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Comparison of Effectiveness of Phonological and Whole-Word Treatment Programmes within Two Dyslexia Subtypes

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posted on 08.11.2021, 00:17 by Rowse, Helen Jane

This thesis compares the effectiveness of two reading treatment programmes, each developed to address the key difficulties of two subtypes of developmental dyslexia - phonological and surface dyslexia, respectively. Previous cognitive neuropsychological research has commonly administered a single tailored treatment programme to each individual. However, this research administers both programmes to individuals from each subtype, and compares their effectiveness. In Experiment 1, a large group of reading-delayed children was screened, and, using Coltheart and Leahy's (1996) criteria, three children were identified as surface dyslexic and seven as phonological dyslexic. All were aged between 9 and 13 years. Following completion of a range of background tests to assess cognitive abilities potentially correlated with dyslexia, each child received two treatment programmes: 1) a phonologically-based programme training grapheme-to-phoneme correspondences (based on Broom and Doctor, 1995b) and 2) a whole-word programme (specifically designed for the current research), with pre- and post-tests throughout. Results indicated that all children significantly improved their reading of the trained words following both training programmes, regardless of subtype. For both subtypes, generalisation to untrained words was observed following the Phonological Programme, but not the Whole-word Programme. In Experiment 2, a second, more case-based investigation was conducted, focussing on one phonological dyslexic and one surface dyslexic, who were selected following extensive screening. Both were aged 10 years 11 months. Experiment 2 also examined the effectiveness of specific whole-word techniques. Results indicated a clear distinction between the responsiveness of the two participants, with each favouring their target treatment programme: the Phonological Programme was more effective for the phonological dyslexic than the Whole-word Programme, and vice versa for the surface dyslexic. The implications are discussed, with particular reference to suggestions for remediating reading disorders.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Psychology


Wilshire, Carolyn