Research Journal

APJDD Vol 10 No 1 (Jan 2023)

1. Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment – Angela Fawcett

It is a very great pleasure to publish this issue of the Asia Pacific Journal of Developmental Differences, published by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore Limited (das), which is now in its 10th year of publication.  This is a milestone for any journal, and I am pleased to report that the journal goes from strength to strength, addressing major issues in research and practice. In common with most Dyslexia Associations, das have extended their reach to include a wider range of developmental differences, including a range of co-morbidities, and this is now clearly reflected in das revised mission, “Helping People with Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Differences Achieve”. We continue to be grateful for the support of our scientific board of reviewers and the international editorial board drawn from both academics and professionals, to reflect the aims of the journal. This enables us to resolve any outstanding issues satisfactorily and ensures we continue to maintain the highest international standards of ethics and professionalism.

2. Prevalence and Characteristics of Geometric difficulties

Prevalence and characteristics of geometric difficulties in elementary school children

Mirela Duranovic and Edna Didic

1. University of Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina


The current study aimed to analyze the prevalence and characteristics of geometric difficulties in elementary school children. In cooperation with teachers, tasks for assessing geometric knowledge, respecting the curriculum for a particular grade, have been developed. The level of geometric thinking was analyzed as an additional factor for classifying geometric difficulties and for better understanding problems that can lead to determining appropriate accommodations. The prevalence of geometric difficulties was 9.2% and students with geometric difficulties were on the first and second level of geometric thinking. Deficits in visual-spatial skills have been also analyzed as potential risk factor for developing geometric difficulties.

Keywords: geometry, geometric level, geometric difficulties, visual-spatial perception, visual working memory

3. Metacognitive-based approach of problem solving for algebraic word problems

The experiences of Primary 6 students with dyslexia using the metacognitive-based approach of problem-solving for algebraic word problems

Aishah Abdullah1*

1. Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Research has shown that students with dyslexia internationally can struggle with aspects of Mathematics.  Moreover, they specifically struggle with word problems, because of the mathematical language and multi-steps involved, and the demands on working memory. At the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (das), the Problem Sums for Upper Primary (PSUP) curriculum was developed in 2016 to meet the needs of our primary school students who were firm in their understanding of basic mathematical concepts but lacked the appropriate strategies to solve higher-order word problems. The PSUP curriculum utilizes a combination of Polya’s 4-step processes, the Concrete-Representational-Abstract approach (C-R-A) and the Try-Share-Learn-Apply approach as its primary teaching methodology. As the programme has yet to explore students’ meta-cognitive abilities in planning, monitoring, solving and checking word problems, this study aims to understand the thought processes of eight Primary six students in solving word problems involving Algebra concepts through interviews and a series of tests. To evaluate the effectiveness of the PSUP curriculum teaching approaches, the students’ pre-test, review test and post-test scores were compared. The results showed that 75% of the students improved from Pre-test to Review test and from Pre-test to Post test for all the algebraic concepts taught. Students were given a questionnaire at the beginning and end of the intervention period to assess their confidence level in solving Mathematics problem sums. Responses from the questionnaires also showed that the students were more confident in solving word problems as compared to at the start of the intervention.  Limitations and instructional implications will also be discussed.  Further research into the students’ meta-cognition before and after solving word problems would give a deeper insight into how their thought processes may have evolved, and how the use of our structured metacognitive-based approach has an impact on them.

Keywords: Mathematical language and multi-steps. Metacognitive-based approach. planning, monitoring, solving and checking word problems

4. Executive functioning, study skills, and dyslexia

Executive functioning, study skills, and dyslexia – Examining the effectiveness of an online programme for upper secondary and post-secondary students

Rosalyn Wee and Serena Abdullah

1. Dyslexia Association of Singapore


As students transition to higher education, study skills, executive functioning skills, and life skills, are an important set of transferable skills in enabling them to learn and work more efficiently under more demanding conditions, thereby maximising their potential as well as the full benefit of their time and effort. Therefore, as dyslexia is a life-long learning difference, there is a need for specialist support even as individuals at risk or diagnosed with dyslexia transits into post-secondary education or tertiary education. Certainly, with the acquisition and competence in essential study skills and techniques, these students may become self-directed, independent and responsible learners, which are invaluable traits and characteristics for any tertiary learner. More importantly, these skills provide a strong foundation for them to be able to reach their goals and aspirations not only in school but also in their future workplace. The English Language and Literacy Division (ELL) at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (das) developed the iStudySmart™ programme, which adopts an online learning approach that aims to empower students with learning differences in the areas of time management and prioritisation, planning and organisation, tertiary writing and presentation skills. The aims of iStudySmart™ were not only to bridge the gap in intervention and resources catered for students with learning challenges at the tertiary level but also to keep abreast with changing times, demands and expectations observed in the education sector. This paper evaluates the relevance and effectiveness of iStudySmart™ and also measures student self-confidence, motivation, and independence through the administration of pre- and post-questionnaires and a post-questionnaire or interview six months after. Further, qualitative data comprising testimonials from parents revealed high levels of satisfaction and recognition of the value of the online approach. Results from the post-questionnaire and interview six months after indicate that all aspects of the iStudySmart™ intervention were effective, with moderate and large effect sizes for planning and organisation, tertiary writing and presentation. On the other hand, time management and prioritisation strategies learnt through the programme would need more time and practice before students can apply these in their daily lives.

Keywords: higher education, dyslexia, specific learning difficulty, study skills, motivation, executing functioning skills, independence, self-confidence, e-learning, online learning, flipped classroom, asynchronous learning, synchronous learning

5. Examining the Applications of Educational Technologies in Teaching

Examining the Applications of Educational Technologies in Teaching and Learning Practices in a specialist intervention setting

Stephanie Ong, Nithyashree Murthy and Soofrina Binte Mubarak

1. Dyslexia Association of Singapore


The use of technology in the classroom nowadays is widespread and seen by both students and teachers internationally as almost essential. Research indicates that students, particularly today, prefer technology because they think it improves their learning. Their views also include how the use of digital tools appears to improve the effectiveness of their learning. The question arises, do educators on the other hand complement the teaching with sufficient educational technologies? This study will look into two goals which have implications for the use of technology across the world, focusing on implementation in Singapore to provide a case study of improved effectiveness. Firstly, it will start by examining how educational therapists at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore Limited have adopted Educational Technology (EduTech) in their specialist intervention classes. Secondly, it will examine the usefulness of EduTech in teaching and learning. The Technology Adoption Paradigm (TAM), the most popular and scientifically supported model for technology acceptance, serves as the foundation for this research study’s investigation of these goals. The findings have implications internationally for educational organisations incorporating technology into their teaching and learning.

Keywords: Educational technology, Online teaching, COVID-19, Teachers’ attitudes, Self-efficacy, Special education, Specialist intervention, Dyslexia, Remote teaching

6. Identifying Training Needs in Using Educational Technology

Identifying Training Needs in Using Educational Technology: a New Integrated Model

Soofrina Binte Mubarak

1.  Dyslexia Association of Singapore


The coronavirus global epidemic compelled over 190 countries to cancel traditional face-to-face classes and transition to remote learning – suddenly, unexpectedly, and unevenly (UNESCO, 2021). According to UNESCO (2021), at the height of the crisis, more than 85% of students around the world were absent from regular school, and by October 2020, 108 nations reported missing an average of forty-seven days of face-to-face instruction – or approximately a quarter of the academic year. Digital technologies have the potential to revolutionize education worldwide if used properly in the classroom. The COVID-19 pandemic has had some positive effects, such as accelerating the adoption of digital technologies in schools. The extensive use of remote learning opened the door to further digitalization, including the fusing of digital tools with conventional teaching techniques. But bringing traditional pedagogies or approaches online is only one aspect of effective digital learning. The pandemic demonstrated how digital tools were thrown into remote learning carelessly and unevenly. Digital solutions frequently rested on the creativity of a single teacher or the commitment of a single school administrator. Teachers required assistance and instruction on how to use digital technologies effectively if they are to do so. Training for an educational culture that uses digital technologies to improve its operations has become more and more crucial. This paper looks at three prominent training needs analysis models before formulating a new integrated model in the second part. The function of analyzing training needs is one that is acknowledged as being a crucial element of all effective training programmes. In its simplest form, requirements assessment is the act of determining “what is” and “what should be” and proposing solutions to close the gaps between them. This method produces information that can be used to help with planning, decision-making, and problem-solving initiatives. This information can be used internationally to investigate educators’ current use of technology and desired level of use of technology, and then propose training and non-training solutions to bridge the identified gaps.

Keywords: Educational Technology, training, digital technologies, educational therapists

7. The impact of bilingualism on dyslexia: a comparative study

The impact of bilingualism on dyslexia: a comparative study of Welsh and English University students using Wordchains.

Margaret Meehan and Angela J. Fawcett

1. Swansea University, UK


In this article, 2 studies are presented comparing English and bilingual Welsh speaking university students’, including those who experience dyslexia on their speed and accuracy of segmenting Wordchains.  In the pilot study, a Welsh translation of the standardised assessment, Wordchains, was evaluated with a group of students. The results indicated that this version was more difficult than the English version because of the longer length of the Welsh words. For the main study, the stimulus was adjusted for length and a comparison made of the performance on Welsh and English forms. The results indicated that the Welsh test was more difficult overall with the poorest performance from Welsh speaking dyslexics followed by Welsh speaking controls than the English test equivalent. The results have implications for countries across the world where bilingualism is common.

Keywords: Bilingualism, processing speed, dyslexia, Welsh, Higher Education

8. Long-term Management of Dyslexia

Long-term Management of Dyslexia: A Case Report of Social Emotional Problems in Dyslexia

Rima Natasha Hartanto, Dyah Ayu Palupi, Ersita Sari and Ayu Yowanda

1  Dyslexia Association of Indonesia


Dyslexia may often be confused with other conditions, especially in people with dyslexia with behavioural complaints and social language disorders. Those who have difficulty interacting are often diagnosed with autism or other autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s. In this case report the journey is described of a dyslexic boy, whose social language disorder was difficult to change over time. Louis (not his real name) was first diagnosed as dyslexic at the age of 9 years and 11 months. There followed various comprehensive interventions related to aspects of spoken language, written language, social language, and most importantly behavioural and social emotions, described in this case study. The importance of comprehensive diagnoses is emphasized, in order to identify all aspects of the difficulties that may be encountered by each individual child.

Keywords: Dyslexia, behaviour, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger’s Syndrome, Social Language Disorder, Assessment, Diagnosis