Teacher Knowledge of Basic Language Concepts and Dyslexia: Are Teachers Prepared to Teach Struggling Readers?
Washburn, Erin Kuhl
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The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has declared reading failure a national public health issue. Approximately 15-20 % of the US population displays one or more symptoms of dyslexia: a specific learning disability that affects an individual's ability to process language. Consequently, elementary school teachers are teaching students who struggle with inaccurate or slow reading, poor spelling, poor writing, and other language processing difficulties. However, studies have indicated both preservice and inservice teachers lack essential knowledge needed to teach struggling readers, particularly children with dyslexia. Few studies have sought to assess teachers', either preservice or inservice, knowledge and perceptions about dyslexia in conjunction with knowledge of basic language concepts related to reading instruction. Thus, the purpose of this dissertation was to examine elementary school preservice and inservice teachers' knowledge of basic language concepts and their knowledge and perceptions about dyslexia. Three separate studies were conducted, all addressing the overarching question: Are elementary teachers (K-5) prepared to teach struggling readers? In study one, research that has addressed teacher knowledge of basic language concepts was reviewed systematically. In studies two and three, a basic language constructs survey was used to assess the self-perceptions/knowledge of basic language concepts and knowledge/perceptions about the nature of dyslexia of preservice, first year, and more experienced teachers involved in teaching reading in grades K-5.