Research Journal

APJDD Vol 6 No 1 (Jan 2019)

1. Editorial Comment

Angela J. Fawcett, Editor-in-Chief

2. Orthographic Advantage Theory: National advantage and disadvantage due to orthographic differences

Bruce Allen Knight1*,Susan A. Galletly1, Pamela S Gargett2

  1. Central Queensland University
  2. Queensland Department of Education, Training & Employment


Considerable research reports nations differ in orthographic complexity (regularity and consistency of spelling patterns used); that this impacts ease and speed of reading and writing development; and that, in contrast to the world’s many regular-orthography nations, English word-reading and word-writing development is extremely slow, with difficulties more frequent and severe (Knight, Galletly & Gargett, 2017; Seymour, Aro, & Erskine, 2003; Share, 2008). Orthographic Advantage Theory proposes that, according to their level of orthographic complexity, nations experience disadvantage and potential advantage in multiple areas of education and national functioning. Building from current cross-linguistic theories and research on cross-linguistic differences, it proposes six dimensions of orthographic advantage and disadvantage, namely: ease of early literacy development; simplified school instruction and learning across primary and secondary school; ease of improving education; impacts of reduced workplace illiteracy; increased adult life advantage; and generational advantage through confidently literate parents being able to effectively support their children’s literacy development. This article details Orthographic Advantage Theory, building from review of research findings that show the major differences in reading development and outcomes in regular-orthography and Anglophone nations. The theory is offered as a tool for educators and researchers towards optimising reading and literacy outcomes.

Keywords:          Orthographic Advantage Theory, reading development, writing development

3. Preventing teacher burnout and promoting job satisfaction and retention: work values in teachers of learners with dyslexia in relation to organisational initiatives.

Geetha Shantha Ram1*,Ashraf Samsudin1

  1. Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Research suggests that Special Educational Needs (SEN) teachers are more significantly impacted by teacher burnout than other teachers, which inherently affects teacher retention and the quality of the service eventually rendered in SEN schools and organisations. This article presents the findings of an exploratory study that sought to understand the alignment between the work values of the teachers of a special educational needs organisation supporting learners with dyslexia, the organisational policies and incentives implemented and their impact on job satisfaction and teacher burnout. The basis of the study is the notion that the particular combination of work values and the work environment guided by organisational values, impacts the wellbeing and continued employment of SEN teachers and an alignment between teachers’ work values and organisational Values encourages positive mental health through job satisfaction and therefore, a reduction in teacher burnout. To examine this, 111 Educational Therapists’ work values are surveyed through the use of the ONET Work Importance Profiler and the findings are discussed in relation to the organisational incentives and policies to investigate the consonance of these sets of Values. The interpretation of the results is then presented together with recommendations to organisations aiming to improve retention, job satisfaction and prevent teacher burnout through an improved alignment of Values

Keywords:          Values, Work Values, Teacher burnout, Theory of Work Adjustment, Job satisfaction, SEN teachers, SEN organisations

4. Children with learning difficulties and the move to Innovative Learning Environments

John Everatt1*,Jo Fletcher1

  1. University of Canterbury, New Zealand


This paper discusses the perceptions of 283 New Zealand primary school principals and teachers about flexible learning spaces (Innovative Learning Environments), and the changes in pedagogical practices and classroom environments that these lead to, particularly in regard to outcomes in reading, writing and mathematics. Statements were general to all learners, but focused on struggling learners (students with learning difficulties), and targeted primary school educators given the importance of early learning for acquiring literacy and mathematics. An online questionnaire was distributed to both teachers and principals given their different influences on learning environments, management and teaching practices/interactions. Results indicated generally positive views of flexible learning spaces, though this varied with experience/professional development. Positive views were also less evident for questions related to low progress learners, suggesting that although New Zealand educators can see the benefits of flexible learning spaces, they seem more cautious about the value for those with learning problems.

Keywords:          Innovative Learning Environments; New Zealand primary school; reading, writing and mathematics; struggling learners / learning difficulties; questionnaire responses; experience/professional development.

5. Barriers undermining the implementation of the students' mental health promotion process in schools: teachers' perceptions.

Dalal Alradaan1*,Suad Albesher1and Abdullah Alosaimi1

  1. College of Basic Education \ Educational Psychology Department – Kuwait


This study investigates teachers’ perceptions about contextual barriers that could affect their understanding of mental health issues; thus, hinder their role in promoting students’ mental health in the context of Kuwaiti secondary schools. The study also attempted to explore teachers’ perceptions regarding the changes required to put students’ mental health promotion processes into practice in the Kuwaiti educational context. A mixed-methodological research approach including two stages was adopted: A systematic survey conducted on 500 Kuwaiti secondary school teachers, and semi-structured interviews conducted on 30 teachers were chosen to address this purpose. Findings from the study showed that teachers’ perceptions were markedly affected within the socio-cultural and religious context in the State of Kuwait. A variety of personal, interpersonal, socio-cultural and structural-organisational barriers were reported by teachers that could undermine and impact in terms of moving towards the implementation of promoting students’ mental health.

Keywords:          Mental health, Perceptions, Barriers, Socio-cultural context.

6. The construction and evaluation of an English Exam Skills test for primary school students with dyslexia

Edmen Leong1*,Hu Guangwei2

  1. Dyslexia Association of Singapore
  2. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


In this article, the construction of a test previously used successfully with dyslexic children and low achievers to assess performance is formally evaluated. An English Exam Skills Programme (EESP) was developed and implemented in 2013 with the goal of helping primary school students with dyslexia develop their English Language skills and achieve in their school and national examinations. The design of the EESP adhered to the Orton Gillingham principles and aimed to ensure that the pedagogy would allow students to transfer skills and concepts learnt to their examination performance. Leong (2015) reports a study conducted to evaluate the progress of students in the EESP using a pre-test and a post-test design. Results from the study suggested that the EESP was effective in addressing the English Language development and examination needs of primary school learners with dyslexia. The study however was based on tests that were designed by the curriculum developers of the EESP and were not subjected to a full validation process. To accurately establish the effectiveness of the EESP, it is also important to ensure that the testing procedures used are optimally reliable and valid. In order to achieve this goal, a new English Exam Skills test for primary students enrolled in the EESP has been developed and validated, following McNamara’s (2000) “testing cycle” of the design stage, the construction stage, the try-out stage, and the operational stage. Results obtained from the trialling and validation of the test, including item and whole test analyses, were used to refine and finalize the test. Test takers’ performances on this test (both the original and revised versions) were compared with their performances on a test conducted in mainstream primary schools. Substantial correlations constituted evidence of convergent validity. The analyses not only helped to establish the construct validity of the newly developed test but made it possible to predict EESP students’ performance on their school and national examinations. In addition, such analyses helped to gauge the effectiveness of the EESP curriculum and the English Language development of dyslexic learners in primary schools.

Keywords:          Dyslexia, English Exam Skills, Language testing and assessment, Test validation, Test design

7. Early Markers of Executive Functions and Their Relation to Dyslexia: Cross Patterns and the Level of Initial Activation

Piero Crispiani1*,Mary Mountstephen2,Eleonora Palmieri3

  1. Macerata University – Italy
  2. University of Reading, United Kingdom
  3. Psychological and Pedagogical Victor Center, Italy


This article focuses on the importance of executive function and motor control in dyslexia in relation to school readiness in the early years. A functional and a coordinated system of cross pattern communication in the brain is necessary for many everyday actions, for example walking and riding a bike. This is especially true for many higher order functions, relating to school performance, and academic skills such as reading, writing and maths. For this reason, cross patterns are important expressions of effective functioning and the neurophysiological interactions between a range of brain regions for overall inter-hemispheric exchange within the developing brain. Reading is highly dependent on motor planning control, demanding greater efficiency of the cross system, because reading is driven by kinetic organization. This is based on the prompt activation (incipit) of important early markers of executive function which are critical for reading, such as planning direction from left to right, visual tracking, cognitive control, self-regulation, organization in space and time, inhibitory processes and monitoring a state of alertness. In contrast, when planning is dysfunctional, disorganized, discontinuous and ineffective during a complex cognitive task such as reading, it leads to a disorganized performance that extends well beyond the difficulties in reading and writing identified as dyslexia. In fact, more and more frequently, the phenomenon has been associated with a disorder of executive functions relating to all wider behaviours.

In our article, the level of this initial activation and execution assumes a central importance in understanding the variability in executive functioning between dyslexic and non-dyslexic students. This reflects executive consistency (fluidity), especially in reading performance, where the dyslexic tends to perform either too slowly or too rapidly. Difficulties in executive function, particularly in neural circuits which depend on effective exchange between the hemispheres, form the basis for our Cognitive Motor Training, utilising cross pattern exercises as part of a larger research programme. The Crispiani Method has undertaken a dynamic approach to training in promoting cognitive enhancement.

Keywords:          Cognitive Processing, Self-Regulation, Executive Functions, Dyslexia, Cross Patterns

8. An evaluation of the effectiveness of using drama as a tool to build social-emotional development of children with dyslexia in Singapore.

Muzdalifah Hamzah1*

  1. Dyslexia Association of Singapore


Literacy is not the only struggle that children with dyslexia face every day. For many years, researchers have reported that children with dyslexia have poorer levels of social-emotional development, due to personal experiences with failures, perceptions of their literacy abilities and failing to receive appropriate emotional support from adults around them. This study explores the efficacy of a speech and drama programme in developing the social-emotional literacy of children with dyslexia. The participants were students aged 7-11years old, enrolled in the speech and drama programme in Dyslexia Association of Singapore for the whole year of 2016. The Southampton Emotional Literacy Scales (SELS) for the appropriate age group was used for this study. Pre and Post programme questionnaires were collected from students, parents and drama teachers. Semi- structured interviews with parents were conducted in order to provide in-depth insight into the research. The results are discussed and suggestions provided with recommendations for future research. Through this study and the data presented, it is hoped to encourage teachers, educators, education policy makers and parents to see that there is more at stake in dyslexia than just acquiring literacy (reading, spelling and writing) skills and achieving good grades. There is also a need to develop our children’s social-emotional literacy so that they can adapt and be ready to meet the current demands of society.

Keywords:          Drama, dyslexia, social-emotional literacy