1st May 2021
Another new month, new beginnings and possibilities. The garden is changing everyday which I enjoy. Change? Are you a person who embraces ‘change’ or fears it? Or a bit of both, depending on the type of change?
On the One Show this week there was an interesting segment presented by the author/poet and dyslexic, Benjamin Zephaniah.
It highlighted a change in science and technology which could help identify children who are struggling readers and provide information on appropriate interventions.
Mattias Nilsson Benfatto and Öqvist Seimyr founded ‘lexplore’, based on research which originated 30 years age. They have retrieved the research data from the archives and have continued with the studies using new methods of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence.
The product/service available is a method of quantifying visual information processing in children using eye tracking.
I would refer you to one of my previous posts for more information on Visual processing issues.
The report by Benjamin Zephaniah introduced the new software as a quick and useful tool, especially in the present circumstances with children having had a years worth of work full of disruptions. To screen all children to see their present reading ability and to highlight any areas of concern which need intervention.
The research paper, by the founders of Lexplore, in 2016 was titled ‘Screening for dyslexia using eye tracking during reading’. But as explained in the televised report on the One Show, could be useful to pinpoint all children’s current ability and to see if the pandemic disruptions have caused any issues.
One of the advantages of this software is its speed of completion. Instead of the time consuming screening types that are already available, this test involves children reading 2 passages with accompanying comprehension questions which can take approximately 5 minutes each pupil.
The results of the test gives teachers; a percentile score, a reading age, a year level equivalent and a standardised score. It also provides a ‘sticky word list’ for each child based on their fixation time. This can identify difficult graphemes/phonenes or word families which need to be addressed.
Lexplore Intensive, is also available to provide an interventions package to be worked on at school and at home.
Not only will it identify barriers to learning for dyslexics and struggling readers but it can identify a ‘stealth dyslexic’. A person who has developed coping strategies whilst reading and therefore does not automatically come across as a lower ability reader. Therefore, could pass under the School’s SEN radar and never receive the support which they require with more evident problems arising further up in school when reading gets more complex.
For Primary children approaching exams, it could highlight the children who need extra time. Together with the more able readers who tend to skim read with the possibility of missing out on important information.
Andrea Welter, Assistant head at Elston Hall Multi-academy Trust says in her testimonial:
“The test has also uncovered pupils with undiagnosed eyesight or vision issues.”
A further study in 2016 by Kooiker et al. looked into identifying visual problems, strengths and weaknesses of Oculomotor and Visual function using eye tracking.
Lexplore Analytics say:
“By measuring when, where, and how a students eyes move in relation to the words that they are reading, the assessment quickly analyses their skills across reading components, determines their attainment and highlights potential barriers.”
The screening products/services were originally used in Sweden in 2015, moving to US in 2017 and quickly onto the UK in 2018.
It has been seen generally that a lower ability reader’s eyes tend to move much slower and fixate on individual words or go backwards. A higher ability child’s eyes move through the text with short, quick movements.
The use of technology is helping teachers see what the child is seeing, and how that is processed.
The founders of Lexplore do agree that fundamentally dyslexia is a language based learning difference but feel that their research results suggest that eye movements in reading can be highly predictive of reading ability.
They confirm that it is important to note that their approach is NOT driven by the assumption that dyslexia is caused by a deficit in visual perception or oculomotor control.
This screening is initially for identification purposes. It is so important to follow that identification with a full diagnostic assessment to get a more comprehensive view of the child’s learning strengths and weaknesses.
For more information on the screening and intervention packages visit their website. https://www.lexplore.com/gb/about-us-2/
This is a commercial business of which I have no direct or indirect involvement with. But business aside, I would like to point out their work with the charity LING Project (Literacy In Northern Ghana). This non profit organisation travels North Ghana using the Lexplore’s rapid reading assessment to raise reading attainment amongst the female population. A worthwhile cause.
So where do you stand in the advancement of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence? Do you embrace the change in the educational setting or fear it?
Until next week, take care and enjoy the changes that spring brings.