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Children's Learning Difficulties: A Cognitive Approach

ISBN: 978-0-631-17017-4
256 pages
January 1993, Wiley-Blackwell


Many children experience difficulties in learning. These difficulties may be specific, as occurs when a child experiences problems with some particular task such as reading, or they can be more general, as occurs when learning is slower than normal across a range of tasks. In this book Julie Dockrell and John McShane aim to give a clear account of learning difficulties, linking the theoretical with the practical in an accessible framework.

A central theme of the book is the role that cognitive factors play in learning difficulties. What impedes a child's progress in acquiring new knowledge? Why are children with learning difficulties impoverished in their use of strategies? How do children with learning difficulties differ from children developing without such problems? The authors argue that in order both to assess a child's problems and to design successful intervention programs it is essential to have an understanding of the demands placed on a child's cognitive system and the abilities of that system to deal with these demands They go on to describe the skills and strategies children need in order to read, spell, talk and use arithmetic; they show how to assess what missing skills and techniques lie behind learning difficulties, and discuss techniques which can be used to correct and compensate for these problems. Throughout the authors aim to give practitioners a way, based in theory, of evaluating and tackling the problems facing any given child.

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Table of Contents

1. Understanding Learning Difficulties: A Cognitive frame of Reference.

2. Assessing Learning Difficulties.

3. Specific Difficulties with Language.

4. Specific Difficulties with Reading.

5. Specific Difficulties with Number.

6. Mild, Moderate and Severe Learning Difficulties.

Principles of Intervention.


Index of Authors.

Index of Subjects.

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Author Information

Julie Dockrell is Lecturer in the Department of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics.

John McShane was previously Reader in Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He died tragically two weeks after having completed checking the proofs of this book.

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"This book is clearly written and considers both specific learning difficulties in language, reading and number as well as more general learning difficulties. One of the book's strengths is that it is fairly self-contained with essential background information on psychological theory being provided. However, I would also recommend the book to others who want an up-to-date, informed and comprehensive account of learning difficulties experienced by many children either on a temporary or permanent basis." Vicky Lewis, British Journal of Developmental Psychology
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