The longitudinal study 1990-1995

The research that led to the development of CoPS was carried out in a 5-year longitudinal study conducted at the Department of Psychology, University of Hull, UK.

Twenty-seven computer tests were created in order to assess various cognitive abilities, including visual, verbal, associative, sequential and spatial memory skills, as well as phonological awareness, auditory discrimination, visual processing capacity and other important linguistic and perceptual skills. A total of 400 students, aged 5 years, in 24 schools were administered these computer tasks, and their literacy, numeracy and intellectual development was followed up over the next four years, using a variety of standardised psychological measures. The follow-up data was then used to determine which of the computer tests were most effective predictors of dyslexia and other learning difficulties.

It is important to note that this system does not involve labelling students as ‘dyslexic’ at the age of five years. Rather, the purpose of the tests is to identify students who are likely to experience significant difficulty in acquiring literacy skills because of underlying cognitive deficits which are known to be associated with dyslexia. Some of these students may well be giving cause for concern for other reasons (e.g. because they have a history of speech and language problems) but many of them would otherwise be liable to pass undetected for some time. The hope is that such students can be given appropriate teaching and support so that their cognitive difficulties do not significantly impede their literacy development.