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Home > Disability > Experiment for dyslexia - Cagliari 2006
 

Formal learning experiment with Knowledge Master for dyslexia

Cagliari - 2006

Meaningful learning:

Favors understanding in the dyslexic person through the use of concept maps with Knowledge Master technology
 
Online course: Educational innovation for the different learning styles (dyslexia, ADD, autism, etc.)


In the Spring of 2006, the research and development group of Knowledge Master Corp entered into scientific collaboration with the Diagnostic and Treatment Centre for Learning Difficulties (CTR) of Cagliari with the aim of analyzing in detail the effects of cognitive treatment, based on the use of Knowledge Master concept maps, on dyslexic children of various ages.

This study was a project put forward by Dr. Chiara Zampi (a cognitive psychologist of the Knowledge Master Corpgroup) and by Dr. Stefania Busia (a learning psychologist  from the "Diagnostic and Treatment Centre for Learning Difficulties" CTR Cagliari. It was held at the Cagliari centre and was conducted by by Dr. Busia and by the other learning psychologists,  Dr. Valentina Botta, Dr. Stefania Desotgiu and Dr. Michela Deiana.

 

The head of the "Diagnostic and Treatment Centre for Learning Difficulties" - CTR Cagliari, Dr. Luisa Molinas (child neuropsychiatrist, AID instructor) personally supervised the project throughout all its stages.

The aim of the study was to verify the possibility of obtaining an improved quality of learning and an improved acceptance towards learning thanks to the attraction and efficiency of the method and technology used.

In the study carried out in the autumn of 2006, ten children took part between the ages of 12 and 15 attending classes from the first year of Middle School to second year of the Upper School.


 

The method was presented to them together with some individual and group activities and the direct use of software. They were all asked to apply the method to their school homework for a brief period (two months) after which they had the option of replying to an anonymous questionnaire in order to assess their opinions on the experiment carried out and  pleasure they found in using the software.

Their parents too could reply to parallel questions regarding their observations on their child's experience.

 


Results of the questionnaires

The children's and parents' replies have been statistically analyzed. For simplicity, only those results which have been statistically discriminated are given with a graph relative to those replies.

To view the graph, click on the desired reply.

The most significant replies from the children are:

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the children considered the experience to satisfactory on the whole,
 

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they believe the experience has been interesting,
 

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they consider the program to be good,
 

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they particularly believe the program is easy to learn and use,
 

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they think the experience can help improve their school results,

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however, they do not consider it can sufficiently change the relationship with their class mates.
 


The replies from the parents on the experience show:

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they consider the experience to be satisfactory on the whole,

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they believe the experience has partly contributed to their child overcoming scholastic difficulties,

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they maintain that the program can be very useful to their child in the future,

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they maintain that the experience should absolutely be repeated

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the majority believes that the experience has changed the way their child studies,.

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the majority declares that they would repeat the experience.


Conclusion

Before proceeding with comments on the results, it is necessary to explain that this has been the first study of this kind to be carried out. For this reason, the participation was not particularly numerous and some of the questions could not give a sufficiently high proportion of statistically significant replies.

The results given above and the conclusions are therefore limited to those which have  passed the statistical test.


The study has shown a positive result of an experiment based on a technological and cognitive approach from both the point of view of the perception of the experience and on the presumed effect of the experience itself. In fact, both the parents and the children, at the end of the study, considered the experience to have been very positive. It was a period in which they could learn and experiment on a different way of studying without being limited to the repeated and boring reading exercises of texts (also with vocal support) which, in their case is known to be both difficult and irritating and gives no efficient scholastic results.

We maintain that the most important result from the study carried out has been the positive feedback received from the participants, following the experience directed towards a study and learning approach not normally used: learning based on the cognitive stimulation of visual-spatial aptitudes on the one hand and  the categorization and synthesis of concepts on the other hand. These activities are fundamental in both the construction of the conceptual maps and in the efficient organization of knowledge in memory.

These activities are made much easier by the use of Knowledge Master, a software specifically studied and created to aid learning processes. It possesses particular functions to ease and stimulate the analysis of texts and cognitive manipulation of subjects in a visual-spatial way, thus allowing the new knowledge to be understood and structured visually as well as verbally. Many research and content analysis, automatic question and answer functions, paths and graphical organization facilitate understanding.  

It is vital to emphasize that the software is an efficient help to those with attention and perception difficulties. It assists by means of the multimodality of the voice support used simultaneously while viewing the map and the text. The software in no way substitutes the child who is learning. It interacts with the student, so it is the child himself who creates and organizes his knowledge.

An approach to active learning sustained by attentive and expert personnel, who can guide towards this different study method, has brought to fruition an efficient educational and psychopedagogical experience in an pleasurable and stimulating way and which, at the same time, offers excellent future prospects.



Finally, a worthy note regarding the difficulties these children have to integrate with the rest of the class and school. This should hopefully be without undergoing the painful processes of social frustration or alienation, phenomena which have important and negative results on the development of self esteem, motivation towards studying and improvement of one's own capacities.

From the only question statistically valid on the questionnaire regarding this aspect (as was expected) it emerges that this difficulty is not directly overcome solely by modifying the approach to studying. This is obviously linked with two determining factors: for various reasons, an innovative approach to studying does not always receive the support and follow-up of the teachers. This sometimes, makes it difficult to use it in the reality of the daily life at school; the process of integration takes a long time and it develops continuously. It can also be promoted by a changed or more positive attitude, which the student acquires a long with his capacities, which then lead him to integrate with the others.

From this point of view, the experience has proven to create a setting which favors social integration and communication and may give new impulses to the desire to interact with other such children. However, in every day life the right conditions must be maintained to ensure that the process does not eventually diminish.

We wish to thank in particular the CTR group at Cagliari coordinated by Dr. Busia, for their kind  assistance and for the professionalism shown in organizing and conducting this research.

 

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