Authors: Lisette Hornstra, Eddie Denessen, Joep Bakker, Linda van den Bergh, and Marinus Voeten.

Article: Teacher Attitudes Toward Dyslexia: Effects on Teacher Expectations and the Academic Achievement of Students With Dyslexia..

Publication: Journal of Learning Disabilities (Sage Journals). 43(6), 515–529 2010 | DOI: 10.1177/0022219409355479

[Full Text]

The present study examined teacher attitudes toward dyslexia and the effects of these attitudes on teacher expectations and the academic achievement of students with dyslexia compared to students without learning disabilities. The attitudes of 30 regular education teachers toward dyslexia were determined using both an implicit measure and an explicit, self-report measure. Achievement scores for 307 students were also obtained. Implicit teacher attitudes toward dyslexia related to teacher ratings of student achievement on a writing task and also to student achievement on standardized tests of spelling but not math for those students with dyslexia. Self-reported attitudes of the teachers toward dyslexia did not relate to any of the outcome measures. Neither the implicit nor the explicit measures of teacher attitudes related to teacher expectations. The results show implicit attitude measures to be a more valuable predictor of the achievement of students with dyslexia than explicit, self-report attitude measures.

Tagged as: teacher education


Hornstra, L., Denessen, E., Bakker, J., van den Bergh, L., & Voeten, M. (2010). Teacher Attitudes Toward Dyslexia: Effects on Teacher Expectations and the Academic Achievement of Students With Dyslexia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(6), 515–529. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219409355479

Excerpts from Full Text / Notes:


Implicit teacher attitudes. Implicit teacher attitudes toward dyslexia were measured using a newly developed evaluative priming task that assesses automatic evaluative responses to an object or prime (Wittenbrink, 2007). The task was administered to the teachers using a laptop. To start with, either a neutral string of letters or the prime word “dyslexia,” was presented very briefly (250 ms) to the teacher. After presentation of the neutral prime or dyslexia prime, the participants were next presented a target word that has a general evaluative meaning (e.g., pleasant, horrible).


Students with dyslexia were found to receive lower teacher ratings of writing achievement from their teachers when their teacher held a more negative implicit attitude toward dyslexia. This effect can be assumed to reflect a confirmation bias (Nickerson, 1998). That is, when teachers hold more negative attitudes toward dyslexia, they also tend to rate the achievement of students in keeping with this negative attitude.

The spelling achievement of the students when measured using a national standard test, was also clearly affected by implicit negative teacher attitudes toward dyslexia. The difference in the spelling achievement of those students with dyslexia and those students from the reference group was larger when the teachers held more negative implicit attitudes toward dyslexia.

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