Robin van Rijthoven

128 Chapter 5 Conclusions and discussion The present study investigated the extent to which verbal learning and consolidation predict reading and spelling levels and intervention outcomes in children with dyslexia. It was found that verbal learning was not related to reading, whereas it was related to spelling. Furthermore, verbal consolidation was found not to be related to reading nor spelling outcomes. Immediate memory span was related to word decoding when controlling for phonological awareness and it was positively related to spelling skills notwithstanding individual differences inthe includedcognitive factors, i.e., phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming, verbal working memory, and semantic abilities. The influence of the immediate memory span (number of words remembered in the first trial) on word decoding and spelling was found for all children, but it was even stronger for typically developing children. No compensatory role of verbal consolidation on spelling was found and both verbal learning and consolidation did not improve the response to a phonics through spelling intervention. Prior to answering our research questions, we compared verbal learning and consolidation of children with dyslexia and their typically developing controls. Both groups performed equally on the immediate memory span. Children with dyslexia performed better in verbal learning but they remembered fewer words correctly over time compared to typically developing children. The verbal consolidation (words rememberedat trial 6)was equal to typicallydevelopingchildrenas childrenwithdyslexia forgot more words over time between trial 5 and 6. In line with Kramer and colleagues (2000), both groups started by remembering the same number of words after the first learning trial (immediate memory span). In our study, children with dyslexia with a mean age of 8.65 years outperformed typically developing children in verbal learning during subsequent trials (trial 2-5), whereas Kramer and colleagues (2000) and Van Strien (1999) found typically developing children around 8- to 13-years-old to outperform children with dyslexia, and Kibby (2009) found no differences among children aged 9- to 13-years-old. Our finding that children with dyslexia declined more over time than typically developing children contrasts previous findings of similar declines in words remembered by both groups (e.g., Kibby, 2009). This could have multiple explanations. Firstly, it could be due to the fact that children with dyslexia in our study were slightly younger than in previous studies on list learning. Younger children practice word attack strategies like rehearsal of words excessively in school and especially children with dyslexia need these strategies as they have to update information constantly due to their problems in verbal working memory (Puolakanaho et al., 2007). Since children with dyslexia rely more on alternative pathways to learn to read (e.g., Kearns et al., 2019), verbal learning could be a source of compensation for younger children with dyslexia. Secondly, differences between studies could also indicate that differences between