School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Dr. Sana Tibi

Ph.D candidate, Education

Dr. Sana Tibi

Dr. Sana Tibi - A second PhD to research dyslexia

by Georgia Carley
November 2015

Dr. Sana Tibi wants to help students with dyslexia have a better educational experience. As soon as I sit down with her, she tells me about UNESCO-partner Dyslexia International’s free, on-demand course that is “designed specifically to address dyslexia in the classroom, and is recognized by experts as a leading program for teaching literacy to learners of all abilities.” Dr. Tibi wants every Education student at Queen’s to know about dyslexia and the tools for teaching students with dyslexia.

Dr. Tibi’s concern for dyslexia and its impact on worldwide literacy brought her to work with UNESCO-DI, the World Bank, and now to a second PhD at Queen’s University.

 Dyslexia is a specific, neurologically based and often hereditary condition. It causes difficulties in reading, writing, spelling and organization. Dyslexia makes fluent reading difficult. It affects a person’s ability in phonological awareness and decoding skills, that is, analyzing and manipulating the sounds in words.

Dyslexia affects 10% of any population. It affects the individual, society, and economy at large. Dr. Tibi emphasizes that dyslexia affects “not only a child’s academic success, but also their psycho-social well-being.” However, “with interventions early on by teachers trained in dyslexia and its management across the curriculum, students with dyslexia can avoid falling to depression and a spiral of failure.”

Dr. Tibi has conducted thousands of educational assessments on children throughout the world. She is a hands-on expert of reading assessment. She has seen the need for better-prepared teachers who know how to use multi-sensory approaches to teach literacy to children with dyslexia.

 The online course that Dr. Tibi recommends was first presented at UNESCO in 2010 in English and French. It is now available in Portuguese, Chinese and Spanish, and Dr. Tibi is preparing an Arabic version.

Ognen Vangelov

Dr. Sana Tibi

Dr. Tibi is doing pioneering work. There are currently less than two-dozen published studies on Arabic reading. Dr. Tibi’s first PhD, completed at the University of Florida, was in speech-language pathology. There, she studied assessment of speech, language and reading in children and adults exhibiting different communications disorders. 

The World Bank and UNESCO-DI invited Dr. Tibi to work with them in developing reading assessment tools and as an educational advisor on literacy issues, based on her doctoral work. She has been selected as Chair for the 2016 Dyslexia Forum to be held in Genève.

But this work was not enough. Dr. Tibi tells me that she felt “an ethical and scientific obligation” to pursue further research during a second PhD. She wanted a systematic graduate high-level program to bridge knowledge gaps in her field.

At Queen’s University’s Faculty of Education, Dr. Tibi is studying the cognitive and linguistic processes of reading in Arabic-speaking children. She is investigating predictors of reading Arabic, orthographic processing, phonological awareness and morphological processing, which are at the core in teaching reading. The strengths for the study of morphology brought Dr. Tibi to Kingston.

Dr. Tibi concludes her interview with me with a mission statement: her goal for this interview is “for personally driven teacher candidates to sign up for the free online course."