Practitioners’ perceptions of dyslexia and approaches towards teaching learners with dyslexia in...
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- 1.By Dr. Gordon O. Ade-Ojo Dept of PLD Avery Hill Campus University of Greenwich UK
2. Coverage of presentation
- Background/ Introduction and Rationale
- The present study
- Research Process: Data collection and analysis methods, sample group
- Research findings
- Evidence that there is an over-representation of learners with dyslexia in literacy classes.
- Possible reason: An emphasis on the inability to engage with reading in the perception and definition of literacy:
- difficulties with written language whatever level of competence they achieve (DFEE 2000: 1),
- marked and persistent problems at the word level (Piotrowski and Reason 2000: 51)
- difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling (Rose 2009:10),
- Congenital word blindness (Snowling 1996) and a problem with reading (Davies 2009:1).
- Represents a deficit model of dyslexia which converges with the deficit model of literacy
- So, how do teachers of literacy respond to learners with dyslexia? Defict/disease model?
4. The present study
- Scepticism to the deficit model of dyslexia in general, same as literacy: e.g Kerr (1999 and 2009)
- Dyslexia is nothing if not convenient; it blames the victim, which is such a comfort to everyone else. If only because of the highly particular political convenience of the syndrome presently sweeping us all along, dyslexia surely demands our deep, even raucous scepticism (p285).
- Spurs the investigation intoliteracy teachers perception and response to learners with dyslexia
- It surveyed a group of professional literacy practitioners on an Additional Diploma in Teaching English literacy programme (The specialist qualification for teachers of literacy in the UK)
- to find out their perceptions of dyslexia,
- the approaches they employ in teaching these learners,
- the effectiveness of these teaching approaches,
- the extent to which they felt that they had facilitated learning in this group of learners
5. Sample group
- The sample group:eighteen (18) professional literacy teachers,
- all had a minimum of 5 years experience of teaching literacy and were all active teachers with limited management responsibilities. This meant that their perceptions were purely from the viewpoint of practitioner teachers
- all had experience of having many learners with dyslexia in their classes.
- all qualified teachers who had held a PGCE qualification for a minimum of 5 years
- , the group formed a convenient sample (Kerr 2009: 280), as they were all on the same programme which was taught by this researcher. Furthermore, the sample group was reasonably representative of literacy provision,
- 6 members of the group taught in mainstream further education basic skills department, 4 taught in prison education, 2 in adult community education centres, 2 taught with voluntary organisations, 2 in work-based learning settings, while the remaining 2 taught with private training providers.
- Although there was a form of uneven distribution in terms of gender with only 6 members of the group being males, this was considered representative of the gender distribution pattern in the FE sector where teachers are predominantly female (Cara, Litster, Swain, and Vorhaus 2008,Ade-Ojo 2009).
6. Data collection
- Data collection:
- a combination of survey questionnaire and focus group interview methods.
- The focus group interview was used as a supplement to the survey, as it provided the opportunity to further explore issues raised through responses to the questionnaire
- The questionnaire for this study was designed around three main foci namely: practitioner perceptions of dyslexia, approaches towards teaching and learning, effectiveness of tuition
- Following the administration of the questionnaire and a preliminary analysis of the findings, a focus group comprising all members of the sample group was convened
- specific questions around each questionnaire focus were asked. Such questions sought illustrations of, and clarifications on claims made in questionnaire responses
- In the focus group, the interaction was effectively among the participants rather than with the interviewer, thus leaving room for the views of the participants to emerge
7. Data Analysis
- data analysis employed in this research is a simple form of content analysis
- First, in addition to providing the opportunity for the researcher to discover, and describe the focus of individual, group, institutional, or social attention (Webber 1990, Stemler 2001:1), it also allowed inferences to be made using the inherent tool of conceptual analysis (CSU 1993-2009).
8. Findings: Perceptions of dyslexia and learners with dyslexia
- Findings from survey:
- 1. Learners with dyslexia are predominantly viewed with trepidation.
- 2. 89% (16) of respondents viewed learners with dyslexia as people with some form of problem which they need to solve.
- 3. All respondents used terms that relate to the concept of illness.
- 4. 78% (14) of respondents expressed a feeling of apprehension bothering on helplessness when planning to teach learners with dyslexia in their literacy classes.
- Findings from focus group
- 1 problems are similar but more complex than those of their literacy learners without dyslexia,
- perceived as having something wrong with their brains, learners with dyslexia were in their classes to be helped rather than to learn.,
- they were not confident about using approaches in teaching literacy to learners with dyslexia., specifically identified reduction in the volume of writing learners with dyslexia were expected to engage with., although they were all conversant with the theoretical discourse on alternative approaches to teaching learners with dyslexia, they were not sure how to implement these in practice.
9. Findings: Effectiveness of tuition provided to learners with
- 89% (16) of respondents felt that the tuition they provided to most of the learners with dyslexia had little long-term value
- All respondents agreed that the value gained by learners with dyslexia in their classes is less academic than personal.
- Focus group:
- 1. 44% (5) of respondents claimed that tuition for this category of learners is not effective as they find themselves continuously repeating the same lessons.
- 2.56% (10) claimed that they found little evidence of real progression amongst their learners with dyslexia.
- 3.33% (6) of participants stated that they found the celebrations of minimal achievements by their learners sometimes patronising
10. Findings: Possible alternatives
- 2. 94% (17) respondents agreed that their learners might benefit from both an alternative curriculum structure and pedagogy even though they have no idea how these might be constructed.
- Focus group:
- All respondents stated that while they would like to know about, and try other approaches towards teaching learners with dyslexia, they had no idea what these approaches might be, how they will work and how they might utilise them.
11. Discussion and conclusions
- 1. Dyslexia seen more as a disability than difficulty:
- These are people with serious problems in some part of their brains. There is little we can do about this but we can only try and help as much as we can (R3). Informed by governmental views:DFEE, and the legal organs of state have for sometime accepted dyslexia as a disability.
- This classification, potentially, has a profound impact on both learners with dyslexia and their teachers (see e.g. Kerr 1999, 2009, Whitehouse 1995).In the case of the learner, it produces some level of disconcertment, while for the literacy teachers; it elicits a state of helplessness.: That was another big shock, finding out you are disable (Kerr 2009:281).
- Practitioners perceptions of dyslexia, I argue, draw from the dominant discourses and definitions they generate.:Every one says it is a sickness in the brain. Even the books say so. You just dont know what to do and you try and help them as best as you can. I am not a doctor and to be honest, I dont know why they give us teachers the responsibility of curing maybe helping is better, these people (R6).
- This perception of dyslexia suggests what Kerr (2009:285) describes as a maladaptive attribution that emerges from a diagnosis of an innate irreversible, neurological handicap. It implies a kind of inevitability and echoes the metaphor of disease that is often attributed to literacy problems (Barton 1994)
- This echoes the notions of disempowerment on the part of the teachers (Kerr 2009), and learned helplessness (Kerr 1999 and 2009, Chan 1994 and Fang 1996) on the part of both teachers and learners:To be honest, you just dont know w