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Improving Dyslexic Children's Reading Abilities: the Role of Action Video Games and Hypermedia Texts

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Visual attention and dyslexia

An EU team studied dyslexia in Australian children. The work revealed a potential role for action video games to treat the condition.

Society
Health

Dyslexia is a reading disorder, classified as a learning disability. Sufferers perceive letters in a jumbled order, plus often have trouble with rhymes and other aspects of phonology. The EU-funded LCLD (Improving dyslexic children’s reading abilities: The role of action video games and hypermedia texts) project investigated ways of improving the reading abilities of dyslexic children. The team studied the role of visual attention, and whether its development through video games is associated with improved reading speed and accuracy. LCLD also examined the role of body movements in the comprehension of action language. The project’s first 18 months involved researcher secondment to the University of Sydney’s faculty of Education and Social Work. During this period collaborations were established with the University’s Department of Linguistics, School of Psychology, and Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition. The latter association also contributed to researcher training. Next, researchers began a phase of selecting students for study and the stimuli to be used. The team also chose the forms of pre- and post-evaluation testing. Dyslexic children were recruited through the Australia Dyslexic Association and public schools. During the experimentation phase, project researchers established collaboration with Argentinian colleagues, who provided training and helped create new tests. During the second year, the team strengthened existing collaborations with European colleagues. Experimental results confirmed that training with action video games improved reading skills in English-speaking children. Such improvement did not require direct targeting of phonological, orthographic or grapheme-to-phoneme decoding. Secondly, the team found that body training through Wii games improved comprehension of action-verb narratives. Comprehension of other types of narratives did not improve. The LCLD project set the stage for low-resource early intervention programmes that could reduce the incidence of dyslexia. The findings also permit creation of adaptive learning environments for dyslexic children, combining new and traditional techniques.

Keywords

Visual attention, dyslexia, action video games, reading, LCLD, dyslexic children

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