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Department of Cognitive Science

MACCS Reading Treatment Studyimage task

The MACCS Reading Treatment Study has now been completed and is no longer recruiting participants. If you are interested in having your child/children's reading and/or spelling skills assessed or interested in your child/children participating in a research study, you may contact the Macquarie University Cognition Clinic for Reading.

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The aim of the MACCS Reading Treatment Study was to compare two different types of treatment for children with reading difficulties (also called developmental dyslexia). Treatment 1 trained children to read by teaching them to convert letters into speech sounds, which they can then blend into words. This training took 8 weeks. Treatment 2 trained children to match whole written words with whole spoken words to improve their reading of irregular (exception) words. This treatment also took 8 weeks. All children did both reading treatments – one group of children did Treatment 1 followed by Treatment 2, a second group of children did Treatment 2 followed by Treatment 1, and a third group of children did Treatment 1 and Treatment 2 at the same time (i.e., they alternated one day on Treatment 1 and one day on Treatment 2 and so forth). All children completed the treatment at home using computer-based programs.

The MACCS Treatment Study comprised 3 different phases (i.e., Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3) over a 5-year period. More than 350 children were involved in the study and over 250 children completed the entire duration of the study (i.e., 4 testing sessions and 16 weeks of treatment over a 6-month period). The results of Phase 1 showed that Treatment 1 plus Treatment 2 significantly improved general reading skills regardless of the order of training. Also, Treatment 1 on its own had the biggest effect on reading tasks that require letter-sound reading, and Treatment 2 had the biggest effect on reading tasks that require reading words by sight. These results indicate that 16 weeks of training can improve the reading skills of children with dyslexia, and that different types of training should be used to train different types of dyslexia.

During the course of the MACCS Reading Treatment Study the research team developed a number of assessment tools to assess several aspects of children's reading and spelling skills. A number of these assessments have been made publicly available to teachers, speech pathologists, psychologists and other allied health professionals on the MOTIf (Macquarie Online Test Interface) website.

Publications

  • Castles, A., Coltheart, M., Larsen, L., Jones, P., Saunders, S., & McArthur, G. (2009). Assessing the basic components of reading: Revision of the Castles and Coltheart with new norms. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 14, 67-88.
  • McArthur, G., Castles, A., Kohnen, S., Larsen, L., Jones, K., Anandakumar, T., & Banales, E. (2011). Phonics training for English-speaking poor readers (Protocol). Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews, 5, cd009115.
  • Jones, K., Castles, A., & Kohnen, S. (2011). Subtypes of developmental dyslexia: Recent developments and directions for treatment. Acquiring Knowledge Speech Language & Hearing, 13, 79-83.
  • McArthur, G., Eve, P., Jones, K., Banales, E., Kohnen, S., Anandakumar, T., Larsen L., Marinus, E., Wang H-C., & Castles, A. (2012). Phonics training for English-speaking poor readers. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 12.
  • Kohnen, S., Nickels, L., Castles, A., Friedmann, N., & McArthur, G. (2012). When 'slime' becomes 'smile': Developmental letter position dyslexia in English. Neuropsychologia, 50, 3681-3692.
  • McArthur, G.M., Jones, K., Anandakumar, T., Castles, A., Larsen, L., & Coltheart, M. (2013). A Test of Everyday Reading Comprehension (TERC). Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 18, 35-85.
  • McArthur, G.M., Kohnen, S., Larsen, L., Jones, K., Anandakumar, T., Banales, E., & Castles, A. (2013). Getting to grips with the heterogeneity of developmental dyslexia. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 30, 1-24.
  • Kohnen, S., & Castles, A. (2013). Pirates at parties: Letter position coding in developing readers. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115, 91-10.
  • McArthur, G.M., Castles, A., Kohnen, S., Larsen, L., Jones, K., Anandakumar, T., & Banales, E. (In Press). Sight word and phonics training in children with dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities.

Supported By

  • ARC Discovery Project Grant and Australian Research Fellowship [DP0879556] (2008 - 2012) "Children's difficulties in learning to read: Causes and consequences of poor letter-sound knowledge". McArthur, G., Coltheart, M., & Castles, A. ($454,000)
  • NHMRC Project Grant (2008 - 2012) "A randomised control trial of treatments for children with different types of reading difficulty". McArthur, G., Coltheart, M., Castles, A., & Kohnen, S. ($840,000)
  • NHMRC Equipment Grant (2008 - 2009) Laptops for training children's reading McArthur, G.M. ($14,985)

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Contact Details

Telephone: (02) 9850 9599
Fax : (02) 9850 6059
Email : cogsci@mq.edu.au
Web : www.cogsci.mq.edu.au