32094 - Methods and Techniques of Learning Disorders Assessment

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the training activity, the student: - knows the most recent explanatory models of specific learning disorders and scholastic difficulties; - knows the diagnostic criteria of specific learning disorders; - knows the tools for evaluating cognitive processes and learning skills; - is able to draw up recommendations for intervention in the different contexts (family, school).

Course contents

The course takes place in the second semester, from March to mid-May 2022 and is for students of the 1st year of the Master Degree in School and Community Psychology. The lessons are held at the Cesena (FC) headquarters of the School of Psychology and Education Sciences, Aula E, Piazza Aldo Moro, Cesena. The lessons will be held on Tuesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon from 2 pm to 5 pm. The course is organized in 2 modules (Module 1: Dott.ssa Paola Bonifacci, Module 2: Dr. Lorenzo Desideri). The contents of the 2 modules are integrated, the evaluation will be done through a single exam. The Module 1 program is as follows:

- Theoretical models of learning processes

- Intelligence: Theories, Evaluation Tools, and Atypical Profiles (Intellectual Limitation and Intellectual Disability Operation)

-Reading and Writing: Theories, Evaluation Tools and Atypical Profiles (Dyslexia, Spelling disorders, Dysgrafia)

- Calculation: Theories, Evaluation Tools and Atypical Profiles (Dyscalculia)

- Reading Comprehension: theories, evaluation tools and atypical profiles (Reading comprehension disorder)

- Visual-spatial and motor skills: theories, evaluation tools and atypical profiles (Motor Coordination Developmental Disorder, Nonverbal Syndrome)

- Bilingualism and Learning: Types of bilingualism and trajectories of language acquisition and learning in minority bilingual children

Module 2: lessons will be alternated to Module 1 and will be aimed at presenting tools and software for intervention with reference to different profiles of learning difficulties (Voice Synthesis, Conceptual Maps, Voice Recognition Devices, Rehabilitation Software) and, concerning Reading Comprehension, metacognitive techniques to foster individualized study method will be presented. We will then discuss how to facilitate personalized intervention paths from the assessment of the specific characteristics of children with Special Educational Needs.

The main objectives of the course are to acquire knowledge in the field of learning and the development of cognitive functions; On the role of language development on learning and behavioral aspects; On the acquisition and maintenance of skills; On methods to select evaluate and use technologies for educational purposes. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of individual differences, the influence of genetic factors on the development and evolutionary trajectories of pupils with special educational needs. In addition, the methodologies for early intervention in the school of childhood will be discussed. In the analysis of the evaluation tools, the characteristics and typologies of the different evaluation tools (psychometric characteristics) will be discussed briefly and particular emphasis will be placed on the application of these tools with pupils from different cultures, in order to promote non-discriminant assessment and evaluation. 

Indispensable initial knowledge: knowledge of cognitive processes, general psychology (memory, language, learning, perception, problem solving). In presenting the theoretical models relating to different learning profiles the knowledge of general psychology will be tested. If needed specific suggestions will be given on how to integrate lack of knowledge on specific models (es working memory) (mainly manuals of general psychology).


Reference books for non-attending students:

Vio, Tressoldi, Lo Presti (2012). Diagnosi dei Disturbi Specifici dell'Apprendimento Scolastico. Erickson.

Bonifacci, P., Tobia V. (2017, in press). Apprendere nella scuola dell'infanzia. Lo sviluppo dei prerequisiti. Roma: Carrocci Editore

Fogarolo, F., Scapin, C. (2010). Competenze compensative. Tecnologie e strategie per l'autonomia scolastica degli alunni con dislessia e altri DSA. Trento: Erickson.


For attending students (at least 85% frequency):

Slide e materiale fornito a lezione (disponibile a partire dall'inizio delle lezioni su AMS Campus)

Vio, Tressoldi, Lo Presti (2012). Diagnosi dei Disturbi Specifici dell'Apprendimento Scolastico. Erickson.

Bonifacci, P., Tobia V. (2017, in press). Apprendere nella scuola dell'infanzia. Lo sviluppo dei prerequisiti. Roma: Carrocci Editore

Teaching methods

Lectures - Individual and small group tutorials for case discussion activities - Presentation of evaluation tools (psychometric tests)

Assessment methods

The expected learning indicators are: - to know the main experimental evidence and theoretical models on Specific Learning Disorders. - know the main assessment tools (psychometric tests and cognitive tasks) - be able to trace elements of intervention on the basis of individual assessment -to know the structure of a diagnostic report depicting a cognitive functional profile 

Evaluation of the acquired skills is made through a WRITTEN and SINGLE exam (BOTH MODULES ASSESSED TOGETHER).The minimum score for passing the exam 18, the maximum score is 30 L.

Students who regularly attend lessons might particpate in a working group. Each group will be asked to designa project (3 PAGES LONG) aimed at identifying and stimulating cognitive skills addressed in the course (reading writing, comprehension, math, attention) to be potentially implemented in the school setting.The maximum score for this section is 10 points.

Students will be further required to discuss a case study during the FINAL WRITTEN EXAM (they will not be required to respond to theoretical questiuons). 


- 2 THEORETICAL QUESTIONS ON predictors of learning skills.(5 points for each question, 10 points in total)

- A diagnostic report prototype will be provided for a case of learning disorder (Short history, results of test related to intellectual, cognitive, and learning profile). The student is required to read the report carefully and answer 3 open questions:

1)Define further assessment and investigations that would be required to better understand the functional profile. (6 points)

2)Summarize the cognitive profile, evidencing strengths and weaknesses. Hypothesize a diagnostic definition and refer to theoretical model to support the diagnostic hypothesis. (8 points)

3) Provide guidance for the school context about compensatory tools and teaching methodologies that may favor the expression of learning potential. (6 points)

The EXAM can have a maximum score of 30 points (cum laude). The achievement by the student of an organic vision of the themes dealt with in the lesson together with their critical use, the use of an expressive and specific language will be evaluated with excellence marks. Mostly mechanical and / or mnemonic knowledge of the material, synthesis and non-articulated analysis and / or non-specific language will lead to discrete evaluations; Inadequate knowledge and / or language gaps will lead to low or insufficient evaluations, in relation to the level of criticism demonstrated. The time available for the test is 2.5 hours.

Before the exam, it is necessary to subscribe to the ALMAESAMI electronic bulletin board, in compliance with the due dates. Those who failed to sign up for technical problems by the due date are required to writhe an e-mail to both professors.

Teaching tools

PC and projector, audio and video files, paper and pencil tools

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Paola Bonifacci

See the website of Lorenzo Desideri