Dyslexia Guild Conference 2013 - Keynote Speaker Professor Vincent Connelly

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Professor Vincent Connelly, Oxford Brookes University
"Struggling to Write." The challenges faced by children with
language and literacy difficulties when composing text.

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Dyslexia Guild Conference 2013 - Keynote Speaker Professor Vincent Connelly

  1. 1. "Struggling to Write." The challenges faced by children with language and literacy difficulties when composing text. Vince Connelly Julie Dockrell Emma Sumner & Anna Barnett Kirsty Walter & Sarah Critten
  2. 2. National Performance Trends Percentage of children achieving at least Level 4 in National Assessments for Writing at KS2 Percentage of children achieving at least Level 4 in National Assessments for Reading at KS2
  3. 3. National Performance in Writing
  4. 4. Learning difficulties and writing •  Children with learning difficulties produce shorter, less interesting and poorly organized text at both the sentence and paragraph level (Connelly, Dockrell & Barnett, 2011; Hooper et al, 2002). •  Texts marred by inordinate numbers of spelling and grammatical errors (Puranik, Lombardino & Altmann, 2007; MacArthur and Graham,1987). •  Handwriting is slow and the texts poorly punctuated (Christensen, 2009; Graham and Weintraub, 1996).
  5. 5. Research on writing difficulties •  Significant minority of children struggle to acquire basic competence in text production •  Majority of children with writing difficulties are in mainstream classes •  Many different experiences/problems lead to the same difficulties •  Single behavioural outcome but different pathways •  Interventions based on single models not necessarily effective 5
  6. 6. Early Intervention Important 85% of children with Level 3+ at end of KS1 attain 5A-C GCSE Grades 20% of children with Level 2C at end of KS1 attain 5A-C GCSE Grades
  7. 7. Writing difficulties: Teacher knowledge and needs Considerable variation in the time teachers allocate to writing instruction (Cutler & Graham, 2008) 40% make few adaptations for struggling writers (Graham, Murphy et al., 2008) Teachers report being inadequately prepared to teach writing & feel less skilled (Turvey, 2007; DfE, 2012) Limited handwriting & spelling instruction (Stainthorp et al, 2001; Barnett et al, 2006) Molyneaux et al, (2013) Total number of letters written in a week in year 5 across 6 schools
  8. 8. •  Therefore requires understanding of the writing difficulties experienced •  Analysis of both product and process •  Understanding of problems should drive evidence based practice. •  Children with Dyslexia (Emma Sumner, Anna Barnett) •  Children with SLI (Julie Dockrell, Kirsty Walter, Sarah Critten) Research on writing difficulties
  9. 9. Children with Dyslexia •  Large literature showing early problems with reading and spelling (Hulme & Snowling, 2009) •  Reported difficulties with spelling and mixed evidence around handwriting (Connelly et al, 2011) •  Very little work on their composition skills (Berninger et al, 2008; Puranik et al, 2007) •  Interventions based around spelling, handwriting and motor skills (British Dyslexia Association, 2011; Rose, 2009)
  10. 10. Adults with Dyslexia •  Still struggle with writing (Connelly et al, 2006; Gregg et al 2007, Tops et al, 2013) •  Report problems with writing more important than problems with reading (Burden, 2005; Mortimore & Crozier, 2006) •  Adults with dyslexia produce more pauses overall and in particular more inter-word pauses than age-matched controls (Wengelin, 2007; Wengelin & Stromqvist, 2000). •  Individual differences in spelling highly persistent with correlations between spelling at ages 14 and 44 years of r = .91 (Maughan et al, 2009) • 
  11. 11. Spelling and Handwriting Skills •  Recognised as a key issue for pupils struggling with literacy (Rose, 2009) •  Pupils with poor handwriting and spelling seldom very rarely produce good quality compositions (Connelly, Dockrell & Barnett, 2011, Connelly et al, 2006, Dockrell et al, 2007, 2009). •  Problems with basic skills in writing (spelling & handwriting) remain a key predictor of compositional quality through adolescence and into adulthood (Berninger et al, 2002; Graham et al, 1997;Richardson & Wydell, 2009; Suddarth et al, 2012). •  Lack of fluency in transcription skills associated with avoidance of writing and lack of motivation (Berninger et al, 1991)
  12. 12. • Interaction of planning, translating, and reviewing. • Reviewing primarily of author’s representation. • Planning limited to idea retrieval • Limited interaction of planning and translating, with minimal reviewing. • Interaction of planning, translating, and reviewing. • Reviewing primarily of both author and text representation. Author Author Text Text Author Reader Knowledge- Transforming Knowledge- Crafting Knowledge- Telling 10 20Years of Practice WritingSkillTheoretical Approaches
  13. 13. Problem  analysis   and  goal  se0ng   Knowledge  telling   process   Problem   transla6on   Problem   transla6on   Mental  Representa6on   of  Assignment   content   knowledge   Discourse   knowledge   Knowledge transformation model adapted from Scardamalia & Bereiter (1987) Content   problem   space   Rhetorical   problem   space  
  14. 14. Simple developmental model of writing Modification of the simple view of writing in Berninger and Amtmann (2003).
  15. 15. Dyslexia Study •  Is the composition of children with dyslexia worse than you would expect given their spelling levels? •  Are children with dyslexia writing fewer words per minute than their peers in timed writing tasks? •  Are children with dyslexia able to physically execute handwriting at the same speed as their peers? Do they have a slower execution speed? •  Are they pausing frequently while writing? Are pauses linked to difficulty spelling?
  16. 16. Sample Measures Dyslexia Study Dyslexia  (n=31) Age  Match   (n=31) Spelling  match   (n=31) Age  in  years   9.44 9.41 6.63 Non-­‐Verbal  ability   (BAS  Matrices  Standard  Score)   102 103 108 Spelling  raw  score  (BAS)   8.1 25.1 9.3 Spelling  standard  Score  (BAS)   79 110 93 Reading  standard  score  (BAS)   81 113 101 Movement  ABC  Manual   Dexterity  Score   8.0 8.9 9.5 •  Sumner, Connelly & Barnett (2012) Reading and Writing
  17. 17. Composition Task Writing Task – Recorded on a digital writing tablet Wechsler Objective Language Dimensions (WOLD) - Prompt A: ‘design a place for you to live....describe how you want your ideal place to look’ School of Social Sciences and Law
  18. 18. Composition Measures Dyslexia Study Dyslexia   (n=31) Age  Match   (n=31) Spelling  match   (n=31) Time  taken  (out  of  15   mins) 8.89 (2.79) 11.32 (2.9) 6.58 (2.37) SA < D < CA Number  of  words   written 70.19 (35.8) 126.52 (48.7) 35.19 (20.3) SA < D < CA Quality  of  Composition   Rating   8.6 (2.2) 13.7 (3.2) 7.5 (1.6) (D = SA) > CA Number  of  Spelling   errors 15.39 (9.01) 21% 4.87 (4.1) 4% 12.56 (8.78) 35% SA > D > CA • D are writing less and for a shorter amount of time than Age match • D produce more misspellings than Age match Sumner, Connelly & Barnett (2012) Reading and Writing
  19. 19. Written vs Oral Vocabulary D (n = 31) M (SD) CA (n = 31) M (SD) SA (n = 31) M (SD) Words Written Verbal 70.19 (35.79) 144.42 (108.32) 126.52 (48.64) 122.52 (70.27) 35.19 (20.31) 64.35 (50.68) SA < D < CA SA < (D = CA) Lexical Diversity Written Verbal 4.93 (1.02) 5.57 (1.23) 6.44 (.96) 5.90 (3.01) 3.75 (.75) 4.45 (1.29) SA < D < CA SA < (D = CA)
  20. 20. Predictors of Written Lexical Diversity R 2 R 2 change F df p Dyslexic Spelling .42 .42 18.40 1, 25 < .001 Receptive vocabulary .47 .05 2.31 1, 24 ns Expressive vocabulary .51 .04 1.77 1, 23 ns CA group Verbal Lex Diversity .41 .40 20.26 1, 29 < .001 SA group Spelling ability .02 .02 .53 1, 29 ns Verbal Lex Diversity .13 .11 3.68 1, 28 .03
  21. 21. Chidren with Dyslexia •  Poor quality of compositions but no less than spelling matched group •  Many spelling errors •  Poorer written lexical diversity in contrast to oral lexical diversity and oral vocabulary •  Poor spelling predicts poorer written lexical diversity •  Lexical Diversity strong predictor of compositional quality
  22. 22. Temporal Measures Composition Task Dyslexia Study • No significant difference between the handwriting execution of D and CA • More pausing associated with misspelling in Dyslexia and SA match groups. Dyslexic Age-matched Spelling-matched Words per min 8.19 11.48 5.17 Execution speed (cm/s) 2.18 2.20 1.59 Of total time: Pause % 66% 55% 65% Writing % 34% 45% 35% Sumner, Connelly & Barnett (2012) Reading and Writing
  23. 23. Child with Dyslexia, 9 years, 2 months. Same Age, Same school, Child without Dyslexia
  24. 24. Child with Dyslexia, 9 years, 2 months. Same Age, Same school, Child without Dyslexia
  25. 25. Child with Dyslexia, 9 years, 2 months. Same Age, Same school, Child without Dyslexia
  26. 26. Pauses D  (n=31) CA  (n=31) SA  (n=31) Spelling  error  pause  time 41% 8% 56% CA < D < SA Mispelling Latency 4.3 secs 1.65 secs 4.65 secs CA < (D = SA) Note.  Using  a  2  second  pause  threshold.     spelling  error  pause  time  =  the  %  of  the  overall  pause  time  spent  around  misspellings.   Misspelling  latency  =  average  pause  before  beginning  a  mispelling
  27. 27. Within word and between word pauses
  28. 28. Within and between word pauses D  (n=31) CA  (n=31) SA  (n=31) Within-­‐word  pauses .13 (.14) .01 (.02) .17 (.21) CA < (D = SA) Between-­‐word  pauses .37 (.15) .24 (.09) .58 (.22) CA < D < SA Note.  Within-­‐  and  between-­‐  word  pause  frequency  (%)  as  a  percentage  of  possible  pause   locations.   Sumner, Connelly & Barnett (2012) Reading and Writing
  29. 29. Predictors of Lexical Diversity •  Within word pauses linked with vocabulary choice R2 R2 change F df p Dyslexia Within-word pauses .35 .35 15.81 1, 29 < .001 CA group Within-word pauses .01 .01 .37 1, 29 ns SA group Within-word pauses .15 .15 4.80 1, 29 .03
  30. 30. Conclusions about writing and dyslexia •  Majority of children with dyslexia struggle with writing and are impaired compared to same age peers on quality of composition. •  Quality of composition is linked to spelling ability levels. •  No sign of a motor deficit and handwriting execution similar in speed to same age peers. •  Longer pause times during composition concur with work with adults on typing (Wengelin, 2007)
  31. 31. •  Pausing prior to misspelling and within word pauses significant constraint on writing – struggling with the writing process •  Impacts on number of words produced and lexical diversity a well as spelling accuracy •  Poor phonological processing linked to spelling ability in single word and composition tasks •  No sign of oral vocabulary problems in order to generate an equivalent oral composition. •  Role of reading? Conclusions about writing and dyslexia
  32. 32. Simple developmental model of writing Modification of the simple view of writing in Berninger and Amtmann (2003).
  33. 33. Specific Language Impairment •  Occurs in the absence of any organic, social or cognitive causes. § Specific problems or disorders in comprehending or producing speech and a delayed learning of language § Problems associated with limited processing, grammar, phonology & the lexicon •  Criteria for diagnosis focuses on:- § Performance on a language test which is below the child’s chronological age § Discrepancy between the child’s language skills and their non-verbal abilities § Norbury (2011) & Norbury & Sparks (2013)
  34. 34. 34 Example Essays Age 11 SLI
  35. 35. 35 Dockrell, Lindsay & Connelly (2009) • Longitudinal study of children with SLI aged 8 to age 16. • Path analysis examining predictions of literacy and language on writing at age 16 in sample of children with SLI. Writing at 16 years of age *** <.001, **.01, * .05 Writing age 14Spelling age 14Reading age 14 Vocabulary age 11 Vocabulary age 8 Writing age 11 .54*** .27* .34* .32*** Oral language production age 14 .75*** .51*** .25* .71*** .34*** .55***
  36. 36. Simple developmental model of writing Modification of the simple view of writing in Berninger and Amtmann (2003).
  37. 37. Temporal Measures Composition Task SLI Study • No significant difference between the handwriting execution of SLI and CA • More pausing associated with misspelling in SLI and LA match groups. SLI Age-matched Language-match Words per min 11.0 15.2 10.4 Execution speed (cm/s) 2.37 2.57 1.93 Of total time: Pause % 60% 49% 56% Writing % 40% 51% 44% Connelly, Dockrell, Walter & Critten (2012) Written Communication.
  38. 38. Simple developmental model of writing Modification of the simple view of writing in Berninger and Amtmann (2003).
  39. 39. Facing the future? Children’s difficulties with writing continue unless support is provided. Short texts, Error prone, Spelling difficulties, Poor sentence structure 1970 British cohort study example. 18% reported difficulty with writing. Many struggled with writing a thank-you letter, legible handwriting, “to put down in words” what they wanted to say Meltzer (2007) Without help pupils continue to write at an 8 year old level throughout secondary school Half sentences complete, Simple sentences Quality of text produced at 11 strong predictor of quality of text produced at 16 (mediated through spelling and reading skills)
  40. 40. Transcription Skills and composition Dockrell et al. (2007) WOLD composition task Z Scores over time Age 11 to Age 16 in children with SLI Handwriting and spelling at age 16 predicted the decrease in WOLD composition scores. The less fluent the writer then the more likely to show a decrease in composition over time.
  41. 41. Summary •  Children with SLI have a “double deficit” with poor vocabulary and poor spelling a real constraint on writing. •  Children with Dyslexia are constrained by spelling leading to poor compositions and reduced written vocabulary. •  Simple model of writing useful for predicting written performance of children with writing difficulties
  42. 42. Further Questions? •  Temporal analysis allows hypotheses about the process of writing to be derived. •  Issues of links between handwriting and spelling? Essentially the same task? •  What is happening during the pauses that are slowing down these children?
  43. 43. Glimmers of hope? •  Some children with dyslexia did produce a lot of text… •  10 years, 2 months •  All pauses >2 seconds •  Only 4 spelling errors but simple vocabulary and repetition.
  44. 44. Glimmers of hope? •  15 spelling errors but more varied vocabulary. 9 years, 10 months. All pauses >2 seconds
  45. 45. Glimmers of hope? •  Adults with dyslexia in HE produce ideas as good as peers in their writing (Connelly et al, 2006). Group Analytic scoring elements Students with Dyslexia CA match Typical scoring elements at the mean score level Ideas & development 2.38 (0.59) 2.65 (0.67) “Adequately supported ideas with some details extended or elaborated”. Organisation, unity & coherence 2.62 (0.67) 2.65 (0.49) “Fairly well organised, with good unity of plan. Some transitions may be used. Little or no digression from main idea.” Vocabulary 2.76 (0.54) 3.30 (0.47) “Good word choices that are appropriate, specific and varied and have some appeal.” Sentence structure/variety 3.00 (0.84) 2.90 (0.45) “Good mix of sentence lengths and structures.” Grammar 2.90 (0.62) 3.05 (0.69) “Good grammar and word usage.” Capitalisation/punctuation 2.95 (0.86) 3.60 (0.68) “Most punctuation and capitalisation correct.”
  46. 46. Improving Spelling Berninger et al, (1998) •  Sample of 128 seven year olds in the US •  Intervened with twice weekly 20 minute sessions on improving spelling for 12 weeks. Focused on alphabetic principles and High Frequency words. •  Embedded use of new words in compositions as part of the spelling intervention. •  Raised not just spelling but also had a wider impact on composition quality and in particular number of words written in classroom compositions.
  47. 47. Improving Handwriting •  Hoy, Egan & Feder (2011) •  “Cognitive” interventions were more effective •  “Sensorimotor” interventions alone no evidence of effectiveness •  Regardless of treatment type, interventions that did not include direct handwriting practice and those that included less than 20 practice sessions were ineffective.
  48. 48. Improving Handwriting •  Christensen (2005) Intervention to improve the speed of handwriting in secondary school students •  One group received instruction & practice in handwriting speed •  One group received equivalent time writing in a journal
  49. 49. General Conclusions •  Resource demands on specific aspects of writing in young children can have an impact on all aspects of composition. •  Children with dyslexia will produce poorer quality compositions due to their poor spelling. •  Children with SLI will produce poorer quality compositions due to their poor language & poor spelling. •  A similar pattern for other difficulties e.g., DCD, autism?
  50. 50. General Conclusions •  Children with writing difficulties can show similar writing behaviors to other children with writing difficulties and to younger writers. •  However, causes of difficulties can be different in each case. •  Therefore, interventions need to be tailored to the individual to some degree
  51. 51. Persistent & Sometimes Hidden Difficulties •  Montgomery (2012) •  One third of children with writing difficulties had spelling problems without obvious reading problems. •  Some of the pupils had learned to read well, self-taught at an early age or had an earlier reading difficulty that had cleared up. •  All had poor writing and compositional skills. •  Very few had been referred for remedial help in school.
  52. 52. General Conclusions •  It is difficult to become a good writer without adequate spelling and handwriting skills. •  Poor spelling and handwriting reduce motivation to compose writing.
  53. 53. Sources of Further information http://psych.brookes.ac.uk/ewsc/ http://carnegie.org/fileadmin/Media/Publications/InformingWriting.pdf http://www.all4ed.org/files/WritingNext.pdf http://www.all4ed.org/files/WritingToRead.pdf
  54. 54. Thank- you Any questions?

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