IDA Research Committee Update: Teacher Knowledge of Basic Language Concepts and Dyslexia

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June 2011

Hugh Catts Black & WhiteHugh Catts, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders at the University of Kansas, IDA Board Member, and Chair of IDA’s Research Committee, will periodically be summarizing important research articles for the eXaminer. The first such article focuses on teacher knowledge needed in order to provide good reading instruction to all children, including struggling readers.


Washburn, E.K., Joshi, R.M., & Binks-Cantrll, E.S. (2011). Teacher knowledge of basic language concepts and dyslexia. Dyslexia, 17, 165-183.

Much has been learned in recent years concerning how best to teach children to read and why some children continue to struggle despite good classroom instruction.  For this knowledge to be translated into practice, teachers must have an adequate understanding of the basic language concepts that underlie good reading instruction and how this information can be used to help struggling readers . A growing body of research shows, however, that many teachers lack such an understanding. In a recent study, Washburn, Joshi, & Binks-Canrell (2011) extended this work to the study of teachers’ knowledge related to dyslexia. They surveyed 185 kindergarten to 5th grade teachers concerning their knowledge of basic language concepts and their perceptions about dyslexia. They found that while most teachers had a basic understanding of speech sounds and syllables, many lacked more advanced knowledge about morphology and phonics principles. In addition, the majority of the teachers appeared to hold the common misconception that dyslexia is a visually-based rather than a language-based disorder. Most teachers did recognize that special training was needed to work with children with dyslexia.

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