Reading as a cultural skill is acquired over a long period of training. This thesis supports the idea that reading is based on specific strategies that result from modification and coordination of earlier developed object recognition strategies. The reading-specific processing strategies are considered to be more analytic compared to object recognition strategies, which are described as holistic. To enable proper reading skills these strategies have to become automatized. Study 1 (Chapter 4) examined the temporal and visual constrains of letter recognition strategies. In the first experiment two successively presented stimuli (letters or non-letters) had to be classified as same or different. The second stimulus could either be presented in isolation or surrounded by a shape, which was either similar (congruent) or different (incongruent) in its geometrical properties to the stimulus itself. The non-letter pairs were presented twice as often as the letter pairs. The results demonstrated a preference for the holistic strategy also in letters, even if the non- letter set was presented twice as often as the letter set, showing that the analytic strategy does not replace the holistic one completely, but that the usage of both strategies is task-sensitive. In Experiment 2, we compared the Global Precedence Effect (GPE) for letters and non-letters in central viewing, with the global stimulus size close to the functional visual field in whole word reading (6.5◦ of visual angle) and local stimuli close to the critical size for fluent reading of individual letters (0.5◦ of visual angle). Under these conditions, the GPE remained robust for non-letters. For letters, however, it disappeared: letters showed no overall response time advantage for the global level and symmetric congruence effects (local-to-global as well as global-to-local interference). These results indicate that reading is based on resident analytic visual processing strategies for letters. In Study 2 (Chapter 5) we replicated the latter result with a large group of participants as part of a study in which pairwise associations of non-letters and phonological or non-phonological sounds were systematically trained. We investigated whether training would eliminate the GPE also for non-letters. We observed, however, that the differentiation between letters and non-letter shapes persists after training. This result implies that pairwise association learning is not sufficient to overrule the process differentiation in adults. In addition, subtle effects arising in the letter condition (due to enhanced power) enable us to further specify the differentiation in processing between letters and non-letter shapes. The influence of reading ability on the GPE was examined in Study 3 (Chapter 6). Children with normal reading skills and children with poor reading skills were instructed to detect a target in Latin or Hebrew Navon letters. Children with normal reading skills showed a GPE for Latin letters, but not for Hebrew letters. In contrast, the dyslexia group did not show GPE for either kind of stimuli. These results suggest that dyslexic children are not able to apply the same automatized letter processing strategy as children with normal reading skills do. The difference between the analytic letter processing and the holistic non-letter processing was transferred to the context of whole word reading in Study 4 (Chapter 7). When participants were instructed to detect either a letter or a non-letter in a mixed character string, for letters the reaction times and error rates increased linearly from the left to the right terminal position in the string, whereas for non-letters a symmetrical U-shaped function was observed. These results suggest, that the letter-specific processing strategies are triggered automatically also for more word-like material. Thus, this thesis supports and expands prior results of letter-specific processing and gives new evidences for letter-specific processing strategies.
The present research combines different paradigm in the area of visual perception of letter and words. These experiments aimed to understand the deficit underlying the problem associated with the faulty visual processing of letters and words. The present work summarizes the findings from two different types of population: (1) Dyslexics (reading-disabled children) and (2) Illiterates (adults who cannot read). In order to compare the results, comparisons were made between literate and illiterate group; dyslexics and control group (normal reading children). Differences for Even related potentials (ERP’s) between dyslexics and control children were made using mental rotation task for letters. According to the ERP’s, the effect of the mental rotation task of letter perception resulted as a delayed positive component and the component becomes less positive when the task becomes more difficult (Rotation related Negativity – RRN). The component was absent for dyslexics and present for controls. Dyslexics also showed some late effects in comparison to control children and this could be interpreted as problems at the decision stage where they are confused as to the letter is normal or mirrored. Dyslexics also have problems in responding to the letters having visual or phonological similarities (e.g. b vs d, p vs q). Visually similar letters were used to compare dyslexics and controls on a symmetry generalization task in two different contrast conditions (low and high). Dyslexics showed a similar pattern of response, and were overall slower in responding to the task compared to controls. The results were interpreted within the framework of the Functional Coordination Deficit (Lachmann, 2002). Dyslexics also showed delayed response in responding to the word recognition task during motion. Using red background decreases the Magnocellular pathway (M-pathway) activity, making more difficult to identify letters and this effect was worse for dyslexics because their M-pathway is weaker. In dyslexics, the M-pathway is worse; using a red background decreases the M activity and increases the difficulty in identifying lexical task in motion. This effect generated worse response to red compared to the green background. The reaction times with red were longer than those with green background. Further, Illiterates showed an analytic approach to responding to letters as well as on shapes. The analytic approach does not result from an individual capability to read, but is a primary base of visual organization or perception.
According to the domain specific models of speech perception, speech is supposed to be processed distinctively compared to non-speech. This assumption is supported by many studies dealing with the processing of speech and non-speech stimuli. However, the complexity of both stimulus classes is not matched in most studies, which might be a confounding factor, according to the cue specific models of speech perception. One solution is spectrally rotated speech, which has already been used in a range of fMRI and PET studies. In order to be able to investigate the role of stimulus complexity, vowels, spectrally rotated vowels and a second non-speech condition with two bands of sinusoidal waves, representing the first two formants of the vowels, were used in the present thesis. A detailed description of the creation and the properties of the whole stimulus set are given in Chapter 2 (Experiment 1) of this work. These stimuli were used to investigate the auditory processing of speech and non-speech sounds in a group of dyslexic adults and age matched controls (Experiment 2). The results support the assumption of a general auditory deficit in dyslexia. In order to compare the sensory processing of speech and non-speech in healthy adults on the electrophysiological level, stimuli were also presented within a multifeature oddball paradigm (Experiment 3). Vowels evoked a larger mismatch negativity (MMN) compared to both non-speech stimulus types. The MMN evoked by tones and spectrally rotated tones were compared in Experiment 4, to investigate the role of harmony. No difference in the area of MMN was found, indicating that the results found in Experiment 3 were not moderated by the harmonic structure of the vowels. All results are discussed in the context of the domain and cue specific models of speech perception.
When stimulus and response overlap in a choice-reaction task, enhanced performance can be observed. This effect, the so-called Stimulus-Response Compatibility (SRC) has been shown to appear for a variety of different stimulus features such as numerical or physical size, luminance, or pitch height. While many of these SRC effects have been investigated in an isolated manner, only fewer studies focus on possible interferences when more than one stimulus dimension is varied. The present thesis investigated how the SRC effect of pitch heights, the so-called SPARC effect (Spatial Pitch Associations of Response Codes), is influenced by additionally varied stimulus information. In Study 1, the pitch heights of presented tones were varied along with timbre categories under two different task and pitch range conditions and with two different response alignments. Similarly, in Study 2, pitch heights as well as numerical values were varied within sung numbers under two different task conditions. The results showed simultaneous SRC effects appearing independently of each other in both studies: In Study 1, an expected SRC effect of pitch heights with horizontal responses (i.e., a horizontal SPARC effect) was observed. More interestingly, an additional and unexpected SRC effect of timbre with response sides presented itself independently of this SPARC effect. Similar results were obtained in Study 2: Here, an SRC effect for pitch heights (SPARC) and an SRC effect for numbers (i.e., SNARC or Spatial Numerical Associations of Response Codes, respectively) were observed and again the effects did not interfere with each other. Thus, results indicate that SPARC with horizontal responses does not interfere with SRC effects of other, simultaneously varied stimulus dimensions. These findings are discussed within the principle of polarity correspondence and the dimensional overlap model as theoretical accounts for SRC effects. In sum, it appears that the different types of information according to varied stimulus dimensions enter the decision stage of stimulus processing from separate channels.
Perceptual grouping is an integral part of visual object recognition. It organizes elements within our visual field according to a set of heuristics (grouping principles), most of which are not well understood. To identify their temporal processing dynamics (i.e., to identify whether they rely on neuronal feedforward or recurrent activation), we introduce the primed flanker task that is based on a firm empirical and theoretical background. In three sets of experiments, participants responded to visual stimuli that were either grouped by (1) similarity of brightness, shape, or size, (2) symmetry and closure, or (3) Good Gestalt. We investigated whether these grouping cues were effective in rapid visuomotor processing (i.e., in terms of response times, error rates, and priming effects) and whether the results met theory-driven indicators of feedforward processing. (1) In the first set of experiments with similarity cues, we varied subjective grouping strength and found that stronger grouping in the targets enhanced overall response times while stronger grouping in the primes enhanced priming effects in motor responses. We also obtained differences between rapid visuomotor processing and the subjective impression with cues of brightness and shape but not with cues of brightness and size. These results show that the primed flanker task is an objective measure for comparing different feedforward-transmitted groupings. (2) In the second set of experiments, we used the task to study grouping by symmetry and grouping by closure that are more complex than similarity cues. We obtained results that were mostly in accordance with a feedforward model. Some other factors (line of view, orientation of the symmetry axis) were irrelevant for processing of symmetry cues. Thus, these experiments suggest that closure and (possibly) viewpoint-independent symmetry cues are extracted rapidly during the first feedforward wave of neuronal processing. (3) In the third set of experiments, we used the task to study grouping by Good Gestalt (i.e., visual completion in occluded shapes). By varying the amount of occlusion, we found that the processing was in accordance with a feedforward model only when occlusion was very limited. Thus, these experiments suggest that Good Gestalt is not extracted rapidly during the first feedforward wave of neuronal processing but relies on recurrent activation. I conclude (1) that the primed flanker task is an excellent tool to identify and compare the processing characteristics of different grouping cues by behavioral means, (2) that grouping strength and other factors are strongly modulating these processing characteristics, which (3) challenges a dichotomous classification of grouping cues based on feedforward vs. recurrent processing (incremental grouping theory, Roelfsema, 2006), and (4) that a focus on temporal processing dynamics is necessary to understand perceptual grouping.
The Comparative Manifesto Project (CMP) dataset is the only dataset providing information about the positions of parties for comparative researchers across time and countries. This article evaluates its structure and finds a peculiarity: A high number of zeros and their unequal distribution across items, countries and time. They influence the results of any procedure to build a scale, but especially those using factor analyses. The article shows that zeroes have different meanings: Firstly, there are substantial zeroes in line with saliency theory. Secondly, zeroes exist for non-substantial reasons: The length of a manifesto and the percentage of uncoded sentences, both strongly varying across time and country. We quantify the problem and propose a procedure to identify data points containing non-substantial zeroes. For the future comparative use of the dataset we plead for a theoretical selection of items combined with the information about the likelihood that zeroes are substantially meaningful.
Subject of this book is an epistemological consideration - a consideration which could be characterised as a main theme - maybe the main theme - of that part of philosophy we all know as epistemology: the nature of knowledge. But other than the most essays on the subject of knowledge, here I am going to deal with a largely overlooked account to try to find an answer to the epistemological question of knowledge. This is the mental state account of knowledge (Price in his 'Belief' the formulation ``mental acts'' and Williamson talks about a ``state of mind''). Or to put it into the question I chose as title: is knowledge a mental state? We have to concede first that there is only a small group of philosophers who used to explain knowledge in terms of a mental state, particularly the `Oxford Realists'. And secondly, the acceptance of the MS thesis is low and negative. There is an interesting detail here: unlike the poor interest in an epistemic theory such as the MS thesis, philosophers like Prichard or Austin (and their philosophical thinking) are not really living in the shadows of philosophical consideration. Indeed their philosophical impact is high level, if we consider for instance Prichard's moral writings or Austin's theory of speech acts. I think we can conclude from this fact that the reason of the `negative' ignorance in respect of their epistemological point of view was not caused by a negative quality of their philosophy. Now, the question we are faced with (and that should be answered here) is: what is wrong with the MS thesis even though it is held by high class philosophers? Why is the epistemic thinking of Cook Wilson, Prichard and Austin afflicted with such ignorance? I will try to explain this later on with the notion of an unreflected Platonian heritage during 2000 years of epistemic thinking - a notion which is similar to a point Hetherington has called ``epistemic absolutism''. So, there are three main purposes which I am pursuing in this consideration: 1.To explain the reasons why there is such an ignorance towards an assertion of the MS thesis. I am going to pursue this through an analysis of knowledge which will demonstrate the inappropriateness of the JTB thesis as an adequate analysis of knowledge. 2.To describe that it is a mistake to ignore or at least underestimate the MS thesis in the discussion of an appropriate definition of knowledge and to maintain that the MS thesis is the key to a general theory of knowledge. 3.Conclusion: If the first two steps are correct, the JTB thesis is insufficient in order to give an account of the nature of knowledge in general. A consequence from this is: all the epistemic theories which are dealing with the JTB thesis are based on deficient assumptions. Hence their results - notably the well-known externalism/internalism debate - are insufficient, too. So, there is a need for a new theory of knowledge based on the MS thesis. In the course of my consideration I am going to justify the following three theses: i) The JTB thesis as a definition of knowledge in general is deficient, as the JTB thesis describes the propositional aspect of knowledge only. But the propositional knowledge - the so-called `knowledge that' - is merely one element among others that has to be recognized in search of a theory of knowledge. ii) The status of the `knowledge that' is derivative and not ultimate. It is derived from the non- propositional knowledge in order to make the non-propositional knowledge communicable to others. The mode of the `knowledge that' is indirect and thus can be stated in the third person point of view only. This ultimate kind of knowledge - the knowledge which the `knowledge that' is derived from - is the non-propositional knowledge. Its mode is direct and hence it is restricted to the first person point of view. Therefore the basis towards a theory of knowledge in general has to be this non-propositional aspect of knowledge. iii) Hence, taking the first two theses for granted, an appropriate theory of knowledge needs an account of the non-propositional knowledge. The MS thesis will accomplish this task.
This Dissertation tried to provide insights into the influences of individual and contextual factors on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) teachers’ learning and professional development in Ethiopia. Specifically, this research focused on identifying and determining the influences of teachers’ self perception as learners and professionals, and investigates the impact of the context, process and content of their learning and experiences on their professional development. The knowledge of these factors and their impacts help in improving the learning and professional development of the TVET teachers and their professionalization. This research tried to provide answers for the following five research questions. (1) How do TVET teachers perceive themselves as active learners and as professionals? And what are the implications of their perceptions on their learning and development? (2) How do TVET teachers engage themselves in learning and professional development activities? (3) What contextual factors facilitated or hindered the TVET Teachers’ learning and professional development? (4) Which competencies are found critical for the TVET teachers’ learning and professional development? (5) What actions need to be considered to enhance and sustain TVET teachers learning and professional development in their context? It is believed that the research results are significant not only to the TVET teachers, but also to schools leaders, TVET Teacher Training Institutions, education experts and policy makers, researchers and others stakeholders in the TVET sector. The theoretical perspectives adopted in this research are based on the systemic constructivist approach to professional development. An integrated approach to professional development requires that the teachers’ learning and development activities to be taken as an adult education based on the principles of constructivism. Professional development is considered as context - specific and long-term process in which teachers are trusted, respected and empowered as professionals. Teachers’ development activities are sought as more of collaborative activities portraying the social nature of learning. Schools that facilitate the learning and development of teachers exhibit characteristics of a learning organisation culture where, professional collaboration, collegiality and shared leadership are practiced. This research has drawn also relevant point of views from studies and reports on vocational education and TVET teacher education programs and practices at international, continental and national levels. The research objectives and the types of research questions in this study implied the use of a qualitative inductive research approach as a research strategy. Primary data were collected from TVET teachers in four schools using a one-on-one qualitative in-depth interview method. These data were analyzed using a Qualitative Content Analysis method based on the inductive category development procedure. ATLAS.ti software was used for supporting the coding and categorization process. The research findings showed that most of the TVET teachers neither perceive themselves as professionals nor as active learners. These perceptions are found to be one of the major barriers to their learning and development. Professional collaborations in the schools are minimal and teaching is sought as an isolated individual activity; a secluded task for the teacher. Self-directed learning initiatives and individual learning projects are not strongly evident. The predominantly teacher-centered approach used in TVET teacher education and professional development programs put emphasis mainly to the development of technical competences and has limited the development of a range of competences essential to teachers’ professional development. Moreover, factors such as the TVET school culture, the society’s perception of the teaching profession, economic conditions, and weak links with industries and business sectors are among the major contextual factors that hindered the TVET teachers’ learning and professional development. A number of recommendations are forwarded to improve the professional development of the TVET teachers. These include change in the TVET schools culture, a paradigm shift in TVET teacher education approach and practice, and development of educational policies that support the professionalization of TVET teachers. Areas for further theoretical research and empirical enquiry are also suggested to support the learning and professional development of the TVET teachers in Ethiopia.
The present study investigated the effects of two methods of shared book reading on children´s emergent literacy skills, such as language skills (expressive vocabulary and semantic skills) and grapheme awareness, i.e. before the alphabetic phase of reading acquisition (Lachmann & van Leeuwen, 2014) in home and in kindergarten contexts. The two following shared book reading methods were investigated: Method I - literacy enrichment: 200 extra children's books were distributed in kindergartens and children were encouraged every week to borrow a book to take home and read with their parents. Further, a written letter was sent to the parents encouraging them to frequently read the books with their children at home. Method II - teacher training: kindergarten teachers participated in structured training which included formal instruction on how to promote child language development through shared book reading. The training was an adaptation of the Heidelberger Interaktionstraining für pädagogisches Fachpersonal zur Förderung ein- und mehrsprachiger Kinder - HIT (Buschmann & Jooss, 2011). In addition, the effects of the two methods in combination were investigated. Three questions were addressed in the present study: (1) What effect does method I (literacy enrichment), method II (teacher training) and the combination of both methods have on children's expressive vocabulary? (2) What effect does method I (literacy enrichment), method II (teacher training) and the combination of both methods have on children's semantic skills? (3) What effect does method I (literacy enrichment), method II (teacher training) and the combination of both methods have on children's grapheme awareness? Accordingly, 69 children, ranged in age from 3;0 to 4;8 years, were recruited from four kindergartens in the city of Kaiserslautern, Germany. The kindergartens were divided into: kindergarten 1 – Method I (N = 13); kindergarten 2 - Method II (N = 18); kindergarten 3 - Combination of both methods (N = 17); kindergarten 4 - Control group (N = 21). Half of the participants (N = 35) reported having a migration background. All groups were similar in regards to socioeconomic status and literacy activities at home. In a pre- posttest design, children performed three tests: expressive vocabulary (AWSTR, 3-5; Kiese-Himmel, 2005), semantic skills (SETK, 3-5 subtests ESR; Grimm, 2001), and grapheme awareness which is a task developed with the purpose of testing children’s familiarity with grapheme forms. The intervention period had duration of six months. The data analysis was performed using the software IBM SPSS Statistics version 22. Regarding language skills, Method I showed no significant effects on children expressive vocabulary and semantic skills. Method II showed significant effects for children expressive vocabulary. In addition, the children with migration background took more advantage of the method. Regarding semantic skills, no significant effects were found. No significant effects of the combination of both methods in children's language skills were found. For grapheme awareness, however, results showed positive effects for Method I, and Method II, as well as for the combination of both methods. The combination group, as reported by a large effect size, showed to be more effective than Method I and Method II alone. Moreover, the results indicated that in grapheme awareness, all children (in regards to age, gender, with and without migration background) took equal advantage in all three intervention groups. Overall, it can be concluded with the results of the present study, that by providing access to good books, Method I may help parents involve themselves in the active process of their child's literacy skills development. However, in order to improve language skills, access to books alone showed to be not enough. Therefore, it is suggested that access combined with additional support to parents in how to improve their language interactions with their children is highly recommended. In respect to Method II, the present study suggests that shared book reading through professional training is an important tool that supports children´s language development. For grapheme awareness it is concluded that with the combination of the two performed methods, high exposure to shared book reading helps children to informally learn about the surface characteristics of print, acquire some familiarity with the visual characteristics of the letters and learn to differentiate them from other visual patterns. Finally, it is suggested to organizations and institutions as well as to future research, the importance of having more programs that offer different possibilities to children to have more contact with adequate language interaction as well as more experiences with print through shared book reading as showed in the present study.