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Davis® Dyslexia Correction- Research Overview

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The Davis Dyslexia Correction program was developed by Ronald Dell Davis from independent experimentation and research, beginning in the early 1980's. Davis, who was himself severely dyslexic, had discovered a simple mental technique that radically improved his ability to focus on print. Through clinical experience working with dyslexic adults and children, Davis and his colleagues improved and refined the methods over time. In 1994, after working with more than 1,000 clients, Davis published the first edition of The Gift of Dyslexia, detailing his methods and the theory behind them. Since that time, hundreds of professionals have received advanced training in Davis methods, and licensed Davis Facilitators have collectively worked with more than 20,000 clients.

Published (Peer-Reviewed) Research:

Studies of Effect of Davis Method

Case Study - Oregon, U.S.: A fourth-grade male diagnosed with a significant learning disability was given an intervention consisting of writing each word, its definition, the word in a sentence for context, creating a pictorial representation of the word, and then forming the word from clay. The results demonstrated that the Davis Symbol Mastery Procedure was successful.

Amsberry, G., McLaughlin, T.F., Derby, K.M., Waco, T. (2012) The Effects of the Davis Symbol Mastery System to Assist a Fourth Grader with Dyslexia in Spelling: A Case Report. I-manager's Journal on Educational Psychology. Vol 6, No. 2, pp. 13-18

Randomized Controlled Studies - Iran, 2012: Researchers from the University of Isfahan randomly selected and assigned 20 dyslexic third-grade boys to an experimental group or control group. The experimental group received 16 half-hour sessions of Davis-based tutoring. Students were tested prior to intervention, at the conclusion of the intervention sessions, and again at 1 year, 3 months.

Heidari T, Amiri Sh, Molavi H. (2012). Effectiveness of Davis Dyslexia Correction Method on Reading Performance of Dyslexic Children. Journal of Applied Psychology. 6(2(22)):41-58.

Heidary T, Amiri S, Molavi H. (2012) Effect of the Davis training method on self-concept children with dyslexia. Journal of Behavioral Sciences. 6 (2) :11-12

Case Study - Malaysia, 2011: Researchers worked with three 13-year-old nonreading dyslexic girls, using a program of clay modeling and reading exercises adapted from Davis Symbol Mastery and the Davis reading exercises. Post-test results showed that all three students were able to fluently read a passage containing words studied with clay modeling, as well as correctly identify and spell all words; however they were not able to learn a different passage studied without use of clay.

Ambrose, P.P., & Cheong, L.S. (2011). Effects of Clay Modeling Program on the Reading Behavior of Children with Dyslexia: A Malaysian Case Study. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher 20 (3): 456-468.

Empirical (quasi-experimental) - Iran, 2010: Researchers investigated the efficiency of Davis Dyslexia Correction Method on adult dyslexics' reading skills. Sixteen adult dyslexics (17-40 years of age) were selected randomly through multi-stage sampling. Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-R) and informal reading inventory were administered as preliminary diagnostic tests. Then Davis Dyslexia Correction method (Orientation Counseling and Symbol Mastery) was conducted on the clients individually for 30 sessions (each session 90 minutes). Post-tests were conducted upon completion of program (treatment). The results of T-test analysis showed that the intervention program significantly and substantially increased reading proficiency and comprehension in the study subjects.

Shayan, N., Akhvan Tafti, M., Ashayeri, H. (2010). Impact of Davis Dyslexia Correction Method on the Improvement of the Adult Dyslexics' Reading Skills. Journal of Educational Psychology Studies, 7(12):23-46 (Fall 2010-Winter 2011).

Case Study - Malaysia, 2010: Lee Lay Wah of the University of Malaysia reported the progress of a 9-year-old dyslexic student with the Davis Dyslexia Correction program. The child was able to successfully use Davis Orientation to control her mind function; Davis Symbol Mastery helped resolve letter reversals; and the Davis Reading Exercises helped the child to change her habit of skipping words when she reads.

Lee, L.W.(2010). The Davis model of dyslexia intervention: Lessons from one child. Pertanika J. Soc. Sci. & Hum. 18 (1): 133 - 139.

Control Group Study - South Africa, 2009: Researchers at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, implemented a program based on Davis methods at a school for intermediate level dyslexic students (ages 10-14) for a period of nine months, with a group of 18 students. They compared reading outcomes with a matched control group of students from the same school who were not exposed to the intervention program, but received phonological-based tutoring instead. The researchers reported that the Davis group showed significant improvement in word recognition and spelling; such improvement was not seen in the control group.

van Staden, A., Tolmie, A. & Badenhorst, M. (2009). Enhancing intermediate dyslexic learners' literacy skills: a Free State community project. Africa Education Review, 6(2), 295-307. doi:10.1080/18146620903274605

Small Control Group Study - Iran, 2005: Researchers at Alzahra University compared the progress of two randomly selected fourth grade students from a learning disabilities center with two matched controls, who continued to receive the standard instruction at the center. The students received instruction for three months, using Davis Orientation Counseling and Davis Symbol Mastery as described in The Gift of Dyslexia. Testing showed significant improvement in reading skills of students receiving the Davis-based instruction. The original article was published in Persian; an abstract in English is available here:

Feizipoor, H., Akhavan-Tafti, M. (2005). The effectiveness of Davis Dyslexia Correction method re-examined in Iran. New Thoughts on Education 1(1):39-50

Comparative Study - Italy, 2003: Researchers evaluated reading speed and accuracy of dyslexic students receiving eight different treatments. The study included a counseling approach which used Davis Orientation Counseling but not the Davis tools for reading practice or word mastery. The group receiving the Davis orientation instruction included 16 students, grades 3-8; the numbers of students in the other treatment groups ranged from 9 to 21, grades 2-8. The Davis group showed the greatest increase in reading speed, with passage reading at a rate that was double or triple the speed of students in other groups. The researchers concluded that the Davis-based model was the most efficient of all methods studied based on reading speed alone. However, the Davis group had a higher error rate for passage reading, although the ratio of errors to reading speed appeared equivalent or better than other groups.

Tressoldi, P., Vio, C., Lurosso, M.L., et al. (2003). Confronto di efficacia ed efficienza tra trattamenti per il miglioramento della lettura in soggetti dislessic. Psicologia Clinica Dello Sviluppo VII, n. 3: 481-493.

Control Group, Longitudinal Study - California, U.S., 2001: Working under the guidance of T.F. McLaughlin, Ph.D. (Gonzaga University), teachers implemented strategies adapted from the Davis Dyslexia Correction program among 86 primary students in three San Francisco area public school classrooms. First grade students scored significantly higher than a matched control group for the mastery of 100 basic sight words. Follow up data showed that no children who received the Davis intervention needed subsequent special education services, and a higher than expected number of students later qualified for gifted education placement.

Pfeiffer, S., Davis, R., Kellogg, E., Hern C., McLaughlin, T.F., & Curry, G. (2001). The effect of the Davis Learning Strategies on first grade word recognition and subsequent special education referrals. Reading Improvement 38(2)

Davis Perceptual Talent Theory Examined

Comparative Study, 10 Adults: The researcher used a combination of specific test methodology with subjective interviews to explore the Davis theory that dyslexics are nonverbal thinkers with greater ability to manipulate imagined 3-dimensional objects and to experience imagination as reality. The dyslexic adults reported more vivid experiences of visual imagination and had greater difficulty separating verbal thought from visual imagery than the matched group of non-dyslexic adults

Kramer, Sara. (2016) Is there a link between perceptual talent and dyslexia? The Journal of Inclusive Practice in further and higher education Issue 7, 2016, pp 34-48.

Comparative Study, 52 Children: Researchers administered tests of creativity and memory to a group of 26 dyslexic children and a matched group of nondyslexic children. The dyslexic group scored significantly higher on tests of originality and synthesis (Torrance Creativity Test, Picture Subtest). Additionally, dyslexic children performed better for memory tasks involving words referring to concrete objects and on pictorial-spatial memory tasks, than for memory of words with abstract meaning. The implications of the findings in confirming the Davis theory of perceptual talents and picture-based thinking associated with dyslexia were discussed.

Akhavann Tafti, M., Hameedy, M.A., & Baghal, N.M. (2009). Dyslexia, a deficit or a difference: Comparing the creativity and memory skills of dyslexic and nondyslexic students in Iran. Social Behavior and Personality, 37, Number 8, 2009 , pp. 1009-1016(8). doi:10.2224/sbp.2009.37.8.1009

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Academic Research:

At James Cook University in Australia, educators Patricia Carson and Dr. Reesa Sorin explored the use of Davis Symbol Mastery with four students as a way of mastering the spelling of homonyms on the Dolch word list. They reported improvement in all students in a conference paper presented in 2014.

South African educator René Engelbrecht worked with a group of 20 Afrikaans-speaking pupils in grade 5-7 from a school for learners with special needs, to study the impact of the Davis program in a controlled setting.

Jennifer Poole, Ph.D (psychology), conducted a comprehensive study of 14 different methods for dyslexia, including Davis methods, and published her results in the book, "Decoding Dyslexia" ( Matador, 2008; ISBN 978-1906510510). She concluded that the key element for a successful approach to dyslexia was to resolve disorientation. She noted that the Davis method was the only approach that used the "orientation" terminology and was expressly based on recognizing and addressing disorientation.

Maria Serrano, Ph.D, determined that a clay modeling approach adapted from Davis Symbol Mastery was more effective than other study methods among college students for learning words representing new concepts in a foreign language. The study, completed in 2003, was entitled 3-D Clay Modeling Instruction: A Pathway to Spatial Concept Formation in Second Language Learners. This work is also discussed in the chapter, "Materializing linguistic concepts through 3-D clay modeling" in the book Sociocultural Theory and the Teaching of Second Languages, by James P. Lantolf and Matthew E. Poehner. [Equinox 2008; ISBN 978-1845532505]

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Government and Public Agency Sponsored Reports:

There are several case studies about Davis methods, conducted under the auspices of the UK Department of Education and Skills, along with a descriptive overview:

The New Zealand Ministry of Education conducted a review of all available literature and issued a report that includes a good chart comparing various methods, including Davis Dyslexia Correction. (The chart can be found at pages 41-51 of the report):

Statistical Data Compiled by Davis Providers:

Lawrence and Stacey Smith, Davis Dyslexia Correction providers in Calgary, Canada, have recorded statistical information on the progress of 450 consecutive clients, ages 6-60, and presented it in graphical format. Their charts show that 57% of the clients increased word recognition skills by at least 4 grade levels during the one-week program. Another 36% experienced a 2 or 3 grade level increase.

Wes Sole, a Davis provider from London, Ontario (now retired), prepared a detailed report of program outcomes taken from 21 Davis clients, broken down by gender, age, and type of reading skill. He found the greatest degree of improvement in oral reading skills, with 71% of clients improving one or more grade levels during the one-week program.

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Personal Accounts

Media Reports:

Many anecdotal reports concerning Davis Methods have been published in the media, often based on journalist's interviews with adults or children who have completed the Davis program.

Video Testimonials:

Many individuals have reported their success with Davis methods. To view these videos, check out our "Reports from Real People" playlist on YouTube:

Written Reports:

Numerous personal accounts of experiences with Davis methods can be found on the internet. There are far too many reports to list. However, some sources of of reports are listed below:

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Cite as:
Davis Dyslexia Correction - Research Overview. Davis Dyslexia Association International. Retrieved 26 May 2016 from Dyslexia the Gift Web site http://www.dyslexia.com/science/research.htm
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