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Ocorreram mais de 92 mil mortes. Caldeira de Yellowstone. However, the measure of prevalence depends on sampling and definition. A common definition sets the cutoff for reading achievement to 1. The prevalence of dyslexia among university student in Sweden was studied by Woff and Lundberg [ 26 ]. They used several criteria to measure the prevalence of dyslexia among art students mean age In the last few years, there has been increasing interest about the cognitive profile of university students with dyslexia, especially in non-English-speaking populations [ 22 , 23 , 26 , 27 , 28 ].

There is no doubt that an unknown proportion of university students may suffer from dyslexia. Given that their learning goals are the same as those of their non-dyslexic fellow students, it is vital to be able to identify them, so that they may be informed as to what resources might help them optimize academic outcomes. The academic authorities should also know about useful and justifiable means of support for this class of students, such as extra time during examinations or the use of word processing software with spell checkers [ 28 ].

A critical issue in this context is the determination of dyslexia. Deficits in phonological coding continue to characterize dyslexic readers even in adolescence and adulthood [ 21 ]. In order to identify university students with dyslexia, we used a variant of the protocol devised for that purpose by Paulesu et al. This protocol is based on the widely corroborated idea that problems in phonological coding and decoding are the central deficit in dyslexia [ 29 ]. In the international study of Paulesu et al. In the first stage, a sample of students of each nationality were subjected to a collective test of spelling a list of words and nonwords and stress assignment they had to indicate the stressed syllable in a list of polysyllabic words.

In the second stage, the selected subsample was individually given a series of tests in word and nonword reading speed, digit naming, phonological working memory, and spoonerisms. The 36 students were eventually subjected to a neuroimaging PET study to compare their neurophysiological profile when solving reading tasks.

On the basis of that study, the authors concluded that phonological processing is a universal problem underlying reading disorder independently of the degree of transparency of the writing system involved. The purpose of the research was not to find out the prevalence of dyslexia among university students, but rather to establish whether dyslexia is a universal neurobiological condition. The present study, however, would like to test a screening procedure that might be capable of discriminate university students with dyslexia from the rest of the population. For that purpose, we applied the three tasks used in the first stage of Paulesu et al.

The first two tasks concern spelling and are motivated by the finding that spelling is one of the major problems facing adults with dyslexia and one of the main characteristics of dyslexia in the Spanish language [ 8 , 9 , 10 ]. The third task is also important because a study by [ 30 ] established that Spanish children with dyslexia had poorer outcomes than the controls in stress assignment tasks.


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Another recent study confirms the presence of prosodic difficulties in dyslexic students which may depend on subtle auditive deficits [ 31 ]. Apart from the three tasks inspired by the first stage of the study of Paulesu et al. In this task, subjects have to read ten lists of four nonwords, with limited time, store them in working memory, and reproduce them in writing. The rationale for this additional task comes from recent studies which suggest deficiencies relating to working memory, processing speed [ 32 , 33 ], and coding and decoding [ 29 ] in students with specific reading disabilities.

As far as we know, there are no studies of working memory and reading in a Spanish-speaking population of university students. The great advantage of the four tasks selected is that they can be collectively administered. Given that they correspond to the main deficits believed to be present in adult populations with dyslexia, they seem to constitute an excellent initial screening procedure that can be used to detect and support Spanish-speaking university students who may be experiencing dyslexia without knowing it.

To put forward a protocol to be administered collectively, with sufficient discriminative power, easy to apply to a large number of students, and capable of serving as an initial screening procedure. To establish the proportion of university students in the area of social sciences who might be at risk of dyslexia applying and comparing two different criteria or definition of students at risk of dyslexia. To raise awareness of the educational authorities and the general population of the existence of a hitherto unrecognized problem.

Question 1: How large are the measures of prevalence of risk for dyslexia relatively to the criterion or procedure used? Question 2: Are the scores obtained by social science students similar or different across fields of study? Question 3: Which of the tasks included in the study might best explain the persistent spelling mistakes that, according to all observations, most clearly characterize an adult with dyslexia? For this study, data of second-year Social Sciences students from a public University of Madrid were used. This group is constituted by four subgroups of second-year students of the School of Law and Business Administration Law and BA students; 44 males and 96 females , the School of Journalism students; 64 males and females , the School of Education students; 56 males and females , and the School of Economics students; 68 males and 68 females.

The total group of students thus consisted of males and females. Mean age was Students were told beforehand about the content of the tasks and the amount of time allotted for their solution, and it was explained to them that participation was voluntary, so anybody who did not want to participated could leave the room. The absolute privacy of their personal data was also guaranteed. In Paulesu et al. This makes sense for Italian because very few Italian words are oxytona stress on last syllable and all of them have an obligatory diacritic to mark the fact, e.

Again, trisyllabic paroxytona and proparoxytona in Italian very rarely need a lexically differentiating diacritic, e. In contrast, the Spanish orthographic rules are utterly different: all proparoxytona must carry a diacritic, whereas both paroxytona and oxytona carry diacritics according to lexical frequency. So, the spelling system prohibits diacritics in such frequent words e. But whenever this dominant stress pattern is broken, i. In this way, we reproduced the intention of the original study [ 24 ], viz. The stress pattern of such words cannot indeed be extracted by orthographic information alone and requires phonological recoding of the orthographic string.

Subjects were given 3 min to underline the stressed syllable in each word, and the number of correct responses were scored. Split-half reliability is 0.

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See Appendix A. Here we used the original protocol of Paulesu et al. Dictation took place under paced conditions 1 stimulus dictated every 3 s. The stimuli were recorded and reproduced in the same way in each classroom. The number of correct written words was scored. Whenever a word was not written with the orthographically correct diacritic, it was considered an error. Split-half reliability for WD is 0. See Appendix B. In this task subjects have to read ten lists of four nonwords each, to store them in working memory, and to reproduce them in writing.

Subjects started their written serial recall at the end of the presentation of each list of four nonwords. The number of correct responses item identity and item position of the list were scored. Therefore, the task integrates processing speed, phonological working memory, decoding and encoding, that make the task more complex than a traditional working memory task. In fact, this task captures a complex set of operations that are indeed predictive of dyslexia as we have described in the introduction. See Appendix C.

The primary purpose of this study—associated with our first question—is to determine the prevalence of risk of dyslexia in a group of university students of Social Sciences. A test, or a battery of diagnostic tasks, like the ones used in this study, aim at sorting the participants into two groups of individuals, one group who exhibits the signs or symptoms underlying the condition or research is about in this case, developmental dyslexia and a second group who does not.

It is not easy to find a feasible screening tool that can be administered to a group to detect dyslexia. Any criterion we may use for the purpose will produce both false positives non-dyslexic subjects who are pointed out as at risk for dyslexia and false negatives subjects at risk for dyslexia who are passed over as non-dyslexic. Prevalence estimates, of course, depend on definition. A common definition used to identify subjects as having a given condition is to pinpoint those whose score lies 1 or 1. In the present study, we propose two definitions or criteria to define subjects at risk of dyslexia: the traditional criterion or definition those whose scores lies 1 SD below the mean in three of the four tasks and a second criterion or definition to find the score distribution in all tasks and then to fix a cut-off point which clearly includes the subjects with the lowest overall scores.

This cut-off point is particularly apt for non-normal distributions as it is the case in the present study and is based on a left-asymmetry of the distribution of the overall scores See Figure 1 and Figure 2.


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Distribution of Overall Scores sum of scores in the four tasks. Red arrow indicates selected cut-off score. First criterion. A student is at risk of dyslexia if he or she scores one standard deviation below the mean for at least three of the four tasks performed in the present study. According to this criterion, 11 out of students or 1. In absolute numbers we have 6 out of females, 5 out of males, yielding a male-to-female ratio of 1. Second criterion. Here we first added the scores of the four tasks for each participant see Figure 2 for the distributions and then calculated a cut-off point in the overall distribution see Figure 1.

Note that Figure 1 exhibits a non-normal distribution, where a small group of low-score students is clearly separated from the rest on the left side. The cut-off point is located at , about 1. All 44 subjects at or below that score might be at risk for dyslexia 29 females and 15 males , or 6. Considering that there are females as against only males, the male-to-female ratio is about The distribution by school is as follows: 17 belong to Economics, 15 to Education, 8 to Journalism, and 4 to Law and BA.

1. Introduction

The second criterion is less restrictive and yields four times as many subjects at risk for dyslexia as the first one, so the question arises whether all individuals picked up by the first criterion are included in the set of those selected by the second one. To answer that question, we calculated the sensitivity proportion of true positives identified by the second criterion in relation with the first one and specificity the proportion of true negatives that are correctly identified by the second criterion in relation to the first one , and mapped the values onto a Receiver Operating Characteristic ROC curve see Figure 3.

The Receiver Operating Characteristic ROC curve resulting from the two criteria used to pick possible subjects at risk for dyslexia. Sensitivity was found to be 0. After comparing the results, we suggest using both criteria for identifying students at risk for dyslexia, given that the results of both criteria are consistent with, yet complementary to each other, in such a way that the joint use of both criteria would decrease the number of false positives and false negatives.

These procedures might assist to conclude that developmental dyslexia among university students could have a prevalence of between 1. Descriptive statistics of the tasks and their comparisons across the different Schools are reported in Table 1. The comparison of the mean scores obtained in each field of study, we found small differences, with the highest scores in Law and BA and the lowest in Economics.

Focusing on prevalence, as measured by our two criteria, we also found that more students in Economics and in Education show risk for dyslexia than those in Journalism or Law and BA. Bonferroni-corrected post hoc analyses, and effect size were also performed in case of multiple comparisons. We found significant differences across all tasks according to field of study, with the lowest scores in Economics and the highest in Law and BA. However, if we consider effect size results, the differences by field of study, whilst significant, are rather small See Table 2.

Table 3 shows the correlations between the measures in the sample. Inspection of the correlation matrix revealed low but significant positive correlations between WD and all the other tasks. Given the sample size, the correlation is small, but significant. WD was highly correlated with sex, women being significantly better than men in word spelling.

In relation to our Question 3, a multiple regression model was constructed to determine which variable explained variation in WD. The main goal of this study was to put forward a screening protocol for the detection of dyslexia among university students. The protocol was designed under the premise that we need it to be simple, easy to administer, and valid. To guarantee validity we adapted a protocol used for a sample of Italian, French, and English students [ 24 ], whose measures are supported by previous research as clearly related with dyslexia in university students.

Such a user-friendly protocol is badly needed, given the lack of specific tools for detecting dyslexia in this population and given the fact that the dyslexia condition tends to be undetected, even by the sufferers themselves, so that they face difficulties in their studies without receiving any attention or support. For this study, we chose students from different areas within the social sciences.

Although we observed few notable differences across areas, the students of Law and BA had the highest scores, whereas the students of Economics obtained the lowest. Explaining this gradient is not easy, but it may be related to university entry grade requirements. Entry grade requirements are established in accordance to the relative offer and demand of studying slots in each area.

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As the number of slots offered goes down and the number of slots demanded goes up, the grade requirement is higher. The highest possible grade is In the academic course of the participants in this study the grade requirements published by the university were 9. Students with unidentified dyslexia who do the obligatory university entry tests in Spain may be unwittingly discriminated against in that they would be denied entry to those areas with higher grade requirements due to the fact that spelling errors lead to lower scores. They would, thus, be unfairly disadvantaged in choosing a career.

Students who have been identified as dyslexic before doing the entry tests and so are able to present an officially certified diagnosis of dyslexia do enjoy special conditions during university testing. Such special conditions vary according to the laws of the Autonomous Community they belong to. Some of these conditions are: specially adapted tests, bigger fonts, extra time or even no time limit, the use of an electronic calculator or a dictionary, or even in some cases no consideration of spelling errors.

Yet, if a dyslexic student has not been officially identified as such, he or she would not be subject to such special conditions and so would be unfairly discriminated against. Hence the importance of having an easy-to-use screening tool whose application to big numbers of students would have a very small cost.

The prevalence of university students at risk for dyslexia which we found in this study, using the first criterion, was 1. The use of a second criterion to detect dyslexia leads to an estimate of 6. The arithmetic difference between the two criteria is explained by the fact that only students having scores lesser than 1 SD in at least three of the four tasks were included according to the first criterion, whereas the second, more general criterion picks up both students who had low scores in several tasks and those who had very low scores in just one of the tasks, so that overall low scores have a different composition in the two cases.

It is worth reminding that the tasks have been designed to provide an initial screening only. A later analysis of the two classifications has to be carried out in order to check the specifics of each case. Observed gender ratios, corrected for differences in the total numbers of males and females in the sample, gives 1.

Dyslexia is known to be more common among males than females. However, the magnitude and origin of this gender difference are in doubt. Differences in previously reported ratios, and in the ratios of the present study, may have arisen from differences in the way studies are conducted, namely the adopted definition of dyslexia, the type of test used, the levels of severity of reading troubles required to count as indicating dyslexia, and the sampling error associated with small studies [ 38 ].

Why females generally perform better on language tasks than males is unknown. However, sex differences have been identified even in children as young as 2—3 years old [ 39 ]. Although small, female advantages for verbal and written language persist into adulthood [ 40 ]. Finally, of all the variables studied, the timed phonological working memory task of reading and writing explains a greater proportion of the variance in spelling word dictation , which is one of the tasks considered to be best at discriminating for dyslexia in Spanish. As explained in the introduction, recent studies reveal that the cognitive profiles of students with dyslexia are associated with a weak working memory, speed of processing difficulties, coding and decoding all of the tasks included in the TPWMRW task.

We thus conclude that this task should be one of the measures for the proposed initial screening test, together with word and nonword dictation. It could be objected that the low reliability of the WD and NWD tasks reduce the usefulness of the present study. We have tried to counteract this variation by using a very simple task with easy words, which most students can solve it correctly.

Therefore, any significant low score obtained in this task probably is an apt indicator of genuine underlying difficulties. Another potential limitation of this study is that reading fluency, which is highly predictive of dyslexia in Spanish, was not part of our protocol. Still, our goal was to propose a straightforward and easy-to-use screening method that can be applied non-individually to big samples in very little time and at no great expense.

We are fully aware that to confirm the presence of dyslexia a second, deeper evaluation should be applied to the individuals hereby identified as possibly at risk, an evaluation that should at least include testing reading precision, reading speed and Intelligence Quotient IQ. For this reason, we have not talked of actually detecting dyslexia, but only the risk for dyslexia.

Full, reliable diagnosis will need much more than what we have offered here. However, having a valid and reliable as well as quick and user-friendly means of detecting risk might encourage the educational authorities as well as the staff who teach adult students, at university, college or any other technical level, to be alert to the possibility that some of their charges may be suffering from this condition. At the very least we can fight the widespread lack of awareness as to the nature and consequences of adult dyslexia.

In an effort to improve on the validity of our method, a later study might follow other studies [ 23 , 26 ] by adding a self-report questionnaire, including items on reading-writing difficulties in daily life. The correlation between the score obtained in such a questionnaire and our screening scores might improve the discriminant power of the present procedure. Finally, all students singled out as at risk for dyslexia according to the two criteria should be studied separately so as to gauge the specificity and sensitivity of our task in detecting dyslexia.

Developmental dyslexia is a lifelong condition, so that people affected by it will continue to suffer from it all their adult lives. In some cases, symptoms might be compensated by certain strategies and a lot of practice, but in other cases such compensatory strategies yield little fruit.

Dyslexia is sometimes detected and diagnosed, but not always, so that people affected by it will suffer and do a lot of extra work in order to achieve what is easy for others, yet without knowing why everything is so hard. The present study proposes a partial remedy to this situation by putting forward a group protocols capable of detecting dyslexia and making an estimate of the number of people affected by this condition. We want thereby to help raise awareness among teachers and the general public about the difficulties experienced by some students.

This is the first step in the long-term goal of helping those students themselves. After doing the study, we have become aware of its limitations and are in a position to suggest measures that might increase the discriminant power of our procedure, whose ultimate purpose is to increase the visibility of developmental dyslexia in adults, so that it can be appropriately conceptualized and treated. We want to express our gratitude to the University of Guadalajara and the Complutense University of Madrid, to the teachers who allowed us access to their classes, and to all those students who voluntarily participated in this study.

We also want to acknowledge all previous researchers on the subject, whose collective effort has made our own research possible. Directions: Please read carefully the following list of words and underline the stressed syllable. You have three minutes to perform the task.