Functional illiteracy and developmental dyslexia: Looking for common roots. A systematic review.

Vágvölgyi, R., Bergström, K., Bulajić, A., Klatte, M., Fernandes, T., Grosche, M., Huettig, F., Rüsseler, J., & Lachmann, T. (2021). Functional illiteracy and developmental dyslexia: Looking for common roots. A systematic review. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 5, 159-179. doi:10.1007/s41809-021-00074-9.
A considerable amount of the population in more economically developed countries are functionally illiterate (i.e., low literate). Despite some years of schooling and basic reading skills, these individuals cannot properly read and write and, as a consequence have problems to understand even short texts. An often-discussed approach (Greenberg et al., 1997) assumes weak phonological processing skills coupled with untreated developmental dyslexia as possible causes of functional illiteracy. Although there is some data suggesting commonalities between low literacy and developmental dyslexia, it is still not clear, whether these reflect shared consequences (i.e., cognitive and behavioral profile) or shared causes. The present systematic review aims at exploring the similarities and differences identified in empirical studies investigating both functional illiterate and developmental dyslexic samples. Nine electronic databases were searched in order to identify all quantitative studies published in English or German. Although a broad search strategy and few limitations were applied, only 5 studies have been identified adequate from the resulting 9269 references. The results point to the lack of studies directly comparing functional illiterate with developmental dyslexic samples. Moreover, a huge variance has been identified between the studies in how they approached the concept of functional illiteracy, particularly when it came to critical categories such the applied definition, terminology, criteria for inclusion in the sample, research focus, and outcome measures. The available data highlight the need for more direct comparisons in order to understand what extent functional illiteracy and dyslexia share common characteristics.
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