Thursday, 3 January 2013

Explicit Synthetic Phonics and Visual attention span

Explicit Synthetic Phonics and Visual attention span

The claims made for ESP (explicit synthetic phonics) that the use of this approach will give rise to a generation of better readers should have been evidenced by now.

The first children exposed to the approach in the UK, in Clackmannanshire have taken their level 4 examinations.  
  • What were their results like? I was assuming that if the claims were valid that there should have been a step like improvement in the quality of the results.

Was there one?  I can find no reference to their outcomes.  If I had been involved in the research, it is where I would have gone straight away to validate my ideas….or refute them.

        If there was no gain........

        then the whole expensive ‘game’ may have been futile and very disruptive.

        If there was a positive step gain....... 

        then we should hear about it.  

I am very suspicious.

The main researcher is now a Professor and progressing well in her career. When I approached her on this topic, she told me that she had not looked and was not paid to do so!

 I would have looked whether I was paid or not!  Wouldn’t you?

I understand the primacy of the Phonological deficit ‘orthodoxy’ at present.  But the Valdois research really questions it’s ‘totality’.

The contribution of the visual attention span of a person to their reading speed, may well make all the difference in prosody and intonation in the ‘inner voice’.

    What really matters is...... 
  •     The ability to modulate the reading speed to the task in hand, rather than just ‘barking at the text’.
  •     Reduced demand on the central executive from the Visuo-spatial scratchpad.
  •     Having sufficient working memory available to deal with the ideas within the text as it is read

These contribute to comprehension, the enjoyment of reading, ultimately the total amount of reading undertaken by an individual and the development of ‘automaticity’.

If the Visual Attention Span of an individual can be extended, then this should create a step change!

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