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Prevention of Reading and Writing Difficulties

Background and aims

Approximately 5-15% (e.g. Klicpera, Schabmann, Gasteiger-Klicpera  2003, Brandeis 2006) of all pupils in German-speaking countries have serious difficulties in learning to read and write. Pupils with manifested reading and writing difficulties risk functional illiteracy and thus insufficient social participation. For some time, great importance has been attached to reading and writing difficulties and their consequences in both research and practice. From the points of view of different disciplines, in particular education, speech therapy, psychology, psychiatry and neurology, explanation approaches were and are being formulated and supportive concepts were developed for children with reading and writing difficulties, which can be used in therapeutic and pedagogic settings. Special educational needs teachers in schools who support children with difficulties in learning to read and write, respectively who help regular teachers with the organisation of reading and writing lessons in a heterogeneous learning group, are obliged to deal with different theoretical concepts and face the challenge of choosing a selection for their teaching practice as well as integrating this in good practical teaching. For this, great professionalism is essential on the part of the teachers. To what extent current scientific knowledge of supporting reading and writing is effectively accounted for the teaching practice by special educational needs teachers in schools and to what extent it is effectively implemented in their teaching practice is, as far as we know, unclear.


The following questions are pursued in the framework of the project:

  1. What subjective theories and what level of knowledge do special educational needs teachers in schools have in terms of reading and writing difficulties?
  2. What subjective theories and what level of knowledge do special educational needs teachers in schools have in terms of the prevention of and intervention in reading and writing difficulties, and what effect do these have on their teaching practice?
  3. What requirements of further education and training for special educational needs teachers in schools can be identified from the results of the research?


The data survey consists of the following elements:

  • Guideline interviews with special educational needs teachers about their subjective theories on reading and writing difficulties, their level of knowledge of diagnostics and supportive material for the prevention of reading and writing disturbances, as well as about the form of preventative measures and their implementation.
  • Questionnaire for the dissemination of preventative and supportive measures in terms of reading and writing difficulties in kindergarten and first and second grade of primary school.


The results of the research are intended to contribute to a connection between the vocational knowledge of the special educational needs teachers in schools and the current status of scientific research in regard of reading and writing difficulties.
The research project aims at the development of an overview on reading and writing difficulties for students and teachers on the job as a special educational needs teacher in schools.
On the basis of the results of the research, workshops and seminars will be designed for teachers in schools to improve their support of children with special educational needs in reading and writing.


The number of articles (78) in specialist therapeutic and special-needs education journals dealing with the subject of reading and writing difficulties confirms that there is currently a distinct scientific interest in the topic. The specialist journal contributions can be divided into three categories: research contributions, theoretical contributions and practical contributions. The fact that the greater number of these articles (58%) concerns research contributions speaks for a concentration of research activity in this area during the study period. The specialist discussion centred on 11 different focal points with an emphasis on prevention, intervention and efficacy and served as a reaction to findings in the field of educational research (e.g. PISA) with regard to the reading competency of pupils in the German-speaking area. Diversity of opinions and multidisciplinarity were the general features of the discourse on reading and writing difficulties in the field of therapeutic and special needs education. The advantage of which was multiperspectivity, the disadvantage inconsistency.


  • Sodogé , A. (2008). Integrative Förderung von Schülerinnen und Schülern mit Lese- und Rechtschreibschwierigkeiten im Kanton Zürich. Durchblick, 33-38.
  • Sodogé, A. (2010). "Förderung ist Detektivarbeit" Was schulsiche Heilpädagoginnen und Heilpädagogen über LRS denken. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik, 4, 21-28.
  • Steffen, M., Sodogé, A. (2010). Was schulische Heilpädagoginnen über Lese- Rechtschreibschwierigkeiten denken:eine qualitative Interviewstudie zur Analyse subjektiver Theorien. Vierteljahresschrift für Heilpädagogik und ihre Nachbargebiete. 79(4), 316-327.
  • Sodogé, A. (2011). Wirksame Förderung von Schülerinnen und Schülern mit Lese- und Rechtschreibschwierigkeiten im integrativen Unterricht. In Lanfranchi, A., Steppacher, J. (Hrsg.) Integration gelingt .
  • Sodogé, A. (2011). „LRS ist eine gummige Angelegenheit“. Ergebnisse einer Befragung in der deutschsprachigen Schweiz zu den subjektiven Theorien und zum Wissen von Sonderpädagoginnen über LRS. Zur Veröffentlichung eingereicht.
  • Sodogé, A. & Kern, M. (2011). LRS im Kontext des Diskurses in sonderpädagogischen Fachzeitschriften von 2000 bis 2009. In Vorbereitung.
  • Kern, M. & Sodogé, A. (2011). Chancen und Risiken der ICF-CY als Rahmenkonzept zur Klassifiaktion von LRS. In Vorbereitung.



Project Management

Prof. Dr.  Sodogé

Leiterin Institut Sprache und Kommunikation unter erschwerten Bedingungen


Forschung und Entwicklung
Tel: +41 44 317 11 81

zfe[at] zfe