Annals of Dyslexia

, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 21–43 | Cite as

Are preservice teachers prepared to teach struggling readers?

  • Erin K. Washburn
  • R. Malatesha Joshi
  • Emily Binks Cantrell


Reading disabilities such as dyslexia, a specific learning disability that affects an individual’s ability to process written language, are estimated to affect 15–20% of the general population. Consequently, elementary school teachers encounter students who struggle with inaccurate or slow reading, poor spelling, poor writing, and other language processing difficulties. However, recent evidence may suggest that teacher preparation programs are not providing preservice teachers with information about basic language constructs and other components related to scientifically based reading instruction. As a consequence preservice teachers have not exhibited explicit knowledge of such concepts in previous studies. Few studies have sought to assess preservice teachers’ knowledge about dyslexia in conjunction with knowledge of basic language concepts. The purpose of the present study was to examine elementary school preservice teachers’ knowledge of basic language constructs and their perceptions and knowledge about dyslexia. Findings from the present study suggest that preservice teachers, on average, are able to display implicit skills related to certain basic language constructs (i.e., syllable counting), but fail to demonstrate explicit knowledge of others (i.e., phonics principles). Also, preservice teachers seem to hold the common misconception that dyslexia is a visual perception deficit rather than a problem with phonological processing. Implications for future research as well as teacher preparation are discussed.


Dyslexia Language Literacy Teacher education Teacher knowledge 


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Copyright information

© The International Dyslexia Association 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin K. Washburn
    • 1
  • R. Malatesha Joshi
    • 1
  • Emily Binks Cantrell
    • 2
  1. 1.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Drury UniversitySpringfieldUSA

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