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