Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - LCLD (Improving Dyslexic Children's Reading Abilities: the Role of Action Video Games and Hypermedia Texts)

The main aim of this project is to identify practices for improving dyslexic children’s reading abilities, starting from some recent discoveries in the field (Facoetti A., Franceschini S., Molteni M., Gori S., Ruffino M., Viola S., 2013). In particular, it focuses on the role of visual attention and how an improvement in visual attention through video games/hypermedia platforms may or may not be related to a an improvement in reading speed and accuracy. A second objective is to study weather a nine-day training through Wii console, involving body movements, has an impact on 'Action' Language.
During the first 18 months of this IOF project – outgoing phase - the researcher has been working at the University of Sydney, Faculty of Education and Social Work.
Considering the highly interdisciplinary nature of the project, collaborations have also been sought and established with the Department of Linguistics, the School of Psychology, the CoCo Lab (Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition) of the same University.
At the Faculty of Education, he has been supervised by Dr. Jen Scott Curwood, who is an expert in Literacy and in digital media. he has also started a crucial collaboration with Dr Susan Colmar, whose expertise in reading, dyslexia and testing has allowed him to gain expertise in order to meet the requirements of Milestone number 1. Dr Jen Scott Curwood, besides important support for settling down in Sydney, has introduced the researcher to colleagues who have later proven important for his work (including scholars from the Cognition Clinic for Reading at Macquarie University). She has also tutored him on Australian Literacy Practices and her support has been crucial when he applied for Ethics Approval both at the Committee of the University of Sydney and at the Committee of Public Schools of New South Wales.
Training objectives have also been accomplished thanks to the Seminars and the Courses organised by Emeritus Professor James Martin, who has kindly allowed the researcher to take part into his ‘Axial Relations’ Course and into the ‘Multi/Hyper-modality’ Course. In addition, weekly seminars focused on Systemic Functional Linguistics have provided important inputs and ideas on the best strategies to use to accomplish the project’s objectives.
Activities of Milestone 1 have also included a ‘short term memory’/‘attention mechanisms’ course at the School of Psychology with Dr Damian Birney and some meetings with Dr. Micah Goldwater, who is interested in the semantic processing of words. The weekly seminars at the CoCo Lab and the regular conversations with its members have also been important for his training.
Seminars and one to one meetings have been constant throughout the whole 18 months, not only for Milestone 1, and have allowed him to gain competences and regularly discuss experiment strategies and data in several moments of the study.
From the 4th month onwards, once Ethical approval was obtained, the Dr. Trevisan started to pursue the objectives indicated in Milestone 2, which included the selection of the students involved in the project, preparation of the stimula to be used with the children, children’s pre-evaluation through the tests, Fieldwork, children’s post- evaluation through the tests, data analysis, dissemination.
Experiments have been carried out in three different moments (June 2015, September 2015, January 2016): children, aged 8-14, have been recruited through Australia Dyslexia Association, SPELD, and Public Schools. During the meetings with the children’s parents, the researcher has had the opportunity to illustrate the European Commission Grants in general and the ‘Marie Curie’ in particular. Also this ‘dissemination’ phase has been regular throughout the 18 months (see below).
Preparation of the stimula and tests have also benefited from many conversations with a group of psychologists at the University of Padua (Italy), whose Italian experiments he was replicating in Sydney.
A crucial collaboration has been the one with Professor Adolfo Garcia, the Director of ‘Laboratorio de Psicología Experimental y Neurociencias (LPEN)’, in Buenos Aires. As a neurolinguist, he is currently working on different projects in Argentina and abroad, and is particularly interested in the relationship between ‘action language’ (verbs of doing) and motor system. In particular, he has worked extensively with Parkinson’s disease patients, demonstrating that people with motor impairments also tend to be impaired on those parts of the language which involve description of actions versus abstract verbs (‘cleaning’ versus ‘dreaming’, for example). The collaboration with Professor Garcia has included some training on crucial neurolinguistics aspects and the creation of new tests that have been used with dyslexic children. These tests investigate comprehension of Action versus Non action language or, in Systemic Functional Linguistics Terms, Material Processes versus Mental Processes) after nine days of Action/ Non-Action gaming through Wii consoles (that involve movements of the body).
The main results so far show a relationship between visual attention training and reading speed/accuracy, and an improvement in the comprehension of verbs of doing versus other verbs for the kids who have been playing Action Video Games.
In the final year some more experiments with Italian Dyslexic children are expected, together with a closer collaboration with Professor Adolfo Garcia and his Lab in Buenos Aires.
Potential impact includes strategies for improving dyslexic children reading abilities and, in the future, the creation of Adaptive learning environments for dyslexic children.


Nicoletta Vasta, (Full Professor)
Tel.: +39 0432556765
Fax: +39 0432556779


Life Sciences
Record Number: 188908 / Last updated on: 2016-09-19
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