Reading and oral comprehension skills in high-achieving university students with dyslexia

Reading and oral comprehension skills in high-achieving university students with dyslexia

First Author: Hélène Brèthes -- LPC Marseille, UMR7290, Marseille 13000. France
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose – Developmental dyslexia is characterized by persistent deficits in decoding, reading fluency and phonological processing. However, some dyslexics manage to succeed at university. According to recent findings, reading comprehension skills of university students with dyslexia seem preserved, but very little is known as concerned with oral comprehension skills. The aims of this study were 1) to investigate for the first time the oral comprehension skills of French-speaking university students with dyslexia and 2) to investigate and compare both literal and implicit processing related to reading and oral comprehension skills in this population.
Method –Tasks assessing both reading and oral comprehension, using multiple-choice and open-ended questions related to both literal processing (based on the explicit content of text) and inferential processing (based on the implicit content of text), along with tasks assessing phonological and decoding skills (reading word and pseudoword, phonemic awareness, phonological short-term memory) were administered to 40 dyslexic and 58 non-dyslexic university students.
Results – Results confirmed the persistence of deficits in phonological abilities. However, on oral comprehension tasks (both inferential and literal processing) the two groups performed at the same level. Interestingly, on reading comprehension skills, whereas the two groups performed at the same level in task assessing literal processing, dyslexics outperformed their chronological age controls in task assessing inferential processing.
Conclusions – Dyslexic students seem to have implemented compensatory strategies related to inferential processing skills that probably allow them to access the content of the text despite persistent phonological processing deficits. Discussion will focus on theoretical and educational implications.