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International Conference 2021

Keynote Speakers

Professor Vince Connelly - Oxford Brookes / Chair of the 2021 BDA International Conference Committee

Vince is known for his research on writing development in children and young adults and has been working in this area for the last twenty years. He is particularly interested in understanding the barriers to writing success in those diagnosed with dyslexia or specific language difficulties. A number his projects with colleagues have used digital tablets to record writing so that real time writing processes can be examined in detail. These innovative studies have shown that our current understanding of how writing develops is limited and we do not yet have a clear idea of how writing development goes wrong for some children.

Vince is the current chair of the 2021 BDA International Conference.

Writing and dyslexia. How poor spelling can constrain writing success.

The reading, spelling and motivational difficulties that are common with dyslexia can make writing a difficult and taxing task for many. In this talk Vince will present research from across the field demonstrating how slow and hesitant spelling can be a barrier to the wider development of writing skills in those diagnosed with dyslexia. With reference to the latest work tracking writing tasks recorded on digital tablets he will illustrate the complex interplay between spelling, handwriting and compositional processes and how these impact on individuals with dyslexia.

Professor Daniel Ansari - Western University

Daniel Ansari is a Professor and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning in the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of Education at Western University in Canada, where he heads the Numerical Cognition Laboratory (

Ansari and his team explore the developmental trajectory underlying both the typical and atypical development of numerical and mathematical skills, using both behavioural and neuroimaging methods.

Ansari has a keen interest in connecting the science of learning with education and served as the President of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES) from 2014-2016. Ansari has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science as well as the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Ansari's keynote will look at what we know and don't know about developmental dyscalculia, including:

  • What we have learnt about developmental dyscalculia and its cognitive and neural correlates
  • Issues related to the diagnosis of dyscalculia
  • How developmental dyscalculia is often comorbid with other learning difficulties and why
  • What we know about the overlap between dyslexia and dyscalculia
  • Evidence-based interventions to help students with dyscalculia.

Professor Adriana Bus - University of Stavanger

Adriana Bus is Emeritus Professor of Leiden University in the Netherlands, Professor at University of Stavanger in Norway, and a member of the University’s Scientific Advisory Board in Norway. She has also been appointed as an Honorary Professor at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.

For over three decades she has conducted internationally renowned research in early literacy skills, with particular focus on experimental research and meta-analysis of instruction methods, print exposure and digital book reading.

Her keynote address will examine how technical reading and spelling skills as well as reading comprehension are honed not only through direct instruction but through print exposure. Her session will cover:

  • The impact that leisure-time reading has on a child’s reading proficiency as they grow.
  • How reading proficiency but also reading anxiety can explain why it is difficult to motivate dyslexic children to practice their reading, and thereby making it difficult to improve their reading skills.
  • The utilisation of technology to promote print exposure in anxious and dyslexic readers.

Professor Steve Graham - Arizona State University Teachers College

Steve Graham is the Warner Professor in the Division of Leadership and Innovation in Teachers College.

For more than 40 years he has studied how writing develops, how to teach it effectively, and how writing can be used to support reading and learning. His research involves typically developing writers and students with special needs in both elementary and secondary schools, with much of occurring in classrooms in urban schools.

Graham is the former editor of Exceptional Children, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Journal of Writing Research, Focus on Exceptional Children, and he is the current editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology. He is the co-author of the "Handbook of Writing Research," "Handbook of Learning Disabilities," "APA Handbook of Educational Psychology," "Writing Better," "Powerful Writing Strategies for all Students" and "Making the Writing Process Work." He is also the author of three influential Carnegie Corporation reports: Writing Next , Writing to Read , and Informing Writing.

He is the recipient of the Thorndike Career Award from Division 15 of the American Psychological Association, Sylvia Scribner Award from Division C of the American Educational Research Association, Exemplary Research in Teaching and Teacher Education from Division K of the American Educational Research Award, Career Research Award from the International Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the Kauffman-Hallahan Distinguished Researcher Award from the Division of Research (CEC), Jeannette Fleischner Career Leadership Award from the Division of Learning Disabilities (CEC), Samual A. Kirk Award from the Division of Learning Disabilities (CEC), Distinguished Researcher Award from the Special Education Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association, J. Lee Weiderhot Lecture Award from the Council of Learning Disabilities, and the Don Johnston Literacy Lectureship Award for career contributions to literacy. He was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame for 2018.

Graham's keynote will be titled Teaching Writing to Students with Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities and will identify effective practices for teaching writing to students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Drawing on meta-analyses conducted by the presenter and other scholars, the presentation will first examine the writing difficulties experienced by these students. It will then provide recommendations for teaching writing to all children as well specific recommendations for teaching writing to children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. These students deserve and need the best writing instruction possible in their regular classroom settings as well as special education or supplemental instructional setting or conditions.

Professor Stanislas Dehaene - Chair of Experimental Cognitive Psychology at the Collége de France

Professor Stanislas Dehaene holds the Chair of Experimental Cognitive Psychology at the Collége de France in Paris. He directs the NeuroSpin center in Saclay, south of Paris -- France's advanced neuroimaging research center.

His research investigates the neural bases of human cognitive functions such as reading, calculation and language, with a particular interest for the differences between conscious and non-conscious processing, and for the impact of education on the brain. His main research findings include the discovery of automatic links between numbers and space, and of the role of the intraparietal sulcus in number sense; the operation of the ''visual word form area'', a left occipito-temporal region which acquires the visual component of reading; and the identification of physiological responses unique to conscious processing, supporting the theory of a ''global neuronal workspace'' for consciousness.

The awards that Prof. Dehaene has accumulated during his career are numerous; among the latest are APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (2015), Thomas Reuters Highly Cited Researcher (2014), and The Grete Lundbeck Brain Prize (with G. Rizzolatti and T. Robbins) (€ 1 million) (2014).

Prof. Dehaene is a member of six academies, including the British Academy, the American Philosophical Society, the French Académie des Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences USA. On April 2016 he received his second ERC advanced grant.

Prof. Dehaene is the author of several books for the general public, including The Number Sense, Reading in the Brain, Consciousness and the Brain, and How We Learn, which were translated into more than fifteen languages. He has also created three television documentaries, and authored more than 300 scientific publications in journals such as Science, Nature, Nature Neuroscience, and PNAS. 40 of his articles were cited more than 500 times.