EFU: Visual Discrimination

Visual discrimination is an important part of the learning process.

The cognitive learning skill known as “Evaluation of Figural Units” or EFU is another in the series of the six abilities that must be in place for a student to learn to read.

Remember Brian in my former blog? He was the little guy who couldn’t tell the difference between a 5 and a 3 on a consistent basis. Brian also had a visual discrimination (EFU) problem.

One of the “Six Essential Abilities” skills necessary to learn to read is EFU, or visual discrimination. This skill is a bedrock ability which frames our understanding of the basic, developmental skills that are prerequisite to reading.   Many students having difficulty reading have no difficulty in learning to read, rather they have difficulty with reading.  The actual visual messages that are transmitted to the brain are confused because of the picture that is being seen by an undeveloped visual system.

EFU is the cognitive ability to make a visual discrimination and judgment about detailed data.  This ability is demonstrated when one mistakes b for d, or p for q, or when one transposes or reverses letters or numbers. It would be easy to assume a diagnosis of dyslexia in a struggling student who has difficulty in this area when it is really a student’s inability to discriminate. EFU is one of the cognitive repositories for several important visual skills:

  • When the eyes are not able to travel back and forth in a smooth and purposeful manner, stopping on specific areas as needed to compare and contrast objects and tiny details, excessive re-reading and loss of stamina occurs. Visual discrimination (EFU) is affected.
  • In a young child just learning to read, letters, their sounds and combinations require being able to tell the differences in those letters on a consistent basis. If confusion occurs in the discrimination of small differences in letters, a major road block occurs. Visual discrimination (EFU) is affected.
  • If a student is able to give adequate feedback as the teacher points to letters on the wall and then are unable to make the same sort of connections when looking at a book, aiming may be the problem. This is the ability of the eyes to work together in tandem and focus tightly on a letter or combination of letters long enough to make those judgments regarding the sounds they make.  They may not see the same thing the next time they look at the letter.  This may be the student that reads a word on one page and then doesn’t recognize it on the next. It literally may not look the same way twice. Visual discrimination (EFU) is affected.

“Most learning difficulties are not profound, but they become profound if they are not addressed.”

This statement of truth by Dr. Robert Meeker, co-founder of SOI Systems, forms a foundational part of the approach the philosophy used at Synap2it! Learning Development Center.  We say, “If something doesn’t make sense in your student’s learning, there’s a reason.”

written by: Renee Anderson, SOI Systems Senior Program Consultant

Renee is the founder of: Synap2it! Learning Development Center.

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