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Computerized orthographic training of severely reading disabled children in Croatia and Sweden

Conference contribution
Authors Tomas Tjus
Erland Hjelmquist
Gordana Kerestes
Linda Fälth
Irma Brkovic
Idor Svensson
Published in 18th European Conference on Developmental Psychology. Utrecht, Netherlands: August 29 - September 1
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Dyslexia, intervention, computerised
Subject categories Applied Psychology


Reading disabilities in children may lead to avoidance of text in general and have a substantial negative impact when trying to achieve higher levels of education. Therefore, early identification of reading difficulties and intensive and systematic interventions are crucial. The phonological deficit hypothesis for explaining reading problems has been supported by empirical evidence and phonology training has been common. However, orthographic training also can have a positive effect in languages where phonology training has been the standard. The aim of the present study was to implement orthographic training for Swedish (n = 47) and Croatian (n = 55) children in grade 2 and 3 with severe reading difficulties, performing < 20th percentile on tests covering decoding, spelling and comprehension. Swedish has a relatively deep orthography whereas Croatian has a shallow orthography with a very high phoneme-grapheme correspondence. A computer program designed for orthographic training was used where the child can construct sentences, listen to them by recorded speech and see them animated. Participants received about 12 hours of training during 6 weeks. A quasi-experimental design was used with comparison of gain/week between baseline, training and follow-up periods. Swedish children showed a significant increase in gain/week for spelling, decoding and comprehension during intervention compared to baseline and follow-up. In contrast, Croatian children did not show higher gain/week during intervention compared to baseline, while gain/week during both baseline and intervention was significantly higher compared to follow-up. We conclude that intervention was successful for Swedish children but only partly for the Croatian children. Their increase observed already at baseline may be related to positive expectations among teachers, parents and children by participating in the research project with increased motivation and focus on reading. Teachers/parents maybe invested an extra instruction effort during the baseline period despite the instruction to perform regular reading training.

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