Teaching non-readers with severe learning difficulties to recognise words: The effective use of symbols in a new technique

Sheehy, Kieron and Howe, M.J.A. (2001). Teaching non-readers with severe learning difficulties to recognise words: The effective use of symbols in a new technique. Westminster Studies in Education, 24(1) pp. 61–71.

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Abstract

Despite the apparent advantages of incorporating logographic symbols in procedures intended to teach children with severe learning difficulties to recognise words, such procedures have never proved successful. Their failure has been attributed to a blocking effect that is induced by the additional cues. The blocking effect account predicts that any method that involves introducing additional stimulus cues will be inefficient for teaching word recognition, compared with a word alone method. A new technique was devised in an attempt to surmount this problem. The basis of the technique draws on a range of research areas. Children who had no reading skills and had previously failed to gain any sight vocabulary were taught to recognise 12 words. An experiment compared a word alone method with two variants of the new technique. Both versions were more successful than the word alone method at teaching the children to recognise the words. The findings refute the view that any procedure that incorporates additional cues will necessarily be ineffective. For students who have hitherto made no progress at all in learning to recognise words, the new technique offers an effective instructional procedure.

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