Lynette Chesson

Research project: Lynette is completing her PhD in developmental psychology investigating the acquisition and development of literacy skills in young children as they progress through the first years of primary education.
Supervisors: Dr Joe Levy; Dr Lance Slade
This type of longitudinal research of typically developing children is crucial to our understanding of the complex nature of reading. In the early stages children must establish decoding skills to translate print, however, to be a skilled reader they must also learn to extract meaning to comprehend the text, using their oral language skills. According to one influential framework of successful reading acquisition, the ‘Simple View of Reading’ (eg Gough & Tunmer, 1986), successful reading comprehension is a product of these two sets of skills. Lynette’s project will focus on the comprehension aspect of reading.

The project began with pre-readers in nursery classes to collect a wide range of baseline data covering cognitive and socio-cognitive factors, as well as social factors such as the home literacy environment, that may underlie educational progress. The children continue to be regularly assessed each term to monitor their developing reading and comprehension related skills. At the pre-reading stage this has included the assessment of vocabulary, language abilities and narrative comprehension. As the children become independent readers they will be able to undertake simple text reading comprehension. Data analysis will investigate how the early skills relate to later reading comprehension.

To date, the identification and remediation for children who are struggling with comprehension has begun during the mid to late years of primary education. The aim of the study is to identify, as early as possible, those children who may be at risk for later reading comprehension problems. A long-term goal is to develop targeted remediation, which would be a huge step forward in helping those children affected by reading disorders.