Predicting and supporting reading acquisition via computer games for children at risk for dyslexia
08/2010 — 12/2013. Project ended.
Graphogame developed in the multidisciplinary Agora Human Technology Center of the University of Jyväskylä instructs reading skills to children. It has been in free use via net among more than 60 000 Finnish children. This game and associated technologies - part of which will be developed in this context - will be central tools in the collaborative research applied here.
The most urgent related need in Chile is to help socially disadvantaged children. In Finland a comparable need is faced by children with most severe dyslexia, a neurodevelopmental disorder the consequences of which can be minimized by optimally targeted intensive training. Although it looks as though these two goals of helping children are not compatible these in fact are very much compatible - this is the creation of the most effective type of practice of reading acquisition for both types of users in need. The emphasis of the research in Finland will take the next step in the development of the game which can be made via basic research only. The results of this effort will be helpful and of use also in Chile although the main challenge in Chile is how to optimally implement such an opportunity to receive help to disadvantaged children in Chile. Our aim is to develop easy to use and distribute procedures to help parents and teachers to identify children who are at risk for reading problem early enough, and also develop an optimal preventive training program for these children to be able to minimize the problems associated with accuracy and automatization of reading. At the same time we will examine the effect of the transparency of the writing system on the learning rate. Our challenge is also to further refine the adaptation of the game-based learning environment to respond to individual needs. A comparable math game will be used in the validation study for control purposes. We will study the effects of preventive training in preschool aged children in Finland and Chile among two target groups of children depending on the type of risk for reading failure, ie. 1) biological and 2) social risk.
The social risk is defined via low social status in Chile and high values of risk predictors of reading in Finland. The training will be organised in such a way that children can have the training preventively to avoid failure at school. The children in need of such preventive training can be identified using the knowledge collected in the Jyväskylä Longitudinal study of Dyslexia (JLD). It has been shown that children at risk can be identified accurately without wrong negatives (ie. all who faced reading problem in this prospective longitudinal study)two years before reading age using simple letter naming task. The ultimate goal is that the early identification and preventive training procedures will be made available for free to the end users also in Chile if there is evidence that they work in the expected way.