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The Difficulties Dyslexic Students Experience Using Calculators

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1 The Difficulties Dyslexic Students Experience Using Calculators
By Clare Trott and Nigel Beacham Mathematics Education Centre Loughborough University HELM conference Thursday 15th September 2005

2 Introduction University proposed restricting range of calculators used in examinations Proposed ‘approved list’ included: Casio FX83 series Casio FX85 series Sharp EL531 series Texas Instruments TI-30 series

3 Dyslexic Difficulties and Calculators
Short-Term Memory Poor sequencing Symbolic processing Visual perceptual difficulties

4 Features to Consider Position of buttons Button size, shape, colour
Position and range of functions Colours of text Font and size of text Screen, size, font, colour Background colour, contrast

5 Case Study Dyslexic student lost calculator used since early school days Replaced with new model, as old model no longer available Caused anxiety No recommendations re suitable calculators available

6 Aims of Project Investigate and evaluate the range of currently available 2-line calculators Recommendations for dyslexics Draw up approved list for exams To then carry out a series of experiments observing and timing students using familiar and unfamiliar calculators. Compared the performance of dyslexics and non-dyslexics.

7 4 Phases Phase One Background research Literature search
Contacting others in the field Initial investigation Collecting information on 2-line calculators Initial evaluation by project team

8 Phase Two Pilot study - dyslexic students evaluating some 2-line calculators Phase Three Main research - trials comparing an unfamiliar provided calculator with students’ own familiar calculator Phase Four Further investigations - close observation of small 3 dyslexic students using 2 unfamiliar calculators

9 Phase 1 Evaluation Methodology 11 dyslexic students 4 calculators
Which would you buy and why? Evaluation 8 selected FX85 10 background colour 8 familiarity Button size, background contrast, power source

10 Casio FX85 Looks standard, efficient, familiar Dark background
Lettering clear Shape, size good Brand name

11 Sharp VH Softer buttons Poor visual Orange shift Light background
White numbers Poor contrast

12 Sharp WB-WH Larger screen Larger screen font Cluttered, fussy
Too many visuals Green, orange lettering Screen glare

13 Texet Albert 3 Small, lightweight Small buttons Cramped
Yellowish screen Too dotty Brand name Blue but transparent

14 Phase 2/3 Methodology 2 very similar tests written
22 questions on each, no words Range of mathematics applicable to 1st yr engineers Shorter familiarisation task written same functions as main tests Tests were timed End completion of questionnaire about their experience

15 Model P Test B Test A Familiarisation Unfamiliar Familiar Exercise
Calculator Calculator Model Q Test A Test B Familiarisation Unfamiliar Familiar Exercise Calculator Calculator Unfamiliar Calculator: Casio FX85

16 Sample 1st year engineering students, not with Casio FX82, 83 or 85
Participants identified as dyslexic and non-dyslexic Participants randomly divided into two groups: Model P Model Q

17 Results 1 - Time Time difference = Unfamiliar Time – Familiar Time
Non-dyslexic = –153 seconds Dyslexic = –59.5 seconds Familiar > Unfamiliar Learning Effect, increasing speed Learning Effect greater for non-dyslexics

18 Results 2 - Time Time difference = Unfamiliar Time – Familiar Time
Non-dyslexic = seconds, Familiar < Unfamiliar, Learning Effect Dyslexic = –24 seconds Familiar > Unfamiliar, Priming Effect

19 Learning Effect = Average of the median time differences Non-dyslexics = 157 seconds Dyslexics = 18 seconds Calculator Effect (adjusted Time Differences) Non-dyslexics 4 seconds longer with unfamiliar Dyslexics 42 seconds less with unfamiliar

20 Results 3 - Scores Score difference
= Unfamiliar Score – Familiar Score Non-dyslexic = 1 mark Dyslexic = 1 mark Unfamiliar > Familiar Learning Effect, increasing scores

21 Results 4 - Scores Score difference
= Unfamiliar Score – Familiar Score Non-dyslexic = 0.5 marks Unfamiliar > Familiar, Carelessness set in Dyslexic = –1 mark Unfamiliar < Familiar, Learning Effect, Automaticity

22 Learning Effect = Average of the median score differences Non-dyslexics = 0.75 marks Dyslexics = 1 mark Calculator Effect (adjusted Score Differences) Non-dyslexics 0.25 marks more with unfamiliar Dyslexics 0 marks, same score

23 Phase 4 Methodology 3 dyslexics unfamiliar calculator, Aurora SC582
video

24 Student A Pauses “Hovering Finger” Key positions not in WM Sequencing, cannot locate numerical keys Student B Difficulty locating keys Increasing frustration, stress, stop

25 Guidelines Background colour
Dark, opaque, not metallic or transparent. Blue = optimum colour. Background contrast Keys clearly visible against backgrounds. Button size and shape Large, regular Font type and colour primary and secondary fns in large clear fonts. Avoid colours like orange

26 Layout Uncluttered. Avoid too many second/third functions Screen Large, Good contrast between background and digits, smooth pixel display not reflective. Coloured screens If available (not red) Symbols familiar symbols e.g. ^ or yx

27 Contact Details Clare Trott (Mathematics Learning Support Tutor, Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University, Nigel Beacham (Research Fellow, Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University, DDIG website:


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