Professor Profiles

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Denyse Hayward

Associate Professor


Educational Psychology

About Me

I began my professional career as a speech-language pathologist working in clinical and educational settings to support young children with speech and language delays. I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Alberta (Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine) specializing in narrative comprehension in young children with and without language impairments. Following my doctorate, I completed two post-doctoral fellowships. The first with Dr. Ron Gillam in the Dept. of Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Austin and the second with Dr. Linda Phillips in the Dept. of Elementary Education at the University of Alberta.


My current research examines the assessment and instruction of language and literacy skills in young children with and without language learning difficulties.

Investigating the Inclusion of Constitutive Aspects of Spelling in Alberta’s Spelling Curriculum

Historically, spelling was considered a core subject but has suffered a decline over several decades. Many people still believe that spelling is primarily a visual skill which has led to a resistance to explicitly teach spelling in schools. However, there is mounting evidence showing spelling to be a complex language skill requiring knowledge of phonology (sounds and syllables), orthography (letters), morphology (word parts), semantics (word meaning), syntax (grammar), and pragmatics (context). Spelling helps us understand underlying difficulties in reading and writing.

In this study I will examine ministry of education curriculum guidelines for spelling, and commercial spelling programs used in Albertan schools to determine if they incorporate the language components that comprise spelling.

The Design and Development of an Early Language and Literacy Screening Test

Building on existing research, our goals are to develop a national early language and literacy assessment instrument, the Test of Early Language and Literacy (TELL) and a complementary intervention program. National norming of the TELL is almost complete. Work is currently underway on the Environmental and Print Awareness teaching modules.

The Accuracy of Reading Classification: Comparison of Conventional and Dynamic Measures of Word Reading

In this study we examine the contributions of an alternative assessment model, referred to as Dynamic Assessment, to the assessment of phonological awareness and word reading skills in beginning readers from non-mainstream backgrounds.