Last Update: 05/09/2007 Printer Friendly Printer Friendly   Email This Page Email This Page  

Reading, Writing, and Related Learning Disabilities

This program focuses on developing and supporting research and training initiatives to increase knowledge relevant to normal and atypical development of reading and written language abilities throughout the life course and the development of prevention, remediation, and instructional approaches and methods to build these abilities. Consistent with these broad aims and the application of a life course approach to these topics, this program includes a focus on reading and writing development for all ages from preschool through early adulthood. Topics related to preschool literacy may be included in this program, the Early Learning and School Readiness or the Language, Bilingualism and Biliteracy research programs, depending on focus. Of specific interest are the development and validation of measurement tools on related skills for all groups. An overall goal of this extramural research program is to ensure robust development of reading and written language skills at different stages of development.

Reading Development. This programmatic emphasis encourages longitudinal and cross-sectional studies that delineate the relative contributions of environmental, experiential, instructional, cognitive, linguistic, genetic, and neurobiological contributions to the developmental reading process and the longitudinal course of typical reading development across the life course. Of particular interest are studies that seek to identify the interactions among these factors at different stages of reading development.

Reading Disorders. Studies are encouraged that seek to identify the genetic, biological, cognitive, linguistic, experiential, and instructional factors, and the interactions among these factors that impede reading acquisition, as well as work on the definition and classification of possible subtypes of reading disabilities, and how such findings would inform the development and effective implementation of interventions. Multidisciplinary studies that integrate genetic, neuroimaging, cognitive/behavioral, and intervention studies are of particular interest.

Written Language Development and Disorders. This programmatic emphasis encourages cognitive, behavioral, instructional, and neurobiological studies that focus on normal and atypical development in the areas of orthographic processing, spelling, written composition, written expression, knowledge transformation, meta-cognitive skills, and compositional fluency. Investigations that focus on delineating specific relationships between oral language, reading, and written language skills are particularly encouraged.

Prevention, Early Intervention, and Remediation of Learning Disabilities and Disorders. This programmatic emphasis encourages the development and implementation of instructional intervention and remediation approaches and methods to prevent and/or ameliorate deficits in reading and written language. Within this context, the development of reliable and valid quantitative and qualitative measurement instruments and measurement strategies to identify children at risk for failure in these academic domains is highly encouraged, as are measurement tools and approaches that can assess growth over time and in response to interventions. Longitudinal studies are of interest as are studies that integrate cognitive, behavioral, and neuroimaging measures to assess individual difference variables before, during, and following intervention.

Adolescent Literacy. Research in this area builds on the reading and reading disabilities research in younger children, as well as on the research on bilingual literacy. There is notable disparity among subgroups, with both ethnic and language-minority adolescents exhibiting greater rates of reading and writing difficulties. Longitudinal and cross-sectional multidisciplinary biobehavioral studies of literacy, learning, and learning difficulties, instruction and intervention, and the contextual and environmental factors affecting these are encouraged. The use of novel designs and methods and the development of innovative ways to study this challenging group of students are sought. In addition, the establishment of reliable and valid measurement strategies and instruments, to identify critical etiological factors (cognitive, linguistic, genetic, neurobiological, experiential) associated with reading and writing disabilities in adolescents, are encouraged, as is the development of well-defined, evidence-based interventions.

Adult and Family Literacy. This focal area encourages studies that address language and literacy skills in the late adolescent and adult period, including how best to identify and intervene with low literate individuals in this age group and the development of effective, research-based assessment and intervention methods. Areas of interest include measurement, assessment, instructional methods, and instructor training and development. Specific methods for increasing the functional English literacy of non-native speakers of English is an area of special interest. In addition, the program will support studies that address the special challenge of family literacy and parent-child interaction, especially those that focus on the development of both functional literacy in the parent and early literacy skills in the preschool child. This focus includes research into the impact on parent-child interactions and early childhood literacy of adult-focused reading and writing interventions.

Research Training. Of significant interest to this program is pre-and post-doctoral research training, including institutional training programs and individual fellowships in the area of literacy with an emphasis on the integration and application of theoretical and conceptual principles derived from psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, developmental cognitive neuroscience, reading education, and quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.


Contact: Brett Miller