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Selected Development Project
Project Title

The association of visual-spatial attention to word reading and reading difficulties in Hong Kong Chinese children: A three-year longitudinal study

Principal Investigator Dr. Liu Duo
Area of Research Project
Language, Literature and Linguistics
Project Period
From 09/2013 To 09/2016
  • To test whether visual–spatial attention to Chinese characters is similar with visual–spatial attention to symbols or letters;
  • To explore the developmental trajectory of visual–spatial attention in both typical and poor readers;
  • To explore the role of visual-spatial attention on word reading and reading comprehension in both typical and poor readers.
Methods Used

Participants: 150 children (in P2 at the initial testing time)
Visual-spatial attention
    Visual search task: Children are asked to search and circle out the target item from the background distracters as quickly as possible.
    Spatial cuing task: Children are asked to judge whether a grey dot appears in a circle presented at the left or right of the computer screen as quickly and as accurately as possible. Before the presentation of the grey dot, an arrow will be presented, which directs to the position the dot will appear (valid cue condition) or the opposite position (invalid cue condition).

Character reading:
Children are asked to read a total of 100 Chinese characters, sorted according to difficulty level.

Reading comprehension:
Children are asked to read two passages, and answer 5 multiple-choice questions after reading each.

Summary of Findings
  • Visual-spatial attention of typical readers towards Chinese characters is similar with letters, but not symbols;
  • Visual-spatial attention can predict Chinese character reading and passage reading;
  • Visual-spatial attention can distinguish poor readers from typical readers.
  • Enrich people’s understanding of literacy development in Chinese children by considering the importance of visual-spatial attention;
  • Develop a novel direction for investigating the problems of children with reading difficulties in Chinese;
  • Provide a new angle of view for designing intervention programmes for helping children to improve their literacy performance.
  • Liu, D., Chen, X., Chung, K. K.-H., & Wang, Y. (2014). Visual-spatial attention: its relationships with reading and writing in third grade Chinese children. Paper presented at the 21st Annual Meeting of Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Santa Fe, USA.
  • Liu, D., Chen, X., & Chung, K. K.-H. (2015). Performance in a visual search task uniquely predicts reading abilities in third-grade Hong Kong Chinese children. Scientific Studies of Reading, 4, 307-324.
  • Liu, D., Chen, X., Wang, Y., & Chung, K. K.-H. (drafting). Visual-spatial attention and its impact on reading and writing in Chinese children
  • Liu, D., Chung, K. K.-H., Chen, X. (planning). Reading difficulties in Chinese: visual-spatial attention as an important predictor.
Biography of Principal Investigator
Dr. Liu Duo, Phil joined the Hong Kong Institute of Education as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education and Counselling (SEC) in 2011. He got his B.Sci. and M. Sci. from Northeast Normal University and East Normal University in China, respectively, and then received his Ph.D. from the Department of Psychology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His current research interests focus on cognitive development and related problems, especially language and literacy development and difficulties, and metalinguistic processing. He also has interests in adopting both experimental and correlational approaches in tapping related research issues.
Funding Source

Early Career Scheme