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The dyslexia system: Using the Millennium Cohort Study and a survey of teachers to investigate the perceptions, predictors and repercussions of the dyslexia label.

Knight, Cathryn 2019. The dyslexia system: Using the Millennium Cohort Study and a survey of teachers to investigate the perceptions, predictors and repercussions of the dyslexia label. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In the current academic climate, the concept of dyslexia is being increasingly questioned. This thesis aims to contribute to this debate by focusing on the dyslexia label, how it is acquired and the real impact it can have on both the individual and those around them. It examines the various factors that may be involved in influencing a dyslexic individual by looking, not only at the individual, but also at the environment in which they are situated. Thus, the term ‘dyslexic system’ is defined to describe how the individual and their environment interact. The research involved the use of two datasets. Firstly, the Millennium Cohort Study was used to examine what socio-demographic and individual level factors influenced whether the cohort member had a diagnosis of dyslexia at ages 7, 11 and 14 in England and in Wales. Using this information, the impact of the dyslexia label on academic self-concept was then investigated. Secondly, primary survey data from teachers in England and Wales was used to investigate how teachers understood dyslexia. Logistic regression analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study showed that both individual and social demographic factors impacted whether a cohort member had been labelled with dyslexia. Sex, social class, parents’ education, income, having an older sibling and age in year group were all significant predictors of dyslexia at varying ages. Furthermore, when dyslexic and non-dyslexic cohort members were matched on these characteristics using propensity score matching, those labelled with dyslexia had a lower academic self-concept than those without this label. Teachers and parents also held lower aspirations for children labelled with dyslexia, despite the groups being matched on ability. Results from the teacher survey showed that the majority of teachers surveyed did not show an understanding of the biological and cognitive aspects of dyslexia which have been found to be important for effective intervention. Furthermore, teachers reported poor teacher training on dyslexia. Factors seemingly unrelated to dyslexia influence whether a child is labelled as dyslexic in England and Wales. This suggests that that the label is not evenly distributed across the population and indicates that resources for support may not be being fairly allocated. Furthermore, the dyslexia label also negatively impacts the child’s academic outlook and evokes a stereotypical understanding in teachers. These findings highlight the importance of looking at dyslexia as a system. The results foreground the need for change in the current system.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Submission
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 January 2019
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2020 02:54

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