Dyslexic people have been misunderstood in the past by the people who are involved in their training and correction. Some of them have been labelled as thick or even people who cannot spell. However, research has proved that dyslexia is not a representation of one’s intelligence.
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The condition has a number of causes though the presentation is different in individuals with varying levels of inability to read.
This essay reviews the literature on dyslexic students, the available methods for their support in learning, and the factors determining the success of these methods in the learning environment.
Literature search and review
Brief topic outline
The subject of information studies is broad. There are a number of possible studies in each of the fields. The topic for this study is ‘Dyslexic Students: Success Factors for Support in a Learning Environment.’ The paper presents a search of literature with information on the same.
During the search, some of the related findings on the topic are the diagnosis of the condition, the causes, and the prognosis of this condition. However, the interest of the search is on the success factors in the learning environment when correcting the condition.
Some of the topics that still need review in this area include the pathological signs in the brains of dyslexic students and the effects of social factors on the condition. Therefore, the research questions include:
- What are the types of learning environments for dyslexic students?
- What factors support learning in this environment?
Literature search strategy
The search strategy used a combination of methods. Electronic databases were preferred for the search. The key words were dyslexia, dyslexic students, learning support, and learning environments. The search was conducted in more than one database followed by analysis of the results.
The references of the results were then searched with the relevant ones being analysed for the study. The search for relevant books was through the COPAC library catalogue, which yielded useful publications for the study. A systematic approach was used in the search.
A targeted approach was later adopted for use to eliminate the less useful publications. The bibliographic tools used to carry out the search included the library catalogues and the databases. Since knowledge is constantly accumulating on the subject under study with research findings being published regularly, a limitation in the search was made.
The search, therefore, was limited to the research publications made since the year 2000. They were deemed to be current and useful to the study. For the purpose of ease in the compilation of the search results and a detailed analysis of the literature, only literature published in the English language was considered for review.
From the original search, a number of results were obtained. These were then scrutinised followed by a final list of 20 references, which were then used for the study.
The results include Bell, J 2010, Doing your research project : a guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science, Blaxter, L, Hughes, C & Tight, M 2010a, How to research, Burden, R, & Burdett, J 2005, ‘Factors associated with successful learning in pupils with dyslexia: a motivational analysis, Carroll & Iles, An assessment of anxiety levels in dyslexic students in higher education, Clough & Nutbrown, A student’s guide to methodology : justifying enquiry.
Others are Davis, R 1997, The Gift of dyslexia: why some of the brightest people can’t read and how they can learn, Doering, An unusual balance of skills’: dyslexia in higher education, Fred Murphy On being dyslexic: Student radiographers’ perspectives Radiography, Gold, Rotella, Chenoweth, and Zaleski, Overcoming dyslexia (Book)’, Hatcher, Snowling, and Griffiths, Cognitive assessment of dyslexic students in higher education, Kirby, Sugden, Beveridge, Edwards, and Edwards, Dyslexia and developmental co-ordination disorder in further and higher education—similarities and differences.
Does the ‘Label’ influence the support given?, Ling and van Schaik’s, The influence of font type and line length on visual search and information retrieval in web pages. However, these are some of the results from the search with the rest being included in the reference list.
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The first of the works that was of relevance to the study was Fred Murphy’s work published in the radiography journal in the 2011 issue (Murphy 2011, p. 134). The purpose of Murphy’s study was “to provide an insight into life as a dyslexic student radiographer, identify barriers and risks in clinical training, and develop recommendations for the support of students with dyslexia” (Murphy 2011, p. 134).
The justification of his study was the inadequacy of research into the experiences of student radiographers whose support was given only from the experience from other professions. He reported the absence of any study on the experiences of dyslexic radiography students (Murphy 2011, p. 135).
The study involved comparing the abilities of dyslexic students in performing given tasks. This result was compared with the abilities of non-dyslexic radiography students.
The results of the study revealed that there are few significant differences in the performance of clinical tasks by both sets of students (Murphy 2011, p. 136: Carroll &Iles 2006, p.12: Perry 2003, p. 23). The ten dyslexic radiography students in the study reported difficulties and prejudices in their areas of practice.
The clinical environment was also reported not to have a detailed support structure for their condition (Murphy 2011, p. 136). The study also revealed that the students had to take responsibility for most of their learning, which resulted in the development of complex strategies to cope with the condition.
The study made a number of recommendations on the improvement of support structures for dyslexic students mainly for support of dyslexic students on clinical practice.
This study is relevant to the current study, as it features some of the problems experienced by dyslexic students. The recommendations are also important as they apply to the dyslexic students in most of the areas of study because they face similar problems.
The research methodology is adequate for the study though the sample size used was not large enough to yield very significant results. The results are however presented in a clear manner thus making interpretation easy.
The second study that was relevant to the current study was that by Robert Burden and Julia Burdett, whose work was “Factors Associated with Successful Learning in Pupils with Dyslexia: A Motivational Analysis” (Burden & Burdett 2005, p.100).
The study resulted from previous studies on the subject, which had established existing challenges for dyslexic students in their self-esteem (Burden & Burdett 2005, p.100). The challenge in self-esteem is said to impart negative consequences on self-development of dyslexic students.
Burden and Burdett set to challenge these findings (Burden & Burdett 2005, p.102). The study was based on interviews conducted by the researchers on 50 boys between the ages of 11 and 16 who were dyslexic and attending a special school (Burden & Burdett 2005, p.102).
The two issues they explored were the pupils’ “attitudes to learning and their sense of personal identity” (Burden & Burdett 2005, p.102). They found a positive appraisal in most of the pupils they interviewed. They related this result to successful learning outcomes for the dyslexic pupils (Burden & Burdett 2005, p.103).
Their findings also included low levels of depression among the students with low levels of what they referred to as learned helplessness (Burden & Burdett 2005, p.104). They singled this quality of the learning process in these children as an important one in their learning process.
In the methodology, the number of students used indicates a significant sample for conclusion making, which again makes generalisation of the results easy. The study was also conducted in a systematic manner with the findings reported in an easy way.
The use of statistical inference is also evident in the study thus making the findings of the study valid. The findings of this study are important to the current study, as they form a relationship between attitude and learning in the dyslexic students.
Since the current study investigates success factors in the learning of dyslexic students, the factors discussed in the study by Burden and Burdett are important in conclusion making and inferences.
The third study of significance is a pilot study by MacFarlane et al. The study is on “The effect of dyslexia on information retrieval” (MacFarlane et al. 2010, p.307). This study is the first of its kind. The results are therefore significant to the current study.
The aim of the research was to fill the knowledge gap on the interaction of dyslexic people with information retrieval systems. A specific focus was made on their information seeking behaviour (MacFarlane et al 2010, p.307). The study utilised non-dyslexic people who were used as control for those under investigation.
The methodology included the use of a standard Okapi interface and two standard TREC topics, which were used to assess the information searching behaviour of the participants (MacFarlane et al 2010, p.312).
The study demonstrated the differences between information seeking behaviours of dyslexic people with those of the controls using log data being recorded (MacFarlane et al 2010, p.323).
From the study, “Session data indicated that there may be an important difference between the number of iterations used in a search between the user groups, as there may be little effect from the topic on this variable” (MacFarlane et al 2010, p.324).
This inference is a relevant finding in the study of the problems encountered by dyslexic students. It is applicable in making conclusions in the study currently being undertaken.
The authors found a knowledge gap in knowledge seeking behaviours of the dyslexics. They had no template on which to compare and use to critique their findings. There is therefore a need to conduct more research in this field. However, the layout and presentation of the results are systematic.
The conclusion made tallies with the results they found. As for the methodology, the sample size was adequate enough. The methods used in data collection were relatively accurate. The use of statistical inference in the research is plausible, as it makes it an important study for the topic being discussed.
The last of the important studies gotten from the literature review is the work of Taylor, Duffy, and Hughes (2007, p. 26), which investigated “The Use of Animation in Higher Education Teaching to Support Students with Dyslexia.” The study was carried out in the higher education setting of the United Kingdom.
The use of animated materials to support the learning of students with dyslexia was studied. The study design involved the use of thirteen dyslexic undergraduate computing students. The use of animation in their learning was investigated and compared with ordinary teaching methods (Taylor, Duffy & Hughes 2007, p. 27).
The results of the learning were then evaluated and inferences made accordingly (Taylor, Duffy & Hughes 2007, p. 29). A control group of non-dyslexic students was utilised for the study.
From the findings, “it appeared that appropriate animated learning materials were perceived as being more useful than equivalent static learning materials by both the students with dyslexia and the control group of non-dyslexic students” (Taylor, Duffy & Hughes 2007, p. 27).
The non-dyslexic students preferred the animated methods of learning as compared to the dyslexic students under study. The conclusion from the study was therefore that animated learning was of less significance in the learning of the dyslexic and the non-dyslexic students(Taylor, Duffy & Hughes 2007, p. 29). The sample size used to make the conclusion was small.
This drawback would reduce the accuracy of the findings and the reported conclusions. The use of statistical analysis is also not apparent in the study. The methodology appears to be limited in the ability to draw important conclusions.
On the other hand, the reporting and use of statistical representation in the work is appropriate, and so is the analysis of the results. The work is important to the study being investigated, as it focuses on the dyslexic learning behaviours and one of the methods that may be used to aid learning for these students.
As indicated above, the topic for the study is, ‘Dyslexic Students: Success Factors for Support in a Learning Environment.’ Dyslexia has been described as a medical mystery with a number of researches done on the causes and possible solutions (Kirby, Sugden, Beveridge, Edwards & Edwards 2008, p. 19).
The modern education system has many dyslexic students. Teachers and instructors in institutions of higher learning are faced with the difficulty of effectively imparting knowledge to these students (Hatcher, Snowling & Griffiths 2002, p. 76). A number of methods have also been suggested on how to support the train of the dyslexics.
The methods have also been applied with varying results. Dyslexia has been classified and defined as a language learning disorder characterised by spelling, reading, and writing deficits (Gold, Rotella, Chenoweth & Zaleski, 2003, p.63).
A number of causes for the conditions have been suggested with some suggesting that dyslexics see words backward. However, some scientific evidence shows that the students have a problem in the sight for words and producing the sounds made by these words (Doering 2003, p. 16).
The conventional methods of learning are not appropriate for the dyslexics. Most of the instructors find it hard when using them to teach the dyslexics. With the available methods of teaching dyslexics available, this research focuses on the success factors in the learning environment of dyslexics.
The students have to memorise each new word they come across. They hope to remember them in the next session (Ling & van Schaik 2006, P. 39: Neurodiversity 2010, p.98).
The learning environment for dyslexic students is different from that of conventional students. Several factors determine the success of teaching them in this environment (Madriaga 2007, p. 28). These factors form the basis of the study.
Aims and objectives
The main aim of the study is to investigate the success factors for support in a learning environment for dyslexic students. The study will therefore target to determine the factors affecting the success of learning for dyslexic students.
Over the past, studies have been done on the best methods to teach dyslexic students with suggestions being made on the appropriate changes to be made (Davis 1997, p. 16).
Follow-up studies have however shown mixed results while using the study methods proposed. This study therefore establishes the success of the methods in place to augment teaching for dyslexic students.
Another aim of the study is to investigate the relationship between the learning environment and the learning outcomes for dyslexic students. As indicated above, various studies have found differing results on the effects of learning environments for dyslexic students (Reid & Kirk 2001, p.29).
The study will therefore utilise the results from some of the studies in a bid to compare them with those from the data collected on learning environments and learning outcomes for dyslexic students.
Another aim of the study is to investigate the number of students benefiting from special methods for teaching dyslexics. In the past, the number of institutions offering special methods to teach dyslexics has been declining with few of the dyslexics being discovered (Reid & Kirk 2001, p.29).
The study therefore investigates the institutions and methods in place to train dyslexics showing how effectively they are doing this.
The other objective of the study will be to find out the methods of diagnosing dyslexics in the institutions where the study will be conducted. Depending on the institutions, the methods used to diagnose special students vary, as it is also the case for dyslexic students.
The study will therefore aim to find out the measures in place to diagnose these students in the institutions. The other aim of the study will be to determine whether dyslexic students are provided with extra tutorials in these institutions.
Method of choice and pilot study
In conducting a research or a study on the topic, the method to be used is significant as it determines the accuracy of the results that will be used to make conclusions (Bell 2010, p.23). The strength of the conclusions will therefore depend on the type of methods used for the research (Bell 2010, p. 23).
A combination of methods has been found to be appropriate for making solid conclusions (Bell 2010, p. 23). The method of choice for the study will be the use of questionnaires for the department heads for the various institutions with dyslexic students.
The contents of the questionnaire include the details of the institutions to be sampled and the respondents. Some of the questions to be addressed include whether the institution has any dyslexic students.
The questionnaire will also elicit for the opinions of the respondents of the on how to improve the measures in place for the improvement of learning resources for dyslexics in the library in their institutions.
The second method to be used for data collection will be the use of interviews. The use of interviews in research enables the researcher to get the opinions of the interviewees thus allowing more of the objectives of the study to be covered (Clough & Nutbrown 2007, p. 27).
The interview will cover the questions not addressed in the questionnaire to provide for the addition of more information that may be necessary for the study. The conducting of the pilot study will be done in one of the selected institutions, which will involve a relatively fewer number of respondents (Clough & Nutbrown 2007, p. 27).
The pilot study will be used to test the methods used in the actual study in a bid to establish the likely problems in carrying out the study.
Sources of data
The sources of data for this study are mainly derived from previous studies. They will be used to compare the results from the study. The use of peer reviewed journals and other professional works around the topic and objectives of the study will be made.
The sources will be analysed for any relevance to the study before inclusion. The main sources of data for the research will be the performance registers for the students under the study. In the institutions where the study will be conducted, the results of the examinations sat by the dyslexic students will be utilised as the sources of data.
The other sources of data for the research will be the records of the institutions with dyslexic students. These sources will be used to evaluate the number of students in the institutions with the condition.
As indicated above, the data will be used to make conclusions on the achievement of factors for success in the learning environment for dyslexics.
As a requirement, the strength of conclusions made by the research will be based on the statistical strength of the work, which will therefore be important to maintain (Clough & Nutbrown 2007, p. 27).
For the results of any research to be credible and generalisable to the wider public, the sample to be used must be representative of the population under study (Wolcott 2001, p.34). To achieve this goal, the sample size has to be large with a large number of participants to achieve the normal distribution of results (Wolcott 2001, p.34).
The sample size will therefore have to be larger than fifty to make the results of the study as accurate as possible. The sample to be used will also be obtained by the use of an appropriate inclusion and exclusion criteria. The use of the criteria also improves the quality of the findings for the research.
The methods used for analysis of data results for research purposes are equally as important as the methods used to achieve them (Wolcott 2001, p.34). The various methods of data analysis should be accurate enough to provide results that can be generalised for the population under study (Wolcott 2001, p.38).
These methods are however dependent on the type of data that is gotten from the study. Some of the most utilised methods of data analysis are the gated counts that are manually done on paper and the use of statistical packages (Wolcott 2001, p.36).
The gated method is tedious to use in analysis of multiple sets of data as it involves a number of processes (Wolcott 2001, p.37). It is however accurate to use especially for smaller sets of data. In terms of the speed used to analyse this method of data analysis, the time taken is relatively longer compared to the use of statistical packages (Wolcott 2001, p.34).
On the other hand, the use of statistical packages in the analysis of statistical data is gaining popularity due to the established efficiency (Wolcott 2001, p.34). It takes a shorter time in analysing data. They are therefore important where there are a large number of sets of data involved (Wolcott 2001, p.34).
For both of these methods, some errors may occur. The methods may therefore be combined for accuracy (Blaxter, Hughes & Tight 2010, p. 12: Nielsen 2001, p. 34). For research on the success of factors for support in the learning environment for dyslexic students, a combination of data analysis methods will be used to ensure accuracy in the final results.
The sample results will be analysed using the gated method, which will then be followed by analysis using an appropriate statistical package.
The synthesis of results is important in any research as it determines the quality of the research. For this particular research, the synthesis will mostly be in the terms of the groups used. After analysis of the results, they will then be synthesised according to the related findings.
Similar characteristics in the learning environments of dyslexics will be synthesised together to make a logical outcome. In the previous studies on dyslexics, the synthesis methods used were mainly applied to the results of the test performance (Reid & Kirk 2001, p.29). The same methods will be used in this proposal.
The project will need significant funding, which will be used to offset the charges in the project, as well as the costs of the various tools and staff utilised in the study. The first cost that will be incurred is in the materials used to develop the project.
They include stationery and printing charges. In producing the final draft of the proposal, a number of papers will need to be printed for review by the authorities responsible.
They will significantly contribute to the cost incurred. When the draft is complete, the instruments for the pilot study and the actual study will then be prepared. They will also need significant funding (Wolcott 2001, p.34).
The study will be carried out by a number of people over a number of days. Analysis will also involve a number of people based on the size of the sample (Bell 2010, p. 21). The staff therefore required in the carrying out of the study will be a significant source of cost for the project and the research.
In getting to the field where the data will be collected, the staff and the people responsible for the study will need to travel. This travelling will take place throughout the period of the study. The use of both private and public means of transport to these areas will therefore need a significant amount of money.
This need will contribute to the increase in the budget for the research. Other costs to be incurred in the research include the publishing of the results, the organisation of meetings to discuss the study, and the overhead costs.
As an estimate, the research will likely utilise a thousand dollars, which is an estimate that could increase or reduce based on the size of the research.
The findings of any study are only important if they are provided to the relevant authorities for action. They should also be made public to ensure change is effected based on the findings and the results from the research. For the research proposed above, the results are significant to the learning institutions, which have dyslexic students in their classes.
For them to fully utilise the results, a feedback will need to be planned. A report should be handed to the institutions where the study was conducted. The report should contain the methodology of the study, the results obtained from it, the recommendations, and other information from the study that may be relevant to the institutions.
When the report is provided to the institutions, a session could also be provided to the people concerned. This session should be in a PowerPoint presentation. It should be in simple language for them to understand. It should also be informative.
Another way of disseminating the results would be the use of professional and peer reviewed journals (Bell 2010, p. 23). These would then publish the results to be available for the scholars and general public.
The relevant authorities could also be provided with a copy of the final report to make any changes and or gauge their performance based on the findings (Bell 2010, p. 23).
The results could also be published in newspapers and magazines offering relevant information to the population concerned. Other methods of dissemination of the results include public lectures and tutorials. For the method chosen to disseminate the results, the target should be to reach the people that will have the most use of them.
In conclusion, the research involves finding out the factors of success in the learning environments of dyslexics. The topic was chosen due to the established problem in the learning of dyslexics especially when conventional methods of teaching are employed.
The number of dyslexics in the institutions of higher learning is also reported to be increasing. This revelation justifies the need for the research. The study aims to achieve the mentioned objectives with the most important being to determine the success factors in the learning environment for dyslexics.
A combination of methods has been suggested for the study with the use of questionnaires and interviews being considered. The questions will be addressed to the teaching authorities in the institutions established.
The results will then be compiled. A pilot study will also be conducted to establish the problems likely to arise in a bid to plan for the research.
The sources of data will be the records from the institutions especially the tests given to these students. The analysis of the data will be done by the use of a combination of methods, which will be simple gated counts and the use of statistical packages.
In the project management, the main cause of concern is the cost of carrying it out. Some of the costs that will be incurred include the staffing, travelling to the institutions, and making of the test instruments. An estimate of this cost has been given.
The findings will then be disseminated in a number of ways with the feedback being made to the authorities responsible. A presentation will be made followed by a copy of the report that will be handed to the institutions.
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