I needed to achieve this memory feat (I guess I was more interested in the impact of aging than dyslexia in my case).   Secondly I noticed a particular memory trait in some members of the choir I sing in preparing for a recent concert.  And finally I completed a dyslexia assessment this month for a young person who has amazing musical talents.

Let’s take the dyslexia assessment first.  Having learned  to play musical instruments from an early age, this person had undergone the regular discipline of practice and listening and improvising to attain a very high standard of manual dexterity, a musical ear and the ability to memorise music.  How would this fit in with dyslexia as a phonological processing difficulty, possible aspects of motor integration needed for writing and spelling and working memory for facets of language acuisition and study?

In the case of this young person (and indeed a professional musician I assessed a couple of years ago) many of the features of dyslexia were masked by by the very high level skills they had achieved along the way. I am convinced that musical ability and practice conveys a big advantage when it comes to studying other subjects. There were anomalies, however, to do with being better at sight reading than playing from memory, having to work harder than other people at some aspects of memory training and occasional lapses in an otherwise outstanding educational career.

Sight reading music is an amazing gift (one that I do not possess to any  great degree).  Some people only have to look at a page of music to be able to hear how it goes and sing (or play) along.  When I approach music I need a number of other “hooks” to help me along. I need reminders (which I attach as postit notes on my score) linking the style of the music with tricky tempo changes and words.  I am not alone in this in my choir.  In our recent repertoire which had several linked pieces our conductor was grumpy in rehearsal when we couldn’t start a new movement just from a chord and a beat of his baton.  I needed to hear more to recall what it was going to be like before I warmed up to the task.

When it came to the singing exam and faced with singing five songs from memory I was fine with the melody but was worried I would lose track of the lyrics, which sometimes had subtle switches between verses.  Also I was singing in English, French and Russian (yes, my choice!).  Over the year of preparation I used various memory techniques…

  • alphabetical  order (“and fear, and grief and pain…” Dowland),
  • word painting (hearing what the pattern of the notes said about the words),
  • narrative with visuals – designing a story board of images telling the story of my French song (Faure)
  • acting technique (thanks to my teacher for this great suggestion) where you work out a verb that conveys the feeling behind each line (of a Gershwin song) and convey that in your face as you sing,
  • and of course good old repetition and testing.

My dyslexic student has good memory techniques when it comes to music, but may need help in applyng some of this when studying at university.

And yes, since you ask, I passed my Grade 8 singing  exam, the first music I exam I had taken since a teenager many, many years ago!



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Posted 24th March, 2013 by Alison Earey

Could not retrieve telephone-number, Could not retrieve telephone-number,

This book was revolutionary in helping me to start to develop new ideas for supporting and assessing people with dyslexia. It talks about the advantages of having dyslexia (as per the title), something that we ignore far too much.

This book was recommended to me firstly by a student who has dyslexia and then by a colleague. I recommend it to you if you have dyslexia, or support or assess people for dyslexia.

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Posted 11th February, 2011 by Jocelyn Gronow

Could not retrieve telephone-number, Could not retrieve telephone-number,

Book Review

For learners, parents and educational professionals

Improving Working Memory

Tracy Packiam Alloway

ISBN 978-1-84920-748-5

111 pages

Working Memory- Our brain’s Post-it note: this, the title for Chapter 1, so clearly encapsulates the meaning of working memory. From this, ‘light bulb’ moment, the structure of the book continues to illuminate the reader’s way through the chapters. Each chapter has subtitles throughout, a summary of numbered points and a list of further reading at the end.  Writing is visually punctuated with ‘Try It’ boxes, an opportunity to have hands-on understanding of the material; ‘Science Flash’ boxes, giving a snapshot of related current research; ‘Current debate’ boxes, which discuss relevant controversial issues; diagrams and data presented in visual form. Additionally, stories shared by teachers and parents with the author have been added to describe the challenges that learners face and inspire readers.

It is hard to put down this fascinating book which begins by exploring what working memory is, why it is important and how it relates to academic success. We are reminded of the many studies that demonstrate that working memory is a more reliable predictor of academic achievement than IQ, as a working memory test measures our potential to learn.

Chapter 2- Diagnosing working memory: looks at ways to test working memory; detailing the benefits and drawbacks of available tests and signposting the way forward.

The following chapters then describe a range of learning differences that impact on the way that people learn; the relationship between each one and working memory. In short, how poor working memory affects people with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, ADHD and those on the Autistic Spectrum. It is disappointing that this range of differences is described as disorders but that should not deter the reader from becoming engaged with the findings.

The final chapter outlines a range of strategies to encourage students of all ages to become more independent in their learning. It also discusses whether it is possible to train the brain, improve working memory and improve learning outcomes.

The book is the culmination of many years of research undertaken by Tracy Packham Alloway, in conjunction with others, regarding working memory and related issues.  Professionals will find much that they recognise as well as new information; it is always reassuring to see ones hunches proved and ideas progressed.

A copy can be purchased on the internet for a little over £15.00, which makes this book easy to obtain by parents, learners and educational professionals.

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