Developmental changes in reading do not alter the development of visual processing skills: An application of explanatory item response models in grades K-2

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Abstract

© 2015 Santi, Kulesz, Khalaf and Francis. Visual processing has been widely studied in regard to its impact on a students' ability to read. A less researched area is the role of reading in the development of visual processing skills. A cohort-sequential, accelerated-longitudinal design was utilized with 932 kindergarten, first, and second grade students to examine the impact of reading acquisition on the processing of various types of visual discrimination and visual motor test items. Students were assessed four times per year on a variety of reading measures and reading precursors and two popular measures of visual processing over a 3-year period. Explanatory item response models were used to examine the roles of person and item characteristics on changes in visual processing abilities and changes in item difficulties over time. Results showed different developmental patterns for five types of visual processing test items, but most importantly failed to show consistent effects of learning to read on changes in item difficulty. Thus, the present study failed to find support for the hypothesis that learning to read alters performance on measures of visual processing. Rather, visual processing and reading ability improved together over time with no evidence to suggest cross-domain influences from reading to visual processing. Results are discussed in the context of developmental theories of visual processing and brain-based research on the role of visual skills in learning to read.

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Santi, K. L., Kulesz, P. A., Khalaf, S., & Francis, D. J. (2015). Developmental changes in reading do not alter the development of visual processing skills: An application of explanatory item response models in grades K-2. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(FEB). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00116

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