Literacy difficulties in Higher Education: identifying students’ needs with a Hybrid Model

Georgia Niolaki, Laura Taylor, Aris Terzopoulos, Rachael Davies

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Aims: Studies on literacy difficulties have mainly focused on children or adults who have a diagnosis of dyslexia. Some students enter university without such a diagnosis, but with literacy difficulties, and this may impact their ability to become independent learners and achieve academically. This exploratory study aims to employ a Hybrid Model for developing profiles for such individuals. The Hybrid Model encompasses the Causal Modelling Framework (CMF) (Morton & Frith, 1993), the proximal and distal causes of literacy difficulties (Jackson & Coltheart, 2001) and the conceptual framework for identification of dyslexia (Reid & Came, 2009). Method: In this multiple case study design, three young adults with literacy difficulties were interviewed. Using narrative analysis, we compared the cases’ responses with the responses of a matched control student without literacy difficulties. Findings: The main findings of the comparison suggested that the proposed Hybrid Model could be an effective way to highlighting potential obstacles to learning in those with literacy difficulties and would, therefore, be an invaluable tool for Educational Psychologists who work in adult educational settings. Limitations: This is an exploratory study based on multiple case studies. A group study with more individuals should be conducted in order to further validate the proposed Hybrid Model. Conclusions: The current study highlights the importance of understanding the psychosocial, as well as the cognitive and biological aspects of literacy difficulties, without claiming generalisability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-92
Number of pages13
JournalEducational and Child Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2020

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  • Higher education
  • Identification
  • Learning support
  • Literacy difficulties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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