Learning how to read is one of the most important objectives of our education system. It is the basis for all other subjects in school, and a condition for active participation in societal life. However, not all students develop the reading and writing skills that are expected by the education system and society. In a new study at Linnaeus University, Thomas Nordström has investigated two methods to improve pupils’ reading and writing skills.
Using digital assessments to target individual needs in classroom instruction
The first method focuses on how recurring digital tests and assessments of all pupils’ reading skills make it easier for the teacher to implement individualized measures in the teaching. Thomas Nordström’s studies demonstrate a till-now untapped potential, that is to say making use of digital tests as a basis for this differentiated teaching. The test takes about 2 hours, then the programme marks and compiles all the information for the teacher.
Using assistive technology for students with severe reading difficulties
The other method focuses on the use of digital aids, so-called assistive technology, primarily text-to-speech and speech-to-text functions, for pupils with severe reading and writing difficulties.
“Some pupils with reading and writing difficulties could use the technology to better keep up with the teaching. They were able to understand texts more easily and quickly, both fiction and non-fiction texts. By using the assistive technology, the pupils became more motivated in their school work”, explains Thomas Nordström.
Thomas Nordström’s doctoral thesis demonstrates that it is possible to strengthen all pupils’ reading development by carrying out systematic assessments or mapping of reading skills, and the significance of using new, digital technology to promote every pupil’s right to learn, based on an inclusive approach.
“Another important result is that we now have tools that can help us individualize teaching, based on assessment data and recommendations. Also, training with assistive technology is an example of individualized teaching. However, there is still work to do, mainly implementation work, in order for it to be possible to use these working methods in an optimal way”, says Thomas Nordström.
Thomas Nordström publicly defended his doctoral thesis in psychology, “Measures that matter: facilitating literacy through targeted instruction and assistive technology”, on Friday, 30 November at 13:15 in room Wicksell, building K, campus Växjö. Link to the doctoral thesis: https://tinyurl.com/y9ew3ewj
Main supervisor: Idor Svensson, professor of clinical psychology.
External reviewer: Dave L Edyburn, PhD, Associative Dean for Research, College of Community Innovation and Education, University of Central Florida (USA).