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Effectiveness of Education of Working Memory Strategies on Improvement of Reading Performance and Reduction of Depression in Children with Dyslexia

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The present investigation was aimed to study the impact of education of working memory strategies on improvement of reading performance and reduction of depression in third grade elementary school students with dyslexia in Kouhdasht city. For this reason, after running the diagnostic test, 33 students were chosen among third grade elementary school dyslexic students with depression disorder through random cluster sampling method. Afterwards, they were placed in experimental and control groups randomly. The participants in the experimental group received training in strategies for working memory in 15 sessions. Eventually, the obtained data were analyzed using statistical covariance analysis. The results demonstrated that the reading performance of students in the experimental group significantly improved compared to the control group. Moreover, depression level significantly decreased compared to the control group. DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n6s6p66
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ISSN 2039-2117 (online)
ISSN 2039-9340 (print)
Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
MCSER Publishing, Rome-Italy
Vol 6 No 6 S6
December 2015
66
Effectiveness of Education of Working Memory Strategies on Improvement of
Reading Performance and Reduction of Depression in Children with Dyslexia
Abed Mahdavi
Corresponding Author. Psychology Department, Payame Noor University (PNU)
PO BOX 19395 - 3697, Tehran, Iran; Email: Abed_Mahdavi@yahoo.com
Mohammad Ehsan Taghizadeh
Psychology Department, Payame Noor University (PNU), PO BOX 19395 - 3697, Tehran, Iran
Soudabeh Isazadeh
Psychology Department, Payame Noor University (PNU), PO BOX 19395 - 3697, Tehran, Iran
Kheirollah Kazem Nia
Psychology Department, Payame Noor University (PNU), PO BOX 19395 - 3697, Tehran, Iran
Shahryar Vojdani
Psychology Department, Payame Noor University (PNU), PO BOX 19395 - 3697, Tehran, Iran
Seyedeh Nafiseh Hosseini
Psychology Department, Payame Noor University (PNU), PO BOX 19395 - 3697, Tehran, Iran
Maryam Falahati
Psychology Department, Payame Noor University (PNU), PO BOX 19395 - 3697, Tehran, Iran
Doi:10.5901/mjss.2015.v6n6s6p66
Abstract
The present investigation was aimed to study the impact of education of working memory strategies on improvement of reading
performance and reduction of depression in third grade elementary school students with dyslexia in Kouhdasht city. For this
reason, after running the diagnostic test, 33 students were chosen among third grade elementary school dyslexic students with
depression disorder through random cluster sampling method. Afterwards, they were placed in experimental and control groups
randomly. The participants in the experimental group received training in strategies for working memory in 15 sessions.
Eventually, the obtained data were analyzed using statistical covariance analysis. The results demonstrated that the reading
performance of students in the experimental group significantly improved compared to the control group. Moreover, depression
level significantly decreased compared to the control group.
Keywords: strategies for working memory, dyslexia, depression and performance improvement
Introduction
1.
Reading is the most fundamental learning tools for students (Sen, 2009). Reading is a psychological-linguistic process
based on information on vision, knowledge of the reader and phonological and semantic rules. In fact, reading is a result
of cognitive abilities, language, prior knowledge and skill acquisition in specific reading abilities (Allah Radi, Modaresi and
Mohammadi, 2001). Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities. The International Dyslexia Association
defined this disorder as a specific learning disability that has a neurodevelopmental and neurological basis. This defect
has negative impact on the accuracy and speed of word recognition, spelling and development of a quick phoneme-
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character relationship (Ahmad Panah, Pakadania, 2007). Definition of dyslexia based on DSM IV:
A) The results obtained from assessment of obvious reading abilities is less than the level expected with respect
to chronological age, intellectual class and training appropriate to the age of the participants.
B) Disturbance described in part A significantly coincides with academic achievement or activities of daily living,
which demands reading capacity.
C) If there is a sensory impairment, then reading problems are mostly beyond problems accompanied with this
impairment (Sadock and Sadock, 2007).
Dyslexia exists in about 75% of children and teenager with learning disability (Omidvar, 2005). The age of onset
and prediction of dyslexia should be at least 2 years less than chronological or educational age, so its recognition is not
possible before 8 years old (Dadsetan, 2000). Specifically, dyslexia is a kind of disorder in confusion of similar words,
guessing words with regard to the letters of the beginning and ending of the word, mirror reading or inversion reading of
words, extreme difficulty in spelling words, aversion to learning to read and difficulty in identifying components of the total
(Brooks, Berninger and Abbott, 2011).
Almost 80% of the students with learning disability face with problem in reading (Wallace, 2008; Mayes and
Calhoun, 2006). Swanson, Harris and Graham (2003) reported about 12% of the second grade primary school students
as the highest prevalence rate of reading disorder and about 15% of the fifth grade primary school students as the lowest
prevalence rate. Zahed (2012) demonstrated in an investigation that there is a significant difference between students
with dyslexia and normal students in terms of working memory. Working memory is responsible for temporary storage of
information for cognitive processing. Some of the related conducted researches indicated that people with dyslexia have
weaker skills in verbal working memory than visual-spatial working memory (Jenifer and Edward, 2004; Swanson,
Howard and Saez, 2006). Bakhshi and Pirzadi (2012) demonstrated that thinking-based and self-supervision active
metacognition strategies have positive features. Moreover, their application leads to enhancement of reading
comprehension and reading skills of students. Kirk and Chalfont (1988; quoted from Bahari and Seif Naraghi, 2008)
classified reading errors in students as the following. 1) Elimination: the child eliminates some of the words or parts of
them in a sentence. 2) Increasing: the child puts some additional words in a sentence. 3) Substituting: the child
substitutes a word with another word. 4) Repetition: the child repeats some of the words during reading. 5) Removing and
adding. 6) Inversion: the child reads "wind" as "widn". 7) Reading rapidly and without accuracy or slowly and word by
word. Most of the researchers found that students with reading disability experience more depression compared to their
peers although the related rate was between 14% and 36% (Rodriguez and Routh, 2006). Similarly, it has been
demonstrated that children who referred to outpatient mental health center had higher rates of disability (Cantwell and
Barker, 2003). Children with learning disability might experience more severe depression than older children with learning
disability experience, because older children understand their disabilities increasingly and deal them more easily (Miller
and Kelley, 2001). There are so many reasons about why children with learning disabilities might experience depression.
Some of the children might be able to tolerate repeated failures and setbacks as a result of their learning disabilities
(Grolinck and Ryan, 2001). Lack of consideration of disappointment and its reasons might lead to development of feelings
such as helplessness, inadequacy and frustration (Agran et al., 2005). Therefore, negative consequences resulting from
the existence of dyslexia and associated academic failure can lead to emotional disorders such as depression, so the
mentioned issue should be under special consideration (Yaghoubi and Ahadi, 2004). According to what has been
mentioned, the present investigation is to aimed study the impact of education of working memory strategies on
improvement of reading performance and reduction of depression in third grade elementary school students with dyslexia
in Kouhdasht city.
Research Hypotheses
2.
- Education of working memory strategies leads to improvement of reading performance of dyslexic students.
- Education of working memory strategies leads to reduction of depression of dyslexic students.
Methodology
3.
The investigation method is quasi experimental with post-test and pre-test with control group. The population consisted of
all third grade elementary school students with dyslexia in Kouhdasht city in the academic year of 2013-2014. Selection
of the participants and their substitution in control and experimental groups was randomly. Thirty-two individuals were
chosen from the children after implementation of reading disability test and Wechsler intelligence scale for fourth edition
children and obtaining parents and students' consent for taking part in the research, and they were divided into two
ISSN 2039-2117 (online)
ISSN 2039-9340 (print)
Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
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Vol 6 No 6 S6
December 2015
68
groups of 15 individuals (15 individuals in the experimental group and 15 individuals in control group). Afterwards, 15
sessions were designed and implemented in 3 months according to Den’s educational program (2008). Each session was
held in 1 hour and 3 times in a week. The obtained data was analyzed using covariance analysis.
3.1 Working Memory Training sessions are summarized as follows:
First session (introducing the method): the role of working memory in performing tasks related to reading is mentioned.
Second session (auditory memory): consisted of training of activities related to fulfilling orders, tracking orders,
memorizing some simple words, memorizing short poems for children.
Third session (visual memory): consisted of hiding an object, identifying eliminated objects, recalling observed
objects, recalling faces, repetition of patterns and model.
Fourth session (auditory and visual memory practices): auditory and visual memory practices are repeated again
and the child performs additional practices either.
Fifth session (playing with picture): some pictures are shown to the child and then, it is asked to recall the colors
and directions after 15 seconds.
Sixth session (fulfillment of orders): some simultaneous orders are given to the child and he should perform them
precisely.
Seventh session (showing movie): some short movies are shown to the child. After finishing the movie, the child
does the behaviors by recalling and rebuilding the same patterns.
Eighth session (recognition memory): pictures of children, animals, fruits and objects are shown to the children and
they should identify them after a few seconds.
Ninth session (recalling memory): stories are read for the children in a few minutes (maximum three minutes) and
the child should restate them.
Tenth session (long-term memory): children are asked to recall events happened in 24 hours before in detail.
Eleventh session (list of learning): children are asked to memorize a list of words prepared before and remember
them. Moreover, they should restate the sentences presented in the classroom by the trainer.
Twelfth session (practice): an overview of the contents of the previous session and playing with cards and words
and recognition of presented words among a set of cards (the session is aimed to strengthen data maintenance in the
absence of assignments).
Thirteenth session (rehearsal techniques): training rehearsal techniques (frequent reading and frequent writing).
Fourteenth session (rehearsal techniques): continue of training rehearsal techniques (frequent reading and
frequent writing).
Fifteenth session (practice): an overview of the contents of the previous session and continue of training rehearsal
techniques.
Research Instruments
4.
Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Revised- Fourth Edition (WISC-IV): the scale is the revised form of the third
edition (1991) developed by Wechsler for children between the age of 6 and 16 in 2003. Wechsler intelligence scale (4
th
edition) provides four scale scores including verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and
processing speed. The scale was normalized by Abedi (2008) for an Iranian sample. The validity of the subscales was
between 0.65 and 0.95 and split-half reliability coefficients were reported between 0.71 and 0.86. Wechsler Intelligence
Scale for Children (4
th
edition) was employed in the present investigation in order to evaluate intelligence and working
memory in the two groups.
Reading disorder test: in order to recognize dyslexic students, we used reading disorder test of Nesfat et al.
(2001). Based on the test, three major clinical features including reading errors (eliminating, adding, moving, altering and
reverse reading), reading speed and reading comprehension of students with dyslexia were evaluated. In addition, a
score was assigned to each of the errors and the summation is considered as the total error of the participants. A score is
also considered for answering to each of the questions in reading comprehension. Eventually, the time the participants
spent from beginning to end of the test (in second) is the reading speed. The reliability and validity are 0.92 and 0.76,
respectively.
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Table 1. Results of covariance analysis of reading performance of the third grade high school students in pre-test and
post-test
Resources Sum of squares DOFMean of squares FSig. level Test powe
r
Pre-test 36.65136.5111.140.0010.81
Group 11.77111.9575.100.0010.88
Error 25.892925.32
Total 80.2231
The results demonstrated that there was no significant difference between the mean of reading test scores of students
before presenting the independent variable (training working memory) but there was significant difference between the
scores after presenting the independent variable.
Table 2. Results of covariance analysis of reading performance of the third grade high school students after 4 month
Resources Sum of squares DOF Mean of squares FSig. level Test powe
r
Pre-test 0.0210.020.260.40.74
Group 15.02114.91230.420.0010.96
Erro
r
1.68290.07
Total 16.4731
As it demonstrated in table 2, there was significant difference between the control group and experimental group,
therefore, it can be stated that students' performance improved through the impact of training working memory and this
improvement was significant.
Table 3. Results of covariance analysis of depression of the third grade high school students in pre-test and post-test
Resources Sum of squares DOFMean of squares FSig. levelTest powe
r
Pre-test 10.39111.181.260.0030.91 Group 69.45169.95230.420.00010.85 Erro
r
26.13 29 0.89
Total 120.8531
According to the previous table, the scores are significant in pre-test and post-test, so the research hypothesis based on
that reading performance improvement leads to reduction of depression in students is approved.
Table 4. Results of covariance analysis of depression of the third grade high school students after 4 month
Resources Sum of squares DOFMean of squares FSig. levelTest powe
r
Pre-test 2.6512.791.840.180.88 Group 24.35124.9817.550.00010.86 Erro
r
40.09291.44
Total 71.2531
According to table 4, it can be concluded that the results were stable after 4 month and there was a significant
relationship between the two groups in the amount of reduction of depression.
Conclusion
5.
The purpose of the present investigation was studying the effectiveness of teaching working memory on reading
performance improvement and reduction of depression in students with dyslexia. The findings demonstrated that learning
working memory strategies has significant impact on reading performance improvement and reduction in symptoms of
depression. Since students with dyslexia experience a higher rate of depressive disorder compared to healthy students,
reduction in depression was expected with the improvement of reading performance of dyslexic students, which the result
was the same and in line with other related investigations.
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The other investigations indicate that the capacity of the memory could be extended after education and learning.
Interventions for working memory are based on teaching strategies related to the memory (Olson et al., 2004). Mir Mahdi
et al. (2009) studied the impact of teaching executional functions including working memory in children with disability in
reading and mathematics. The results demonstrated that their performance improved after finishing the course and
following-up. According to the results, it can be concluded that teaching strategies related to working memory can reduce
problems associated with dyslexic students and symptoms of depression. On other words, children should have mastery
over a set of skills in order to have mastery over reading assignments. These skills are cognitive-neural aspects such as
working memory and consideration. Acquisition of these skills is possible through experience, education and learning.
Most of the children perform such skills automatically, but children with dyslexia learn these skills difficultly and they
should be taught. Teaching such skills leads to strengthening visual-spatial, verbal and … working memory and also
leads to improvement and enhancement of learning performance in students. Therefore, teaching working memory leads
to improvement of reading problems, especially in the field of reading comprehension.
Identification of problems students with reading disabilities deal with in cognitive-neural aspects including working
memory can help the department of education to realize the problem and design appropriate education plan. According to
the impact of teaching working memory strategies on improvement of reading performance and reduction of symptoms of
depression in students with reading disability, it can be concluded that paying attention to working memory could be
effective in treatment of learning disability like infrastructure skill of reading.
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