Developing a Sense of Dyslexic Identity Robert Burden, PhD, FBPsS Emeritus Professor of Applied Educational Psychology, University of Exeter June 2009
Basic aspects of socio-cultural theory • based upon the writing of Lev Vygotsky • focuses upon the construction of knowledge through social interaction • emphasises the importance of cultural and social background • Identifies the use of psychological tools (particularly language) • highlights the role of mediation • has been extended in specific ways be Feuerstein et al and more recently by activity theorists.
Learning Firstly, that all learning includes two essentially different types of process, namely an external interaction process between the learner and his or her social, cultural and material environment, and an internal psychological process of acquisition and elaboration in which new impulses are connected with the results of prior learning.
Secondly, that all learning includes three dimensions, namely, the cognitive dimension of knowledge and skills, the psychodynamic dimension of motivation and emotions , and the social dimension of communication and co- operation - all of which are embedded in a societally situated context.
Teaching and learning environment Teaching process Nature of curriculum tasks: Class based, ‘authentic’ Cooperative… Student (s) characteristics Strengths and weaknesses: Cognitive, emotional, social…
Terminology relating to research on self concept • self-concept (general) – GSC • self-concept (specific) – ASC, SSC, PSC etc • self-esteem (global) – GSE • self-efficacy (SE) • learned helplessness (LH) • locus of control (LoC) • attribution theory (AT) • identity
Summary of research findings on the relationship between dyslexia/learning disabilities and aspects of the self concept GSC – little evidence of strong association ASC – considerable evidence of strong association SSC – variable evidence of possible association GSE – variable evidence of potential (and changing) association
Dweck’s definition of self-esteem “Self esteem is not an internal quality fed by easy success and diminished by failure. It is a positive way of experiencing yourself when you are fully engaged and are using your ability to the utmost in the pursuit of something of value.” C Dweck (2000)
Self-Efficacy “People’s level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively true” A Bandura (1997, p2) “Agent causation involves the ability to behave differently from what environment forces dictate rather than inevitably yield to them” A Bandura (1997, p.7)
Learned helplessness “the giving up reaction, the quitting response that follows from belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter” Seligman (1991:15) “A pessimistic explanatory style is at the core of depressive thinking. A negative concept of the future, the self, and the world stems from seeing the causes of bad events as permanent, pervasive and personal, and seeing the causes of good events in the opposite way.” Seligman (1991:58)
Locus of Control Locus of control refers to whether people make sense of what happens in their lives in terms of their feelings of internal control and responsibility or as being at the mercy of powerful external forces. It is generally considered (and supported by research) that internal LoC is most closely associated with success in academic and wider life experiences.
Locus of Causality People can be divided in terms of the degree to which they see themselves as ‘origins’, capable of generating new ideas and finding their own solutions to the problems they meet, or ‘pawns’, unable to solve problems without being directed by others. ‘Origins’ have a strong locus of causality, whereas ‘pawns’ do not.
Attribution Theory Attribution theory is concerned with the reasons that people construct for themselves for their perceived successes and failures in life.
Attribution Theory A person’s attributions may be • global or specific • internal or external • fixed or changeable • controlled or uncontrolled
The Dyslexia Identity Scale Consists of 25 items aimed at exploring how it feels to be dyslexic. Four main areas are covered: • Self-efficacy/locus of control e.g. If I try hard I can achieve as much as anyone else. How well I do in the future is up to me. • Learned helplessness e.g. I will always be held back by my dyslexic difficulties.
The Dyslexia Identity Scale • Depression e.g. Being dyslexic really bothers me. • Feelings of being understood e.g. Only another dyslexic person can really understand how it feels to be dyslexic. Source: Burden, R.L. (2005) Dyslexia and Self-Concept. Wiley
Pre requisites for academic success • a positive attitude towards the subject or topic • a strong intention to do well at it • an accurate perception of one’s strengths and weaknesses as a learner • a sense of general capability as a learner • a more fundamental sense of feeling ‘OK’ as a person (self worth)
Pre requisites for academic success (cont) • positive feeling of self-efficacy when faced with academic tasks • a strong sense of internal locus of control • effort (rather than ability) based attributions for success and failure on academic tasks • access to generic cognitive skills and strategies appropriate for the tasks at hand * All the of the above need to be related to a sound knowledge base.