Psychology 3143G-001

Reading Ability and Disability

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


This course examines the cognitive processes involved in the development of reading ability and skilled reading. Topics will include predictors of reading success, theories of reading ability, eye movements, reading comprehension, and dyslexia.


Antirequisite: The former Psychology 3142E


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisites: Either Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810, and one of Psychology 2134A/B, 2135AB or 2410A/B

3 seminar hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


       Instructor:   Dr. Debra Jared                                   

       Office and Phone Number:  SSC 7330 519-661-2111 x84631

       Office Hours: by appointment                                



       Teaching Assistant: Taylor Sguazzin                       



       Time and Location of Classes:   M 3:30-4:30, W 3:30-5:30  SSC 2036

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Seidenberg, M. (2017). Reading at the Speed of Sight. Basic Books.

Additional course readings will be posted on OWL



Students are expected to gain an understanding of the cognitive processes involved in skilled reading and in learning to read, and of causes of reading difficulties. Students are also expected to gain an appreciation of the complexity of the process of learning to read, the multiple factors that contribute to success or failure, and the consequences to the individual of poor reading skills.


Learning Outcome

Learning Activity


Articulate the concepts and current states of knowledge in natural science (i.e., biological basis of behaviour, cognition and/or perception)

Lectures, discussions in class

3 Tests

Access, interpret and critically evaluate appropriate research in psychology.


2 Assignments

Assignments 1 and 2A

Evaluate the appropriateness of different methodological approaches to address a specific psychological question




Assignments 1 and 2A

Use evidence to support claims


3 Tests

Communicate orally accurately, clearly and logically, using the discourse of the discipline of psychology

Symposium presentation

Feedback from peers

Grade on presentation

Communicate in writing accurately, clearly and logically, using the discourse of the discipline of psychology


Assignments 1 and 2

3 Tests

Apply psychological principles to the understanding of everyday problems

Lectures, discussions in class,

Optional Placement at Western English Language Centre

3 Tests

Assignment 2B

Autonomy and Professional Capacity: Demonstrate initiative, personal responsibility, and accountability

Optional Placement at Western English Language Centre


Assignment 2B


Note: students will do either Assignment 2A or Assignment 2B. Assignment 2B is for students who choose the placement option.



There will be 2 written assignments; each of these is worth 15% of the final grade. The assignments will be approximately 5-6 pages each. Each student will present in one symposium on reading in special populations. This will involve a 10-minute presentation of 1 journal article, plus introductory and summary remarks developed with a group. The presentation is worth 15%. Written feedback given to students in other symposia is worth 5%. There will be two mid-term tests during the course, each worth 15%, and a final exam worth 20%. All tests will be written format (i.e., not multiple choice).


Students will be offered the opportunity to volunteer in Western’s English Language Centre. This centre is housed in our faculty of education. Instructors in the centre assist international students to develop their English language skills so that they can handle a university program in English. The focus of the work will be in assisting with English reading comprehension. Students in this course will be expected to go to the volunteer placement for 1-2 hours every week, depending on their assigned role at the centre. Students who decide to complete the placement will be offered an alternative to Assignment 2. In the alternative assignment, students will be asked to relate what they have learned during the placement to the topics covered in class.


PLEASE NOTE:  Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations (, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


Mid-term tests will be held in class on February 5 and March 12. The final exam will be held during the April exam period (April 14-30). Assignments will be due March 7 and April 11. Late assignments will incur a penalty of 10% per day, including weekends.


Jan. 10       Speech vs Print

Jan. 15       Writing systems

Jan. 17       Eye movements in reading

Jan. 22       Orthography; Statistical learning

Jan. 24       Word reading in skilled readers

Jan. 29       Skilled reading comprehension

Jan. 31       The Reading Brain

Feb. 5        Mid-term 1

Feb. 7        Home literacy in preschoolers

Feb. 12      Early predictors of success in reading

Feb. 14      Phonological awareness

Feb. 19-21  Reading Week

Feb. 26      Learning to read words

Feb. 28      Learning to read words

March 5      Developing word reading fluency

March 7      Developmental reading disability           

March 12    Mid-term 2

March 14    The development of reading comprehension ability 

March 19    The development of reading comprehension ability 

March 21    Special populations: Symposia 1 & 2

March 26    Special populations: Symposium 3

March 28    Special populations: Symposia 4 & 5

April 2        Reading Assessment; International Assessments

April 4        Interventions for word reading difficulties

April 9        Interventions for reading comprehension difficulties

April 11      Reading Education


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.