Evaluating the Efficacy of a Serious Game in Enhancing Word Reading Speed
Keywords:serious game, dyslexia, learning, reading speed, videogame
Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) characterized by subpar reading abilities in terms of accuracy and/or speed. Dyslexia can have a lifelong negative impact on academic and day-to-day life. However, early identification and subsequent training can help dyslexic children overcome their reading difficulties. For instance, tachistoscopic reading, a technique that involves presenting words for a brief period, has been shown to improve reading speed. Technological tools, such as serious games, can also be useful, and governments encourage their use to enhance the management of SLDs. In this study, we investigated the efficacy of a serious game called Tachistoscopio in improving reading speed in children. The game began with a short calibration process, followed by the presentation of a word for a brief duration. The user was then asked to write the word. We tested it on children, carrying out the pictorial system usability scale to assess usability and investigating the effect of class and gender through Mann-Whitney U tests. We determined it had excellent usability and could effectively adapt to users’ abilities, as third graders performed significantly better than second graders (p<0.001). Following the success of this preliminary phase, 36 second-grade children, split into two groups, participated in a training study: 18 children underwent a three-week training phase with the game, while the remaining 18 children served as the control group. Before the training, we assessed all children’s reading abilities using standardized word reading and vocabulary tests. The training involved four 20-item sessions per week. We then collected the reading performance of both groups again and used Mann-Whitney and interval estimates to test for statistically significant difference between the reading speed increments in the two groups. Their confidence intervals did not overlap (training: [0.11; 0.33], control: [-0.10; 0.05]), which suggests a significant difference between them. These findings suggest that Tachistoscopio may be an effective intervention tool for improving reading speed in dyslexic children.