All of these webinars were free, sponsored by Do-IT Solutions.

The impact of Working Memory on dyslexia traits - 6 June 2017

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Having already looked at Study Skills and its relationship with Working Memory (with a conclusion that maybe we need to re-visit how we support students with study skill difficulties, the logical next phase is to look at how working memory impacts upon dyslexia traits. These traits are usually those areas that are implicit or implicit within screening questionnaires.

In this talk, Dr Smythe will look at traditional approaches to identification, recommendations and support, and ask if that should be modified as a result of a closer analysis of the impact of working memory.

The impact of Working Memory on Study Skills - 9 May 2017

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Study skills questionnaires are often seen as an important tool to help identify the support required in the areas of learning to learn, particularly (though not exclusively) at college and university. But to what extent are those skills affected by working memory?

In this talk, Dr Smythe will use data collected on Profiler to:
a) Present a hierarchical model of study skills, highlighting what should be the order of skills learning.
b) Identify the impact of Working Memory in each of the areas considered in the questionnaire, and the implications for interventions. out how to minimise cheating.

The problems of testing reading fluency - 11 April 2017

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

How fast somebody reads will impact on many areas, from reading instructions in an exam to reading background material in higher education. Measuring it again some form of norm could provide insight into support needed. But unlike in most high-stakes tests, in this case you get more support if you do badly. And if you know that, it is not difficult to cheat and read slowly.

In this talk, Dr Smythe will look at the principles behind testing for reading fluency, alternative approaches, how they may change due to context, and make suggestions about how to minimise cheating.

Does IQ predict reading and spelling scores? - 8 March 2017

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Despite decades of presentation of overwhelming evidence both in terms of research and logic that you cannot make valid predictions about reading and spelling scores of individuals using IQ, the IQ-reading discrepancy idea refuses to die. Why?

In this talk, Dr Smythe will trace the origins of the concept, look at the attempts to dismantle it, the research that underpinned and discredited it, as well as attempt to identify the motivations of those testers who continue use it.

What do Matrices tests measure? - 7 Feburary 2017

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Do tests such as Raven’s Matrices measure a real cognitive construct, or is it a mix of different ones? What do factor analyses reveal? Are they “culture free”? How many different versions of Matrices tests are there? If a new test apparently similar to a version of Raven’s Matrices is compared to Raven’s and the correlation is poor, which is correct, or do they measure totally different things? And to what extent is non-verbal reasoning just another name for jigsaws?

In this talk, Dr Smythe will question the dominance and usefulness of some of the more prominent “matrices” tests, and ask if we are trying to capture an elusive concept.

Understanding sub-skills of reading comprehension - 10 January 2017

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

If the ultimate goal of reading is to understand the written word, then all you need to do is to test the understanding. If the person understands, that is they can provide a meaningful interpretation of the words, then you can say that they have good reading comprehension. But what it they do not understand? Does it really help to have a test result that tells you they are bad at the test? Of course not. What you need is to understand why.

In this talk, Dr Smythe will present models of reading comprehension that allow us to identify the sub-skills (hint: there is no agreement as to what are those sub-skills) at the word and text levels, and to develop an intervention to help those with difficulties in reading comprehension.

Resources to support dyslexia pupils - 06 December 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

There are so many resources out that which claim they have the ability to help with literacy skills, including helping those individuals struggling with dyslexia. But how do you know what works, and if it works for others, how do you know if it works for the person in front of you? But also we need to ask at what point do you decided to give up and try something new?

In this talk, Dr Smythe will ask how we identify what is needed, looks to see what could fulfil those needs, and then looks for the evidence that they work. He asks what constitutes evidence-based research, and at what point you can accept “intuition”.

Early identification of dyslexia - When is too young? - 08 November 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

There has been much research that suggests pre-school identification of reading and writing difficulties is possible, even for children as young as 30 days old. But how much is believable, and how would you go about developing testing for young children.

Dr Smythe looks at the research, and questions the validity of some of the assumptions as well as the role of statistics and probability in this identification process. He also looks at the types of interventions that would help those at risk of reading and writing difficulties, the outcome of which can only really be seen several years later.

Understanding Dyslexia - 09 October 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Whilst most people seem to agree that dyslexia is a difficulty in the acquisition of fluent and accurate reading and writing skills, few understand the implications, and what to do about it. Indeed, a lot of myths and misconceptions have evolved around the subject, such that it can be difficult to know who you should believe.

In this talk, given during Dyslexia Awareness Week, Dr Smythe will present an overview of the dyslexia from both a research and practitioners perspective, peeling away those misconceptions, suggesting how most mainstream teachers can help dyslexic pupils in the classroom. He will also offer advice as to how technology can help, though should not be seen as a panacea to a problem that affects all aspects of living and learning.

In collaboration with Flourish and Nourish

Dyslexia Awareness Week - Big DATA but little change - Why does education lag behind business in improving efficiency? - 4 October 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

In the business world, BIG data‎ is big business. Companies as diverse as Google, Amazon and Airbnb are betting their futures on their ability to collect, interpret and utilise data. Despite being around a lot longer, education is far behind in how it collects and uses data. Whilst education, literacy and dyslexia conferences talk about diverse data that proves one point or another (typically with less than 500 students in a very limited context) there is little suggestion that we are on the threshold of a breakthrough that will allow us to move from research probabilities to making a significant different in every classroom, despite the potential.

In this ‎talk, Dr Smythe will discuss big data in Education, and how it has the potential to create a revolution in the way we teach. He will review progress that has been made to date, and the barriers to a wider understanding. Finally, he will reflect on why we need to remember that whilst big data may change the future, it is only small data, data about one individual, that will inform how we teach any child.

Study Skills - 6 September 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

We all think we know what study skills entails. In this talk, Dr Smythe will attempt to examine the perceptions of study skills and how those skills can be widely used. This will be done through contextualising the methods. For additional information around study skills you may also wish to review the Study Skills webinar listed below.

Understanding new/non/novel word tests - 7 Jun 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

How do you decide how a new word should be spelled? Who sets the convention? And why is it important?

New word spelling tests, sometimes referred to as non-words tests, are very useful in the assessment of how well an individual can learned (and can apply) the principles of phonics. But it is also indicative of how they will respond to all the new vocabulary they may encounter in a new subject. The spelling depends on a large number of factors, including the ability to find an analogy, geographic variations (consider travelling (UK) vs traveling (US)) and local accents.

In this talk we shall identify the main factors, and most importantly, discuss how the information, including not only errors but also syllable counts and time taken, can be used to aid teaching.

Why syllables count - 10 May 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Consider that a computer can beat a Grandmaster at Go and Chess, yet there is no simple (or complex!) algorithm that can divide words into syllable, unless you include thousands of exceptions. No wonder some kids have problems! Most teachers know that syllables are an important part of literacy learning. Yet for many they can be problematic, especially when trying to understand the difference between written and spoken syllables. But why is this apparently simple task so difficult for some?

In this talk, Dr Ian Smythe looks back at the research which tell us how understanding syllables provides a firm foundation for development of literacy skills, historical reasons why syllable divides can be ambiguous, some of the “rules” that can be used to aid syllabification (and when they fail) and some simple activities that help children learn syllables, even at home.

Myths of dyslexia - 5 Apr 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

There are many myths that exist in the field of dyslexia. In this talk, Dr Ian Smythe looks at his “top ten dyslexia myths” and tries to identify their sources, causes of misunderstanding, and the problems they have led to.

Assessment and training of visual skills - 8 Mar 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Visual skills are an important part of understanding strengths and weaknesses of an individual, including a dyslexic individual. It has been suggested that this domain is separate from the verbal domain‎, and there may be a global visual factor. But just how independent are those visual skills, and to what extent does training in one area lead to improvement of skills in another area?

Taking mental rotation as an example, Dr Smythe reviews the research to date and identifies the key techniques involved. Using data from over 800 individuals, he will discuss strategies used to solve this type of problem, as well as gender differences. He will also review potential strategies to improve these skills.‎ Implications, including decision making for possible courses and jobs with particular reference to the dyslexic individual, will also be discussed.

Phonological awareness, phonics and other the predictors of literacy skills - 9 Feb 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

In a world of contradictory research, there are many conflicting reports as to what are the best predictors of literacy skills and literacy skill difficulties. Furthermore, that evidence is about correlations as opposed to causes. So what should we believe? How can we know what interventions to use and with whom? Is there something we are missing? In the talk, we shall look closely at the research, and decide what to use as evidence when making intervention plans.

Does dyslexia confer visual advantages in society? - 12 Jan 2016

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Many people suggest that those with dyslexia have advantages in the areas of visual skills. But is this a case of nature or nurture? To date, the anecdotal evidence seems to suggest there is an advantage, whilst the research suggest it is, at best, ambiguous. Dr Smythe presents the evidence, and suggests why he considers both sides may be right.

Choosing the right test - 8 Dec 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

There are many tests available, with diverse levels of marketing spin that help justify their existence and price, and help convince you that it is just what you need. But how can you make an evidence-based decision as to which tool is the best for you? How do you decide what is valid and reliable? What about those p-values and confidence intervals? Or sample size? And is age important? Or is it a bit like buying a used car: looks great in the advert, but it is only when you take it for a spin that you discover it may not be quite what you expected?

In this Fireside Chat, Dr Smythe presents the key components of test selection, and provides a checklist of factors one should consider before making a final choice.

Making sense of spelling test results - 10 Nov 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Some teachers love spelling tests, others don’t. But the difference is mostly due to the perceived usefulness. With access to one of the biggest collections of spelling test errors in the world, ‎Dr Smythe revisits the usefulness of understanding spelling errors based on more than 500,000 examples collected through Do-IT Profiler.

In this talk, Dr Smythe addresses the following issues:

  • Why have a spelling test?
  • How do you construct a useful test?
  • How do you score difficult to read answers?
  • How do you remediate errors?
  • Are spelling rules useful?
  • What is the impact of multilingualism?
  • How do you group pupils for intervention?
  • Does technology remove the need for good spelling?

Update on Developmental Coordination Disorder/Dyspraxia (Dyspraxia Awareness Week) - 12 Oct 2015

Presented by Professor Amanda Kirby

In this webinar, Professor Amanda Kirby builds upon her keynote presentation to the 11th DCD Conference in Toulouse in July 2015, where she spoke about research relating to DCD in adolescents and adults over the past 15 years. She also reflects on the conference, and the wider implications for research and every day practice for parents, adults with DCD, and professionals providing support and guidance.

Predicting dyslexia (Dyslexia Awareness Week) - 6 Oct 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

‘Predict’ means to estimate what will happen in the future. Dyslexia is a difficulty with reading and writing, and, if it is genetic in origin, then you are born with it. You can only talk about ‘prediction’ before the child is conceived. Everything after that is about whether or not the difficulties in reading and writing manifest themselves in an individual whose neurodiversity may lead them to be described as dyslexic. If, therefore, one is to talk about ‘predicting dyslexia’ you can discuss the genetic probabilities, whilst talking about predicting the manifestation of reading and writing difficulties within the learning environment.

In the first part of this talk during Dyslexia Awareness Week, Dr Ian Smythe discusses what science has shown us over the last ten years about the predictability of dyslexia from the genetic perspective, followed by a discussion on the activities that have been shown to minimise the difficulties that can be implemented in the early years.

Finally, there is a discussion around the implications, and if dyslexic parents should start phonological-based exercises early to mitigate any predicted problems.

Why literacy teaching is failing so many children around the world (International Literacy Day) - 8 Sep 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

It matters little if you are supporting dyslexic individuals, third country nationals, multilingual learners or working in a community where teaching quality does not reflect current literacy learning theory, the issues are largely the same. Despite the diversity of context, there are more similarities than differences. In most cases, the learners want to learn, the teachers want their pupils to learn, and the solutions are simple.

What is not so simple is the statistics. For example, most sources suggest there are around 700 million illiterate people in this world, yet there is no consensus on what is illiteracy. Even in the UK, government sources suggest that 99% of the population is literate. Yet 4% are severely dyslexic. Reconciliation of the numbers is difficult, at best.

In this talk, Dr Smythe outlines the problem and its potential solutions, building upon his talk from 2014 (listen to it on Soundcloud here), highlighting what has changed in recent years, and how UNESCO’s monitoring and evaluation programme needs to turn from rhetoric into practice at the one-to-one level as well as the national (and international) level.

Confidence Intervals and other measures of assessment accuracy - 7 Jul 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

How confident are you on Confidence Intervals? With everybody asking questions about them, and tests only accepted if they have them, how relevant are they and are we being misguided (conned?) by yet another statistic? What is the validity of 95% confidence limits when you are working with the bottom 5% of the population? This talk looks to provide a clear understanding of when they are important, and when they are not.

Expert Evidence Report


Youtube videos about confidence intervals



Youtube videos to calculate confidence intervals



Paper on understanding of Confidence Intervals

Hoekstra R, Morey RD, Rouder JN, Wagenmakers EJ (2014) Robust misinterpretation of confidence intervals. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review Vol 21(5):1157-64

Not used but recommended

Holden C (2015) Confidence Intervals, Significance and Discrepancy: How do assessors establish ‘converging evidence’ of a specific learning difficulty in a diagnostic assessment for university students? Access: http://adshe.org.uk/journal-of-neurodiversity-in-higher-education/

The dangers of composite scores - 9 Jun 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

To test a skill (e.g. spelling), you need to aggregate response to related test items to provide a reasonable and widely accepted “best estimate” of ability. But what happens when you try to combine scores from different tests, such as happens in Turner’s Dyslexia Index or the Working Memory Index in WAIS. How valid (fair?) is it to use such methods? Could we be missing those who need help, making wrong decisions about intervention, or misleading everybody. This talk provides a review of the principles, and the compromises made when combining scores, and offers alternative suggestions.

Choosing and using concept mapping software - 5 May 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Join Dr Smythe as he discusses how to find the best concept mapping software to suit your needs, and how you can use it in your daily life. Also included is a discussion on how to mark concept maps using evaluation rubrics suitable for all ages.

Assessing executive function - 7 Apr 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Having discussed the concept and definition of executive function in previous webinars, Dr Smythe now turns his attention on how we can effectively assess executive functioning. The talk includes a brief review of the main tests available, discussions around validity, and how useful it would be to “make your own.”

Validity of self-reporting questionnaire - 3 Mar 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

If you ask somebody a question about themselves, we normally accept their response. But should we? If we ask their height, we assume their response will be fairly accurate. If we ask their weight, they may introduce a little “socially desirable” adjustment. But what if we ask about reading skills or memory, particularly if the person is dyslexic? How do people judge themselves? How accurate is self-assessment in the literacy field, how context dependent is it and how do we know when to trust the response?

In this talk, Dr Ian Smythe reviews the literature as well as present data on his own work that attempts to match questionnaire responses with cognitive assessments.

Assessment of working memory - 3 Feb 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Having given a talk on “What is Executive Function?” in October 2014, Dr Smythe follows this up with Part 2 – Assessment of Working Memory and Executive Function. Suggestions of material that could be used will be provided during the webinar.

Choosing and using text to speech software - 6 Jan 2015

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Join Dr Smythe as he discusses how to find the best text-to-speech solution for your needs, and how you can use it in your daily life. Links are provided to free resources as part of this webinar.

This webinar will be particularly useful for those with children or those supporting individuals with literacy needs.

Dyslexia and assistive technology: Making informed choices - 2 Dec 2014

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe


  • Show how appropriate assistive technology and specialised equipment can be used to support and enhance education of learners with different or overlapping SpLD needs;
  • Provide a rationale for using specific types of equipment or ICT packages to support specific learner needs, and
  • Provide a guide on how to judge the quality, usefulness and accessibility of assistive technological aids and specialised equipment.

Can robots assess dyslexia? - 4 Nov 2014

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Where are we going in terms of dyslexia assessment in say 50 years? Or put another way, how will the grandchildren of today’s dyslexic schoolchildren be assessed?

In this talk, Dr Ian Smythe briefly reviews what is the purpose of a dyslexia assessment, both now and in the future. But more importantly, he shall ask what is the power and potential of the computer within this process. For example, when will we see speech-to-text good enough for high stakes testing, will we see pinpoint teaching, and what additional benefits may arise with big data sets available through online testing?

What is executive function? - 7 Oct 2014

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Dr Smythe says:

“Having been asked many questions about what is executive function, I have finally decided to bite the bullet and stop avoiding them. To do this, I plan to address the following:

  • How do different people/institutions define it, and is it possible to distil that into one definition (and if yes, what is it)?
  • Why should we be interested, and what does it tell us, particularly with respect to the dyslexic individual?
  • If we were to measure it, are there interventions that we could develop (or already exist) and how do we implement them?
  • How can we measure something that appears to have many facets, and how reliable are the answers?
  • Can we still include those many facets into a single score of ‘executive function’?

The talk will be my presentation of answers. Attendees will be invited to offer alternatives as time permits.”

Validity of using US norms - 9 Sep 2014

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Dr Smythe talks about the validity of using tests normed outside the population you are working with, which for brevity he has called “Validity of using US norms.” The lack of some tests in key areas, and an apparent need for those tests leads advisors to suggest “using US based tests where nothing else is available.” But is this valid? And if not, what are the implications, both theoretically, and from the recommendations one may make based upon those tests?

Study skills and dyslexia - 1 Apr 2014

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe

Understanding dyslexia - 4 Mar 2014

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe


Do dyslexia labels limit support? - 27 Mar 2014

Presented by Dr Ian Smythe at the BDA International Dyslexia Conference Presentation

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