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A Review of Study Skill Programs for Dyslexic Students

by Lynette Penney | Oct 18, 2012

Many dyslexic students find it difficult to acquire general study skills. Here we examine tools that can help develop these skills.

Many dyslexic students find it difficult to acquire general study skills. Unlike other students they do not pick up skills through general teaching, they need to be specifically taught these skills. These skills include:

  • Note taking
  • Memorising
  • Revision
  • Essay planning
  • Reading
  • Writing skills
  • Organisation
  • Time management
  • Presentation skills

Problems with study skills can carry on after dyslexic students have overcome their problems with literacy skills. This can lead to them underachieving even though their reading and spelling skills seem unaffected by their disability. There are a number of software packages that can help; either because they teach these skills in a multi-sensory environment or because they actually help complete the studying tasks in a supportive environment. This article is going to give a quick overview of the programs that are available and how they can be used successfully.

Software for teaching general study skills

Books and software packages for teaching study skills tend to be aimed at students aged 13 or over as this is when they need to develop independent learning skills as they prepare for public examinations.

Wordswork
is a huge resource of study and advanced literacy skills for students in further and higher education. Based on material by Ellen Morgan of City University, London, it offers strategies for overcoming many of the hurdles associated with dyslexia by using examples from real students. As well as study skills, Wordswork also covers grammar, handwriting and common spelling errors. Because of the amount of material contained with this package it is ideal for resource centres, study support centres and libraries.

Wordswork is suitable for students aged 15 and above.

Software for developing memory and problem solving study skills

Mastering Memory is a programme for developing memory strategies in children and adults. It consists of a computer program with graded memory exercises and a manual which explains to the teacher or parent how to develop memory strategies. The complete version includes pictures and abbreviations appropriate for use with adults (e.g. road and health and safety signs). It can also be used to develop auditory or visual skills depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the individual.

SCANiT Plus is a program for developing reading speed and accuracy. By offering multiple choice exercises on a variety of topics, including reading, spelling and science, students can increase the speed and accuracy at which they can absorb information. It can also be used both as a revision tool and as a tools to develop reading.

Scally’s World of Problems is a child-friendly and absorbing program for developing logic and planning skills. Scally is an alien on the planet Wag who has to think his way out of eight different environments. Each environment contains 25 graded puzzles which get the user to solve problems and plan routes to protect baby Wags. More advanced learners can design their puzzles while this program is great for group activities. The program comes with a teachers guide and advice on how to integrate it into classroom activities. Scally’s World of Problems is suitable for pupils aged 7-14 although adults can find it fun and useful too.

Other Tools To Consider

Mind mapping or concept mapping techniques are also very useful for overcoming difficulties with general study skills. They are a great way of revising topics, creating essay plans or planning a presentation. There are a number of software programs available such as Inspiration and MindGenius, which enable users to create and edit these maps on a computer. MindGenius also includes time management and project management functions for those who need support with organisation. The is more detailed information on how to use concept maps in our Introduction to Concept Mapping.