Until 2008 SuperReading had shown
amazing results, but had not been tested
by independent, professional researchers.
84% of the dyslexic students finished with
higher scores than university professors.
Subsequent courses saw all graduates
scoring higher than non-dyslexic students
without SuperReading. The Italian study
also showed the same results, both
before and after translation into Italian. .
Dr. Cooper applied rigorous statistical
analysis to our testing methodology. His
control group of professors actually scored
lower over time. It was expected they could
have improved due to testing familiarity.
They did not. They received the same
instruction as the learning group on their first
day before any tools were taught. This ruled
out any increases due to chance or knowing
what to expect
LSBU PAPER by Dr. Ross Cooper
Draft Paper submitted to the Journal of Inclusive Practice in FE & HE
Vol 1 Number 2 (Spring 2009)
The aim of this study was to gauge whether the impact of a reading
course for degree level adult dyslexic readers (n=15) was sufficiently
robust to justify more extensive research and experimentation. While
recognising the limitations of this pilot research and the methodological
difficulties of measuring ‘comprehension’ gains, the ‘reading
effectiveness’ of the group appeared to double in ten weeks. A t-test
provided a statistical significance of p<0.002. There was also a
statistically significant negative correlation between pre-course TOWRE
nonword test scores and the percentage improvement in reading
effectiveness. This is surprising and worthy of further investigation in
itself, since we might normally predict that those with the most
phonological difficulties are likely to make the least progress, not the
most. All the participants were enthusiastic about the positive impact of
the course on their reading and report a range of affects such as
increased stability of print, pleasure and speed of reading. We can
conclude that the apparent effect, and the nature of the correlation
between the effect and difficulty reading nonwords, is sufficient to justify
further research and experimentation.
INTRODUCTION BACK TO TOP
This research trial arose in a specific context. Ron Cole approached
LLU+ after teaching his ‘Super Reading’ course for fifteen years with the
observation that dyslexic readers appeared to make the most progress.
The intention was to begin to evaluate this observation and to try to
understand the experience of dyslexic readers on his course. I was
particularly interested in his unusual approach to teaching reading
improvement, because it was based on an eye exercise.
The specific purpose of the trial was to gauge whether there was a
measurable impact on dyslexic readers that would justify further
investigation, investment and collaboration.
This led to a set of research questions:
1. How can we measure improvements in comprehension as well as
2. To what extent might a visual approach to reading overcome
3. How might readers with visual processing and tracking difficulties
experience a visual approach to reading?
4. To what extent are existing tools to measure reading inappropriate?
5. Might the focus on what is easy to measure have misled researchers
away from what is important about the nature of reading?
Of all these questions, the most methodologically difficult is how to
measure improvements in comprehension when we know that a great
many factors are involved (Ellis, 1993), including :
level of tiredness, or stress
difficulty of the text
speed of reading
reading styles & strategies
culture background and knowledge of schema & genre
Colour of paper and text
Since all the participants were undergraduates, or postgraduates, the
texts used to measure comprehension were at an advanced level and
there was no differentiation for any difficulties with reading or visual
stress. Since four of the participants were below 16th percentile for all
four standardised measures of reading prior to the course (WRAT4 single
word and comprehension and TOWRE single words) and only two were
above the 16th percentile for all four measures, this seemed a very
We made the following predictions:
1. Reading effectiveness would double if the participants practiced ‘eye-
hops’ for half an hour a day.
2. The WRAT single word reading and TOWRE nonword reading scores
are likely to remain static over the same time period
3. WRAT comprehension scores are likely to rise, but as these are
untimed sentence level cloze tests, the rise may be minimal
4. The time taken to do reading tests is likely to fall.
5. TOWRE sight recognition scores may improve due to increased speed
of visual recognition.
These predictions are predicated on the contention that existing
standardised tests are poor measures of real reading (Hansen et al,
1998); that this trial is likely to highlight the inadequacies of the
assessment tools as much as the impact of the course.
I had hypothesised that those with poor reading skills (four of whom were
also bilingual learners) would be unlikely to make as much progress as
those with more advanced reading skills (and the advantage of English
being their first language). This view was not shared by Ron Cole.
METHODOLOGY BACK TO TOP
The course began with 20 participants. For the purposes of this project,
we defined those who were 'compensating' for their dyslexia by pre-
course standardised scores on the WRAT lying within an 'average range'
(even for the range of scores representing a 95% confidence interval).
Mean pre-course WRAT scores
Participating 108 109
Non-Participating 84 84
All Participants 96.5 98.6
Twelve of the participants fell into the ‘compensating’ category (although
eight of them achieved scores on the TOWRE below the 16th percentile).
Eight participants can be categorised as the ‘non- compensating’ group.
Four of the ‘non-compensating’ group were also bilingual.
Selection of subjects
London South Bank University Centre for Learning Support &
Development emailed all dyslexic students on their database, letting them
know that a free reading course was available as part of pilot research.
The timing of the course, in the lead up to the summer exams, was not
ideal. All interested participants with a diagnosis of dyslexia who were
available at the specified times were accepted onto the course. Sixteen
students were enrolled onto the course through this means. Four dyslexic
staff at LLU+ were also invited onto the course.
Four of the students dropped out of the course after the first session.
Only one of these drop outs responded to requests to discuss the
reasons. There were three:
she felt very uncomfortable being 'tested' in a group.
she had felt overwhelmed by the first session and uncertain about what
'instructions' she might have missed.
she was already overloaded by course work and did not find any time to
practice the 'eye-hops' between the first and second session.
However, in a post-course interview, she expressed the view that she felt
that the techniques she had learned, had she had time to practice them,
were 'probably beneficial'.
One of the invited dyslexic professionals (an assistive technology tutor)
dropped out on the birth of his daughter. He also expressed the view that
the course was 'useful'.
The ‘Super Reading’ course
The course was taught entirely by Ron Cole over six three-hour sessions.
The sessions were held once every two weeks. Participants were taught
a range of skills and practices including how to practice 'eye-hops', how
previewing and reviewing reading was beneficial, the importance of using
their finger to track text and a memory technique. The sessions were
intended to be motivational and enjoyable which may have produced a
‘Hawthorne’ effect (Sprott, 1952). Comprehension was always prioritised
over speed. The instruction, ‘read this as fast as you can while fully
understanding it’ was therefore an instruction often repeated.
Participants were asked to agree to practice the eye-hop exercises for a
minimum of half an hour a day. In the post course interviews, it became
clear that very few participants managed this. We averaged around 15
minutes a day.
Within each session, participants tested their reading with prepared texts
and comprehension questions. 'Reading Effectiveness (RE)' was
calculated by multiplying the words per minute by the percentage of
correct answers given to the questions. The methodological implications
are discussed below.
BACK TO TOP
The testing process during the course was as follows:
1. Participants were asked to read the test texts as quickly as they could
while fully comprehending them.
2. At an agreed moment, test texts were turned face side up, but not yet
3. At a further agreed moment, participants began to read their text as a
large digital clock began timing on the smart board.
4. As soon as they had finished reading, participants turned over their
texts and recorded the time taken to read it.
5. They then turned over the questions and answered them as fully as
they could, before turning the questions back over.
6. Once everyone had completed this, at an agreed moment, the process
started again, the texts were reviewed, a second time taken was
recorded and a second comprehension score recorded.
7. Participants were then helped to calculate their words per minute and
reading effectiveness for ‘first’ and ‘review’ reading.
All test texts were exactly 400 words long. They included large numbers
of numerical and other details that were often included in the questions.
During the process, Ron Cole watched carefully for anyone forgetting to
check the time, so that timing errors could be reduced. From session two,
participants were invited to preview the text for up to the first 30 seconds
of reading time during the first read through. This time is included in all
calculations of words per minute. For the purposes of the research, all
calculations of reading effectiveness were checked.
All test texts were randomised during the length of the course so that
intrinsic difficulties of particular texts, or the questions, could not play a
role in the apparent development of reading effectiveness progress.
There was no differentiation of texts for readers of different 'ability'.
BACK TO TOP
Pre & post tests
All participants were given a range of reading tests before and after the
course. Standardised tests were chosen that could be administered twice
to check on 'progress': WRAT4 Reading & Comprehension, TOWRE
Sight and Nonwords. These tests are not without limitations and
methodological difficulties. All have been standardised on USA
populations which makes it difficult to interpret the results meaningfully.
The TOWRE has only been standardised up to the age of 25 and the
average age of the participants on the course was 41. This means that
the scores must be treated with caution, although the primary purpose of
using these tests was to look at comparative results rather than absolute
Another methodological problem is that these tests are not good tests of
reading, particularly the single word tests, since reading words in
combination is very different from single word reading (Ellis, 1993,
Tadlock & Stone, 2005).
The time taken to administer the WRAT4 was recorded because we had
predicted that the time taken would change from pre to post course. It
was explained to participants that the WRAT4 was 'not a timed test, but I
am going to time it to gather more information'. Since the TOWRE is
timed, it was hypothesised that the TOWRE sight word scores would rise
to reflect the additional speed. Since reading in context provides a range
of semantic and syntactical cues to support word recognition, the
increased understanding predicted when reading was not necessarily
expected to improve single word recognition.
The WRAT comprehension test is clearly intended as a reading
comprehension test. However, it has a number of flaws. Comprehension
is limited to sentence level, rather than discourse. More importantly, it
presents 'word finding' problems (Wolf & Bowers,2000) that often
overshadow comprehension. Most of the participants reported that the
main difficulty was finding the right word to fit the space. For the four
bilingual learners and one of the non-bilingual learners, finding
grammatically acceptable words was also reported as a major problem.
Using a similar test twice can be methodologically problematic for two
distinct reasons. The first is that the testee has a better understanding of
the nature of the test, and has practiced whatever skill is required. The
second is more relevant to children than adults, since we can expect a
child to have made progress in their reading skills without any additional
intervention in the intervening time. This temporal effect can also apply to
bilingual learners, although in this case, all 4 bilingual learners had been
learning English for a minimum of 7 years, so a 10 week period is unlikely
to account for any change. The WRAT4 manual claims that test re- test
scores can be expected to rise by 2 standardised points.
An important aspect of the research methodology was to explore the
subjective experience of the participants on the course, including my own
as a dyslexic reader. This was supported by discussing the experience of
the course and tests with participants, including two dyslexic colleagues
among the participants. It was expected that this would help provide a
range of insights that would promote a better understanding and
interpretation of the experience and of the test scores. This runs the risk
of influencing my interpretation of tests, but this risk was considered small
in an exploratory trial intended to understand the experience of learners
as much as measure their progress. Care also had to be taken that no
tests were used with which any participant was familiar. Since the
WRAT4 was a relatively new test, none of the participants were familiar
with the content except me, having begun to use WRAT4 (and TOWRE)
with learners. My own test scores on these tests were excluded from the
data. None of the other participants had any experience of the TOWRE.
One other participant was familiar using WRAT3 with learners. Some of
the participants thought that they might have used the WRAT3 as part of
their own assessment.
BACK TO TOP
Reading effectiveness, as measured, increased dramatically over the 10
weeks. All participants benefited, from a 22% to a 408% increase. On
average, RE increased by 110%. It could be hypothesised that
comprehension practice alone could improve the RE scores. However,
we would not then expect that those with the lowest test scores prior to
the course would gain the most.
It is interesting to compare those who were 'compensating' with those
that were ‘not’. Comparisons remain tentative, because the group sizes
are small (n=8+7=15). It should therefore be stressed that this
comparison is for descriptive purposes, since the differences do not
achieve statistical significance. Nevertheless, in this trial the ‘non-
compensating’ group made more progress in reading effectiveness
(expressed as a percentage) than the ‘compensating’ group (140%
compared to 80%).
Interestingly, in the first session, reading speeds changed very little for
both groups between the first reading of the test text and the review
FIRST SESSION: wpm (first read) Comprehension wpm on review
Compensating 215 51% 215 76%
non-compensating 108 41% 110 66%
All Participants 165 46% 110 66%
Whereas the speed changed dramatically during the test in the final
LAST SESSION: wpm (first read) Comprehension wpm on review
Compensating 228 79% 580 94%
non-compensating 179 64% 241 87%
All Participants 205 61% 91% 91%
We can also see that comprehension scores rose significantly at both
stages. By the end of the course, the ‘non-compensating’ groups’ reading
speeds and comprehension both exceeded the scores achieved by the
compensating group at the beginning of the course.
For each of the differences between pre- and post-test average scores
reported here for all participants, the statistical significance of the
difference was tested using a paired t-test. Despite having a small
sample, statistical significance was achieved for the increased
‘comprehension’ (p<0.02 at first read through, p<0.001 at review), and for
the increased speed of review (p<0.001).
At the end of the course, the ‘non-compensating’ group are reading a
mean of an additional 71 words per minute at the first read stage and
able to answer over half as many questions again. Overall the group is
reading at a mean of an additional 40 words per minute and answering a
mean of 15% more questions correctly. At the review stage, participants
are reading a mean of an additional 256 words per minute (doubling their
reading speed) and answering an additional 20% of the comprehension
Reading effectiveness scores can be calculated for both the first read
through and the review reading stages of the test, however, for the
purpose of comparison, a 'combined RE' score was calculated. This is
because the slower the reading speed at the first read through, the more
we can expect to have been understood (or memorised) and the faster
the second read through becomes (and vice versa). In other words, the
RE scores from the first read through and the review are not independent
variables. Combining them therefore provides a better measure of
progress. This was done by adding both reading times together,
calculating a 'combined wpm', and multiplying by the final comprehension
Combined RE session 1 Combined RE session 6
Compensating 80 153%
Non-compensating 36 86%
All Participants 59 118%
The improvement from session 1 to session 6 is highly significant
(p<0.002). By the end of the course, the ‘non-compensating’ group have
exceeded the original combined RE score of the 'compensating’ group.
There is also a statistically significant negative correlation between
TOWRE nonword scores and the percentage progress made (- 0.767,
p<0.01), meaning the lower the TOWRE nonword scores, the greater the
percentage gains in ‘reading efectiveness’. There is less correlation with
TOWRE sight word scores (-0.310, which is not statistically significant).
Although we expected a correlation between the reported hours of
practice and progress, there was very little correlation. However, this was
difficult to gauge. Once the participants began to use their 'pattern
reading' skills with ordinary text, their real practice times became very
difficult to report.
Pre & Post Standardised Test Scores
WRAT4 Single reading.
As predicted, the standardised scores changed very little.
Pre-coure test Post course re-test
Compensating 107.7 116.4
Non-compensating 83.6 78.3
All Participants 96.5 98.6
Overall, the 'compensating' group achieved their higher mean test result
(+0.58 SD) in 82% of the time of the pre-course test. The non-
compensating group achieved their lower mean test result (-0.35 SD) in
just 33% of the time of the pre-course test.
Dealing with such small numbers can be misleading. The combined
results of all participants show a mean rise of 2.1 in standardised score,
which is consistent with test/re-test expectations.
WRAT Reading Comprehension
These scores remained stable over the 10 weeks.
Pre-coure test Post course re-test
Compensating 109.1 106.1
Non-compensating 84 84.4
All Participants 96.6 95.3
Overall, the mean standardised score changed from 96.6 to 95.3, while
participants took 80% of the time for the re-test than was taken for the
BACK TO TOP
As the TOWRE subtests are sensitive to reading speed, we expected the
sight word scores to increase, but not the nonword scores.
TOWRE sight word
Pre-course test Post-course test
Compensating 90.2 97.2
Non-compensating 69.5 75.5
All Participants 79.8 86.3
Pre-coure test Post course re-test
Compensating 9.9 95.9
Non-compensating 71 73.7
All Participants 81.6 85.5
BACK TO TOP
Since the calculation of 'reading effectiveness' is dependent on both
speed and the percentage of correct answers given to the questions,
‘reading effectiveness’ inevitably includes arbitrary elements. How might
a reader have answered a different set of questions? How might their
comprehension be affected by their interest in the subject matter, their
prior knowledge, their vocabulary? These are difficult questions to
address and are best handled by a larger sample than available in this
trial. The scale of the apparent gains, their statistical significance and the
subjective experience of increased reading speeds with comprehension,
are, however, difficult to ignore.
It was also surprising to validate Ron Cole's assertion that readers with
the lowest reading scores on all measures at the beginning of the course,
made better than average progress. For example, the four bilingual
readers improved their reading effectiveness by 122%.
As already argued, reading text involves much more than phonological
decoding. The correlation of reading effectiveness (RE) improvement with
difficulties reading the TOWRE nonwords is particularly interesting and
appears to support the view that readers with phonological decoding
difficulties will make better progress by building on their strengths rather
than trying to remediate their weaknesses (Butterworth, 2002). This
interpretation of the findings would benefit from further investigation.
Pre & post test results
WRAT4 single word reading
Individual test/re-test scores, in the main, stayed within the 95%
confidence interval range between pre and post course tests.
Two of the 'compensating' group achieved test scores higher than the
95% confidence interval on the post course test (123 to 131, and 104 to
116). Both of these individuals maintained that they experienced better
print stability following the 'eye-hop' exercises.
One of the 'non- compensating’ group achieved a score below the 95%
confidence interval (87 to 76). But this score was achieved in 20% of the
time taken for the pre-course test.
The comparison between pre and post course test scores is interesting
for two reasons:
As predicted, the scores changed very little. This appears to confirm that
untimed single word reading test scores provide little meaningful
correspondence with real reading skills, (Tadlock& Stone 2005).
The second is that similar scores were achieved in only 40% of the time
taken in the pre-course test. This appears to indicate that real
improvement in tracking and visual recognition has resulted from the
intervention. It could be argued that a saving of 60% time is a valuable
gain in itself. Indeed, the ‘non-compensating’ group achieved their scores
in 33% of the time.
WRAT4 Reading Comprehension
Since this is intended as a test of comprehension, we might have
expected these test scores to rise. Consequently, this result appears to
undermine the claim of the course to improve comprehension. However,
the WRAT4 test scores are affected by both word retrieval difficulties and
grammatical expression. Participants often expressed that they
understood what they were reading, but could not think of the right word
to fit in the gap.
One of the 'compensating' group achieved a retest score below the 95%
confidence interval (128 to 117). However, this was achieved in 41% of
the time taken for the first test.
One of 'non-compensating' group scored above the 95% confidence
interval on the re- test (68 to 78). This was achieved in 73% of the time of
the pre-course test.
This test is also a test of comprehension at single sentence level. This
means that the context is restricted unlike a page of text which provides
extended cues for expectations and meaning.
Overall, the test scores were therefore relatively stable, despite increased
speed. The mean time taken to achieve similar test scores was 80% of
that taken on the first test. The reduced time in which the scores were
achieved has a statistical significance of p<0.05.
TOWRE sight words
It is important to remember that almost all the participants were above the
ceiling age for the TOWRE standardisation. The scores cannot therefore
be used as more than a comparative indicator of change for individuals
over time. However, as we had predicted, scores on the TOWRE sight
words increased. This appeared to be for two reasons.
More words were read in the 45 seconds
Less visual misrecognition occurred.
This appears to support the subjective views expressed that the 'eye-hop'
exercises had improved print stability. One participant had noticed that
they now found music easier to read; that they could take in larger
passages of music at once and were able to recognise note positions
more easily and accurately. Increasing the TOWRE sight recognition
scores by almost half a standard deviation in just ten weeks can be
considered to be a significant improvement.
We had predicted that nonword reading would not improve, since there
has been no phonics of any kind as part of this course. Indeed, readers
were gradually encouraged to abandon sub-vocalisation until reading for
meaning required no phonetic attack or repair. It was therefore a little
surprising to discover that these results rose by 0.26 of a standard
deviation. The explanation for this probably resides in the improved
tracking and stability of print. Some researchers argue that improvements
in reading enhances phonological awareness (Morais et al, 1987). I
would suggest that this is unlikely in this context- just 10 weeks and the
reduction of sub-vocalisation encouraged. However, before nonwords can
be decoded, they must first be visually tracked accurately. Consequently,
any performance on a nonword test must include some measure of visual
processing of text. I would suggest that the increased scores are most
likely to be explained by improved speed and accuracy of tracking and
stability of print, rather than any improvement in phonological awareness.
BACK TO TOP
Evaluation and Limitations
This research project was designed to identify whether there was an
effect that needed further investigation. Results need to be treated with
caution because there was no control group and the sample is relatively
small (n=15). In addition, the TOWRE is only standardised up to the age
The trial was successful in confirming that there is a sizeable effect that
needs further investigation. With this small sample, the impact appears
consistent and dramatic. The apparent ‘reading effectiveness’ of the
participants has doubled in 10 weeks and all the participants report
dramatic improvement in both their speed of reading and the stability of
print where this was a prior difficulty.
One of the most exciting indications is that those with the most reading
difficulty made the most progress (measured as a percentage gain),
despite no differentiation of reading material or tests. Even more
interesting is the strong negative correlation between RE progress and
pre-course TOWRE nonword scores (p<0.01). This would appear to
indicate that the reading course enabled reading effectiveness to improve
most dramatically for readers with phonological difficulties without
addressing phonological difficulties at all.
It was stated at the beginning that a significant methodological problem is
that we do not have fit- for- purpose tools for measuring reading
comprehension. Indeed, reading comprehension is such a complex
process that good tools are very difficult to design. In this methodological
vacuum, we used a range of available tools and designed our own
measures of ‘comprehension’.
The project has provided further evidence to challenge the
appropriateness of existing single word tests to measure reading skills.
They may predict reading difficulty, but they do not necessarily provide
clear indications of how to improve reading skills (Torgesen, et al, 2001).
However, it must be acknowledged that our own measures of reading
‘comprehension’ were flawed.
We had recognised that using multiple choice questions to measure
comprehension can lead to false positives due to factors such as the
ability to elimination unlikely answers, taking risks and sheer chance. We
attempted to avoid these by asking highly specific questions that could
not be known without detailed reading of the texts, and that were very
demanding of the reader. The problem with these is that they also tested
detailed short term memory. This demand slowed the participants
reading, because we had to dwell on details which most readers would
normally 'look up' if they needed them.
The experience of being 'slowed down to memorise detail' was a
common one. I would therefore suggest that the RE increases are
artificially low as a measure of the benefit of the course. For example, my
own reading speed with 'good' comprehension has risen from around
250wpm to 850wpm. This makes reading texts or marking assignments
much faster. This speed is similar to the 'review speed’ on my last test
(857wpm). Discussions with participants, and referring to the loosely
measured speeds with which they read novels towards the end of the
course, appears to confirm that this is more representative of our new
reading with comprehension speeds. The mean final review speed of the
group was 580wpm (but ranged between 100wpm to 1500wpm). The
mean review reading speed for the non-compensated dyslexic group at
the end of the course was 241wpm (this is 26wpm faster than the review
speed of the ‘compensating’ group at the start of the course, with 15%
more questions answered).
BACK TO TOP
The action research element of the research project provides additional
evidence that the reading course was beneficial, since everyone
interviewed after the course confirmed that they had experienced direct
benefits from the 'eye-hop' exercises and intended to carry on with them.
There were 3 participants who experienced particular tracking difficulties
at the beginning of the course. Two of these were colleagues who
remained unconvinced by the course for the first 4 sessions. They relied
heavily on phonetic decoding and sub-vocalisation. Both considered
themselves good readers prior to the course. They all found that the use
of the finger during 'eye- hops' was distracting. They found the gradual
move from sub-vocalisation to visual reading was a difficult process for
In contrast, others on the course described the process very positively.
For example one participant said,
'When I started doing the 'eye-hops' it felt like changing from walking
(where I said every word) to beginning to run, where I only said the words
when my 'feet' came down. They always seemed to be the important
words, I don't know how that happened. As I got faster and faster I ended
up 'flying' where my feet didn't touch the ground at all!'
In contrast, the three ‘sub-vocalisers’ resisted the experience and made
little progress from session to session. However, on the 4th or 5th
session they suddenly found that they were able to comprehend text
without full sub-vocalisation and they then made dramatic progress. All of
them changed their opinion of the course and expressed the intention to
continue with the visual approach, ‘since I feel that I’ve only just started to
get the benefit.’
Until this 'break through' I had begun to believe that the course suited
those dyslexic readers who had phonological difficulties by building on
visual strengths, rather than those who had visual processing difficulties.
But this sudden breakthrough appears to indicate that it is merely a
matter of time; that skilled reading is essentially a visual process and
requires visual tools.
A possible hypothesis that progress on the course was simply depressed
by visual processing difficulties giving rise to an artefact of a negative
correlation with TOWRE nonword scores is inconsistent with the
evidence. Progress also correlates negatively with the TOWRE sight
word scores (meaning that the lower the sight word scores, the greater
the progress), but the correlation (-0.308) is weak compared with the
negative correlation with the TOWRE nonword scores (-0.767), and
indeed weaker than the negative correlation with the TOWRE combined
Participants described the experience of increased print stability and
improved reading. One described reading a whole book for the first time.
Many of how their pleasure in reading has increased. Another finding
music easier to read (see above). Another described how he had noticed
that, from being a slower reader than his girlfriend, he was now faster and
having to wait for her to finish shared reading. I also find that I am taking
much less time to assess dissertations. I read three times more books on
my summer holidays than I ever have before.
BACK TO TOP
The trial provides very good evidence of a dramatic effect that has
improved the reading effectiveness and pleasure of all the participants. It
remains to be seen precisely what causes the effect. There were a
number of factors involved. The teacher's charisma and ability to engage
and motivate the participants is one factor, although it is difficult to
imagine that simply motivating the participants could have such a
dramatic impact when reading difficulties have been a lifelong and
intransigent difficulty for many of the participants. Nevertheless, it will be
important to discover whether the effect is transferable; that the effect is a
product of strategy rather than charismatic teaching.
The most obvious critical explanation for the effect is flaws in the
measuring methodology. This would argue that the effect was caused by
variable comprehension test validity and participants learning how to do
the tests more effectively, rather than the test results measuring any real
change in skill. There is some evidence to support this view. Learners
learned how to preview more effectively and began to read more
strategically, particularly once they realised how detailed the
'comprehension’ question were. However, there is also considerable
evidence to the contrary, including:
1. The reading tests were randomised.
2. Learning good test strategies alone would be difficult to account for the
Let us take one example. Just one of the participants realised that she
found reading far more efficient if she knew what the questions were first.
She therefore changed strategies to read through quickly the first time,
find out what the questions were, and then take more care to read
through the ‘review’ knowing what she was looking for. On the surface
this looks like good evidence that strategy can account for much of her
improvement. However, the time taken to review the last test (when she
achieved 90% 'comprehension') was just 80 seconds. This compares with
over 5 minutes to achieve 90% comprehension in the first test. In
addition, although she only skim read the text in 48 seconds during the
last test, she achieved a 40% comprehension, compared with almost 6
minutes in the first test when she scored a 50% comprehension.
Learning to preview and ask questions of the text are generally
considered good reading-for-meaning skills. So the strategies that might
account for some of the improvement are part and parcel of good
transferable reading strategies. Therefore, rather than be discounted as
alternative explanations for reading improvement, they could be
considered a legitimate part of the improved skills being evidenced.
In addition to this, improvements in the RE scores are also reflected in
the improved TOWRE scores and the increased speed with which
WRAT4 scores were achieved.
Teaching preview skills is an important metacognitive strategy. What the
course was very effective in demonstrating is that readers succeeded in
answering more questions in less time when they used the first 30
seconds of reading time to preview the text than when they did not.
Although I teach the technique, I did not use it myself if I thought that time
was of the essence. I have now learned that failing to do so is a false
While many dyslexic readers can appear to overcome their reading
difficulties, the progress made during this course in 10 weeks is, in my
experience, unprecedented. This may be partly because very little
research has been undertaken to evaluate reading comprehension,
recognising that it is methodologically problematic. Yet improving reading
effectiveness must lie at the heart of any reading intervention.
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Research funds are now needed to extend the pilot project. This trial has
provided very good evidence of an affect, we now need to establish with
more certainty precisely what has created it and to what extent it is
transferable. This can only be done with further trials involving a larger
sample and control group. The participants on the course seem in little
doubt that it is the ‘eye-hop’ exercises that made the difference, but there
were other factors at play on the course. The next phase of the research
would benefit from reducing the memorisation necessary to achieve
We can expect that the course would be particularly effective for any
dyslexic learners progressing to higher level courses that put more
pressure on reading skills. This tends to occur quite suddenly as learners
progress to A- levels, but in particular when they progress to university.
We are very interested in trialling the intervention with students just prior
to progressing to university and can foresee a strong argument for the
DSA paying for the intervention, since it could be very effective in
preparing students for university. Indeed all the students expressed the
view that they wish they had been able to take this course before they
started their university courses rather than during them (and particularly
not during their preparations for exams).
In order to develop the framework for further research, we are planning to
be trained at LLU+ to teach the Super Reading course. This would give
us the capacity needed for the more extensive research and allow us to
evaluate the transferability of the course.
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Bell, T. (2001). Extensive reading: Speed and comprehension. The
Reading Matrix, 1(1).
Butterworth, B, (2002) Lost for Words, in Tim Radford (Ed.) Frontiers 01:
Science and Technology, Atlantic Books
Ellis, A. (1993), Reading Writing and Dyslexia, a cognitive analysis.
Psychology Press Ltd.
Hansen, J. Johnston,P., Murphy S. & Shannon P. (1998) Fragile
Evidence: A Critique of Reading Assessment, Lawrence Erlbaum
Hill, J.K.(1981) Effective reading in a foreign language, English Language
teaching Journal, 35 270-281.
Sprott,W.J.H (1952) Social Psychology, London, Methuen,
Tadlock, D. with Stone, R (2005) Read Right! Coaching your child to
reading excellence, McGraw-Hill.
Torgesen, J.K., Alexander, A.W., Wagner,R.K.,Rashotte,
C.A.,Voeller,K.K.S. & Conway,T.(2001) Intensive remedial instruction for
children with severe reading disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities,
Wolf, M. & Bowers, P.G. (2000). Naming-speed processes and
developmental reading disabilities: an introduction to the Special issue on
the double-deficit hypothesis, Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33, 322-
1. Evaluation of a 'Super Reading' Course
with Dyslexic Adults - Dr Ross Cooper
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UPDATED RESULTS & STATISTICAL ANALYSIS 1 May 2009
I have now got all the data for the group of 11 that just did the reading
tests with no course.
From the first to the last test, their reading comprehension and first read
wpm all dropped slightly by -2 to -5 %. The review read speed increased
slightly by +12%. These are all well within the fluctuations you might
expect by chance. The mean difference in what I call the combined RE
scores is -7% (This varied between -49% to +27%). So practicing the
tests made no difference to scores.
None of these results for this group have any statistical significance
(which means that the maths says they happened by chance).
If we compare this with everyone else who has done the course here:
1. Increase in first read wpm = +23%
2. Increase in first read comprehension = +26%
3. Increase in review wpm =+161%
4. Increase in review comprehension = +18%
5. Increase in first read RE = +53%
6. Increase in review RE = +204%
7. Increase in combined RE = +85% (individually this varied from +9% to
+408%. Since the individual test variations in combined RE scores can be
up to about +/-50%, it is fairly safe to say that the extreme individual
results are probably partly explained by up to that variation).
The statistical significance is calculated by how many chances out a
hundred the results could happen by sheer chance. Less than 5 times out
of a 100 (p<0.05) is the threshold for deciding it is statistically significant.
All of these results are much more significant than that.
1. 2 out of 100 [ Increase in first read wpm = +23% ]
2. Less than 7 out of 10,000 [ Increase in first read comprehension =
3. 1 out of a million [ Increase in review wpm =+161% ]
4. 4 out of 10,000 [ Increase in review comprehension = +18% ]
5. 2 out of 10,000 [ Increase in first read RE = +53% ]
6. 2 out of a million [ Increase in review RE = +204% ]
7. Less than 1 out of 10 million [ Increase in combined RE ]
Note to Ron Cole:
We can safely say that the statistical analysis is in your favour. In
addition, all the mean post-course wpm and comprehension scores of the
dyslexic group are higher than the pre-course scores of the non-dyslexics
(including in the non-dyslexic group the volunteers who included some
pretty good readers). This means that this dyslexic group, on average, is
now reading slightly faster with slightly better comprehension than the
average reader. Pretty amazing.
-Dr. Ross Cooper
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4-Day Intensive at Greenwich U.
University StudiesTest Verification
Intensive SuperReading Course Successfully Piloted
at Greenwich University
The 8 week SuperReading course was redesigned as a 4 day intensive
option building in 7 hours of supervised eye-hopping practice. It was
piloted at Greenwich University from 5 to 8 January, 2015, with support
from AchieveAbility and Melanie Thorley (Disability Project Officer and
AccessAbility Project Co-ordinator).
10 students (one from LSE) and 4 staff participated in the pilot. The
mean Reading Effectiveness (RE = speed x comprehension/recall) of the
group increased from better than 30% of the population to better than
95% with extremely high statistical significance (p<0.000027).
This represents a mean increase of 33.7 standardised points (or 2.25
Standard Deviations) in just 4 days. Bearing in mind that a full school
year usually produces approximately 0.5 Standard Deviations in
progress, this is an extraordinary result. (Student 8 missed one day of the
Greenwich University are now planning to implement SuperReading
across all 200 civil engineering students. Feedback from the participants
“I think the most valuable thing is that it has made me love reading again
as I rarely read anything in the last 3 years…”
“We received some very useful and astonishing experiences and
“Reading has never been my strongest asset, and on this course my
reading effectiveness score improved dramatically.” (Her score actually
became better than 99.9% of the population).
“I really increased my speed of reading and also my comprehension
increased a lot.”
“My scores increased considerably and I found the previewing– reading–
reviewing formula very helpful….I would recommend this course.”
“A daily difference I’ve seen is that…my reading speed is a lot faster
when I read novels. As well as that my comprehension has definitely
“I would highly recommend the course be taught to more people. I am
sure they wouldn’t know how good it is until they have attended. Am (sic)
most importantly amazed by the results at the end.”
“With the SuperReading course I got to actually see the progress I was
making from actual data. Plus I noticed myself that I was doing much
better than I had ever achieved before when trying to remember what I
“Thanks to this I can now go back to reading more books because I know
I will be able to remember what it was that I read, instead of proactively
forgetting as I progressed through the book, making it seem like a waste
“SuperReading is highly recommended.”
Dr Ross Cooper, January, 2015.
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