Primary School Teachers' Knowledge and Awareness of Dyslexia in Kuwaiti Students
Aladwani, Amel M., Shaye, Shaye S. Al, Education
For many years teachers have been concerned about students who appear normal, intelligent, and healthy, but struggle with reading and learning to read and write. These difficulties are identified under the concept of dyslexia. In general, dyslexia is a language-based learning disability; it refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person's life. It is referred to as a learning disability because it can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment. (International Dyslexia Association, 2007)
Like many teachers in other countries, Kuwaiti teachers are aware of this problem, but lack of time, and being overloaded with daily school routines and responsblities, prevent them from helping and assessing these children. On other hand, the Kuwait Dyslexia Association (KDA) has conducted a popular survey (2004) that highlighted the alarming rate of dyslexia: 6.3% of students attending primary schools in Kuwait. In response, a number of actions have been initiated by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which declared the establishment of a "Dyslexia Higher Education Committee" in 2005 to raise awareness of dyslexia in mainstream Kuwaiti schools. Also, it started a national initiative, "Dyslexia-Friendly Schools," in collaboration with the KDA and the British Dyslexia Association in 10 schools across Kuwait. (Elbeheri, 2008) Such actions should have an impact, increasing understanding and achievement in Kuwaiti schools.
Therefore, this study intends to investigate Kuwaiti languge teachers' level of knowledge and awareness of dyslexia in the primary grades. A number of benefits were expected as a result of this research, which are as follows:
1. Students will get more help from their teacher, and receive adequate assistance as needed, if the teachers have appropriate knowledge and understanding of the students' problems.
2. Teachers, viewing these results, will compare their current knowledge of dyslexia with accurate information from the literature.
3. School administrators and educational policymakers will benefit from these results by being able to base their actions on valid data--teachers' actual knowledge of dyslexia--and will also try to asses their own current perception of this learning difficulty. Also, they will learn the right support school children need, the various strengths and weaknesses of interventions, and how to encourage further professional interventions programs if required.
Statement of the problem
The research problem is guided by the following three research questions:
1. Are teachers in Kuwaiti primary schools trained to deal with students with dyslexia?
2. Do teachers in Kuwaiti primary schools have adequate knowledge and awareness about the early signs of dyslexia?
3. Are there any mean differences between teachers' training, knowledge, and awareness level, and their ability to diagnose symptoms of dyslexia, compared with their demographic backgound (gender, nationality, educational degree, and teaching experience)?
Purpose of the study
This study investigates Kuwaiti primary school teachers' knowledge of the early signs of dyslexia and their awareness level of the related difficulties dyslexic children suffer. It aims to collect solid data about to what extent languge teachers have trained on this learning disability, and whether language teachers can diagnose and identify the early symptoms of dyslexia among their students.
Importance of the Study
The justification for the present study is related to both future practice and research. It is anticipated that the findings of this study will contribute--especially in Kuwait--to the body of knowledge related to teachers' knowledge and awareness of dyslexic students, because it is the first study in Kuwait examining primary school teachers' knowledge and awareness level of dyslexic students.
Recently, there have been increasingly concerned calls from educators and parents to assist and solve the challenges of high numbers of slow learners and students with learning problems in Kuwaiti public schools. There are demands to diagnose and develop programs to help slow learners and learners with disabilities to cope in Kuwaiti mainstream schools. (Kuwait Dyslexia Association, 2002) Recent studies have demonstrated that intervention is effective and that prevention of reading failure is possible if preschool and schoolchildren at risk of dyslexia are identified early and offered timely and evidence-based training. For example, The International Dyslexia Asssociation (2009) reports that about 13 to 14% of the school population in the USA have a handicapping condition that qualifies them for special education. Of this population, one-half of all the students who qualify for special education are classified as having learning disabilities (LD) (6-7%). About 85% of those LD students have a primary learning disability in reading and language processing. Yet many more people, perhaps as much as 15-20% of the population as a whole, have some of the symptoms of dyslexia. These symptoms include slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing, or mixing up similar words. (Burns Hurst, 2011) Teachers play a critical role in identifying and dealing with the first signs of dyslexia--if they are aware of its symptoms. (Spirou, 2008)
Meanwhile, in Kuwait, a 2004 survey study conducted by the Kuwait Dyslexia Association (KDA) highlighted the alarming prevalence of dyslexia in Kuwait: 6.3% of the students attending primary school. In 2005 the Kuwaiti Minister of Education issued a Ministerial Decree for establishing a Dyslexia Higher Educational Committee to raise awareness of dyslexia in mainstream Kuwaiti schools. (Elbeheri, 2008) The awareness campagin has had its impacts; however, the effectiveness of the campaign hasn't yet been evaluated.
The KDA's awareness campaign aimed towards "dyslexic-friendly schools," in other words to encourage schools to make themselves more responsive to the needs of dyslexic learners through educating, preparing, and evaluating teachers and parents about dyslexia and efforts to be done to help dyslexics. (Kuwait Dyslexia Magazine, 2007; Center for Child Evaluation and Teaching, 2007 )
Hence, given the urgent and increasing need for more extensive programs of integrated literacy and reading programs among the academic and therapeutic programs in schools, it is important to determine whether teachers share the basic information about dyslexia, and what teachers' beliefs are about the essential characteristic of the disorder. Also, it is important to collect scientific data on the intervention techniques teachers think might benefit young learners with dyslexia.
Definitions of the study
Dyslexia: refers to a cluster of symptoms that result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulty with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages.
It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services. (The International Dyeslexia Association, 2009)
Most educational experts believe that reading ability is the focal point for success in any educational system, and learning to read is one of the most important events in a child's school career. (Anderson et al., 1985) In Kuwait, like other countries, reading is one of the basic skills required in the study of language, whether a native or foreign languge. In the Ministry of Education's 2005 report, it noted:
Reading is the most basic skill of all academic pursuits because all other content achievement depends on the ability to read and comprehend the materials presented. In the early grades, early mastery of the skills necessary to unlock written language …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Primary School Teachers' Knowledge and Awareness of Dyslexia in Kuwaiti Students. Contributors: Aladwani, Amel M. - Author, Shaye, Shaye S. Al - Author. Journal title: Education. Volume: 132. Issue: 3 Publication date: Spring 2012. Page number: 499+. © 1999 Project Innovation. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.