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Module PPP-4033:
Disorders of Literacy

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Marketa Caravolas

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to provide theoretical knowledge and practical experience in literacy skills assessments to students with an interest in educational psychology, special needs education, and developmental psychology. The main focus of the module will be on typical and atypical literacy development in children. Students will learn about the administration of basic literacy skills assessments and about their clinical/educational interpretations. This should specify the purpose of the module where it fits into the programme specification and what it aims to provide. This will be in the Gazette entry for this module.

Course content

Children’s literacy disorders can take several different forms. The most well-known of these, dyslexia, affects accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. It is primarily characterised by (oral language) phonological difficulties. Another disorder, reading comprehension impairment, involves difficulty in understanding what one has read, even when reading accurately and fluently. Reading comprehension impairment seems to arise from weak oral language skills, including poor vocabulary, grammar, and oral language comprehension. Both of these reading disorders are also associated with spelling and writing difficulties. They also often co-occur with other difficulties in areas such as motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation. If correctly diagnosed, children’s and adolescents’ literacy difficulties can be remediated with targeted, evidence-based interventions that address the specific causes of their difficulties.

In this module, we will link theory with practice in learning about developmental literacy disorders. In the theoretical sessions, students will learn about the causes of literacy disorders, their manifestations in childhood and adolescence, about methods for their diagnosis through ‘skills-based assessments’, and about effective interventions. In the practical component, students will work with a pupil experiencing literacy difficulties. Over several weeks, students will carry out an in-depth skills assessment in order to build up a profile of the pupil’s literacy strengths and weaknesses. Based on this profile, an end-goal will be for each student to write a full diagnostic report, and develop a plan for an individualised program of effective intervention for their pupil. The module will comprise three strands: (1) weekly theory lectures, (2) weekly seminars and workshops focusing on the purpose, administration, and interpretation of various literacy skills-based assessments, and remediation strategies, and, (3) weekly assessment/intervention sessions with an assigned pupil in a local school. In light of the practical component, this module requires a serious commitment of attendance at all of its components. It is recommended for students with a keen interest in educational psychology, special needs education, and the psychological study of developmental disorders of learning, language and literacy.

Essential requirement: A valid DBS certificate prior to the start of the module. In order to undertake and complete the practical component of this module, students must be in possession of a valid DBS prior to Week 1 of the semester. Without this, students will not be permitted to continue on the module.

Assessment Criteria


Reasonably comprehensive coverage demonstrating good understanding of the material. Answers contain evidence of further study beyond the lecture material and demonstrate some development of arguments or critical evaluation. Work is well organised and structured. Work meeting this criteria is generally awarded a grade in the B range.


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area demonstrating a deep insight into the material. Answers demonstrate evidence of substantial further study. Work contains clear arguments or critical evaluation. Answers contain clarity of expression. Work meeting this criteria is generally awarded a grade in the A range.


Adequate answers, largely based on lecture material with no real development of arguments or critical evaluation. Structure and organisation of work is adequate. Work meeting this criteria is typically be awarded a grade in the C range. A grade in the D range is typically awarded if aspects of the work contains inaccuracies/misunderstandings or a failure to expand on key points. A failing grade is awarded where there are substantive inaccuracies/misunderstandings or major omissions.

Learning outcomes

  1. Critically evaluate relevant research articles using a psychological approach.

  2. Understand the criteria for scientifically-sound intervention studies, and be able to critically evaluate studies reporting intervention effects in dyslexia and reading comprehension impairment.

  3. Understand the key principles of literacy skills-based assessments in educational practice.

  4. Competently develop a plan for a well-founded and individualized course of intervention, based on language-based and multisensory teaching principles.

  5. Be able to evaluate own assessment and diagnosis skills and respond to feedback.

  6. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of current research and theory of the causes and manifestations of developmental disorders of literacy.

  7. Be able to interpret the pupil’s performance on a variety of tests, and be able to assess the degree of severity and complexity of the child’s profile of strengths and difficulties.

  8. Write a full skills assessment report, backed up by a portfolio of practical assessment sesssions/materials/observations based on direct work with pupil.

  9. Competently be able to administer and evaluate tests bearing on literacy and related skills in pupils.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK Brief Assessment Report 1

The first Brief Assessment Report describes the pupil's initial assessment. The first part of the report contains a description of the child's performance on the initial assessments given in the first session. The second part of the report includes a brief (300 - 500 word) synopsis of the findings from these assessments. The report must be submitted electronically by 9am via Blackboard.

LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Practicum and Portfolio

The portfolio is the culmination of the work completed with the pupil over eight sessions. It will include (a) description of the pupil's profile, (b) an overview of the assessments and activities completed in each session, (c) summary and interpretation of assessments of the pupil, (d) proposed outline of a relevant 20 session educational intervention.

The portfolio must be submitted by 4pm. A complete hard copy must be submitted to the Wheldon reception. In addition, sections of the portfolio must be submitted electronically via Blackboard. Further details will be given in class.

EXAM Final Exam

The final exam focuses on the theoretical components of the course. Students must answer three out of a possible six essay questions in two hours.

COURSEWORK Brief Assessment Report 2

The second Brief Assessment Report describes the pupil's performance on language and literacy tests. The first part of the report contains a description of the child's performance on these measures. The second part of the report includes a brief (300 - 500 word) synopsis and interpretation of the findings from these assessments. The report must be submitted electronically by 9am via Blackboard.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study
  1. Read/study weekly assigned readings.
  2. Preparing for weekly work with pupil in school. This includes preparing assessment materials for each session and ensuring you have full competence in the administration of each assessment.
  3. Exam preparation.

Weekly lecture on theory and methodologies in literacy development and assessment of literacy difficulties.


Weekly 1 hour session with an allocated pupil in a local primary school. Work will consist of literacy assessments, and related literacy activity. For example, when assessing spelling, the associated teaching activity will also focus on spelling.


Workshops will be used to prepare for upcoming literacy assessment components and for training in test administration and interpretation.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in oral form.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Engage in effective teamwork for the purpose of collaborating on psychological projects.
  • Be sensitive and react appropriately to contextual and interpersonal psychological factors.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Use a variety of psychological tools, including specialist software, laboratory equipment and psychometric instruments.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Resource implications for students

Students will be asked to purchase a teaching kit at £15.00 per kit.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Core texts and journal articles are available to read online for free via Bangor University Library (see Talis Reading List).

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: