Friday, January 20, 2012

Letter Names Help Children to Connect Print and Speech

Treiman, R., Tincoff, R., and Richmond-Welty, E. D. (1996). Letter names help children to connect print and speech. Educational Psychology, 32(3), 505-514.

Researchers proposed that children first connect print and speech by noticing the links between letters in print and letter names in speech. Example deaf says the letter f.  Ferreiro and Teberosky (1982) proposed that young children, familiar with the names of letters, use this knowledge to connect print with speech.

Methods Experiment 1
16 children avg age 5 yrs, native English, in Detroit daycare centers. Children were asked to repeat words then say the first letter of the words provided. In the "end" condition, the same procedure was repeated and children had to identify the last letter of the words provided.  At end of session, children had to relate printed letters to letter's names and sounds (random). Test of letter names had children identify letters on cards; for letter sounds test, same cards were shown with child asked to name sound of letters. Ability to relate letter names to printed words tested by using a selection of words. The test included ending letter names, not-a-letter-name control, and wrong letter names.  Words with beginning letter names /b/E/, /j/A/, and /t/E/ were interspersed randomly with words beginning with the initial phoneme but not a letter name /b/O/, /j/U/,  and wrong letter names, where the use of the letter name would lead to a wrong choice, example: wife uses the name of the letter y /w/I/ rather than "double-you" of w.

Sample word pairs in Experiment 1 of study: beach, jail; bone, June; wife, seem; wail, soup; feed, green; folk, group
deaf, gem; loaf ham; bed, desk; job, mask.

Results: Children did better when the letter name was apparent in the word, such as beach that begins with /b/E/ rather than bone /b/O/.  They also did better on the beginning condition rather than the ending condition. It was harder to notice the letter name /e/f/ in deaf. Children produced more errors when deciding the first letter in wrong letter name words than in other word types, suggesting the letter name influenced the task. Children did better at providing names of visually presented letters than identifying them in spoken words.

Discussion: Knowledge of letter names helps children understand the concept that print represents spoken language (alphabetic principle) and that printed words were not arbitrary strings of letters or logographic representations of meaning.

Theorists propose that children recognize syllables before phonemes, therefore, a second experiment was conducted to test this theory, using polysyllabic words containing letter names in one syllable.

Experiment 2
26 children ages 4yr 11mo - 5yr 7 mo, native English, in several Detroit daycare centers. All could provide the first letter of their first name.

Words included bisyllable words containing letter names such as beaver, where /b/E/ is evident in the first syllable. It also had monosyllable word containing the letter name, non-letter name controls, and wrong letter names both mono & bi. The third condition, however, differed in that it suggested invented letter names such as /m/E/ in meal or /w/E/ in weasel.

Sample words: bead, peek; bait, pole; beaver, peacock; bonus, poodle; meal, leap; moan, lane; weasel, meter; waiter, motor

Results: Children performed best on correct letter name words than any other condition, whether they were mono or bi-syllabic, with no significant differences in performance on either task. Results suggest that children do not necessarily relate print to speech at the level of syllable before phonemes, questioning Ferreiro and Teberosky's (1982) theory.

Children rarely produced false letter names and tended to provide the first letter of their own names rather than the letter in the word; some even used numbers.  Given printed letters, they were better able to produce letter names than sounds, often interfering with identification in spoken words when the entire letter name was not identifiable in the word.

Young children perceive writing as representations of semantic characteristics of words, relying on visual cues in written language rather than an awareness of the phonemic representations. They expect, for instance, that bigger objects are represented by long words. They need instruction in the alphabetic nature of language, in order to make the connection between the graphemes of the alphabet and speech.

Without this insight, they will not be able to make sense of the pronunciation map of speech that our writing system employs. Children often begin to develop alphabetic insight when they make the connection between letter names and spoken words, especially those words that contain the name at the beginning of the word.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Phonological Processing and Emergent Literacy in Younger and Older Preschool Children

Anthony, J. L., Williams, J. M., McDonald, R. & Francis, D. J. (2007). Phonological processing and emergent literacy in younger and older preschool children. Annals of Dyslexia, 57, 113–137.

This study examined phonological processing abilities of 389 3, 4, and 5 yr olds in Head Start programs (24 sites) at risk for reading difficulties because of conditions associated with poverty.  It found that phonemic awareness was uniquely associated with word reading skills in older preschool children. Rapid naming was associated with letter knowledge and text discrimination in younger preschool children, and general cognitive ability was only indirectly related to early literacy skills.

Research hypotheses:

1. Each phonological processing ability is distinguishable from general cognitive ability.
2. Phonological processing abilities are distinguishable from each other.
3. Relations among phonological processing abilities are different in younger and older
preschool children.
4. Phonological processing abilities demonstrate different relations with emergent literacy
skills at different points in children’s literacy development.

Measures: (Tested over a 2 yr period)

Preschool Comprehensive Test of Phonological and Print Processing (PCTOPPP; Lonigan et al., 2002) assessed  phonological awareness, phonological access, phonological memory, letter knowledge,
and text discrimination (print awareness).  Word reading included 2, 3, and 4 letter single syllable words, arranged in order of difficulty with a discontinuation criterion of five consecutive errors.
General cognitive ability measured with Developmental Indicators of the Assessment of Learning—Third Edition (DIAL-3; Mardell-Czudnowski & Goldenberg, 1998) 21 subtests.

Some findings:
* Phonological awareness and phoneme manipulation correlations were identical.
* Related to general cognitive ability which only had indirect effects on emergent literacy. The implications are that phonological processing abilities are what influence the reading acquisition process, and each  may serve as a basis of instruction or early intervention for children at risk of developing reading disability.

* Use of pictures aided memory and use of a combination of recognition tasks and production tasks made for more sensitive measures that allowed researchers to examine a broader range of phonological awareness ability.

"The present findings support a special role of PA in preschool-age children’s early literacy development. These children’s phonological awareness was clearly distinguishable from their general cognitive abilities, RAN abilities, and PM abilities. More importantly, relative to all of the PPA and general cognitive ability, PA was the best predictor of older preschool children’s decoding skills."

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Stage-Sequential Model of Reading Transitions: Evidence From the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study

Kaplan, D. and Walpole, S. (2005) A stage-sequential model of reading transitions: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology 97(4), 551–563.    

Researchers used latent transition analysis to analyze data from the U.S. Gov. sponsored Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (NCES, 2001) to examine reading development during kindergarten and 1st-grade. Data from more than 22,000 children attending 1000 public schools includes poverty status and dichotomous measures of reading at 4 different time periods. In each time period, 5 latent classes were represented: low alphabet knowledge, early phonological processing, advanced phonological processing, early word reading, and early reading comprehension.

Findings indicated in the abstract:
". . . children living below poverty are less likely to experience successful reading transitions than their above-poverty peers. However, children in the below-poverty group who began kindergarten with at least early phonological processing experienced transition probabilities similar to their above-poverty peers. Researchers should target and test preschool interventions for their potential efficacy to mediate the effects of poverty on early reading."

This study responds to established theory (Chall, 1983; Ehri, 1987, 1995, 1999) that there are discrete stages in reading acquisition and considers the likelihood that young children progress across these stages into conventional reading by the end of first grade.

The study tests the assumptions that developing readers progress through stages of development and the stages have distinct characteristics, are based on solid theory, and they can be measured. This study focuses solely on the foundational knowledge (Letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, and phoneme-grapheme relationship knowledge) needed to read unknown words rather than methods of acquiring sight words.

Research Questions:
1. Given data on important reading indicators for many individuals across the kindergarten and first-grade years, can we form latent classes?
2. Are these classes represented across the reading acquisition window (kindergarten and first grade)?
3. Given membership in a given class, what is the probability of movement into a successive class over time?
4. Is this probability of movement related to poverty status?

Reading achievement was defined by measures of letter recognition, knowledge of initial sounds
in words, knowledge of final sounds in words, word reading in isolation, and reading comprehension (at the sentence level). Reading achievement followed a pattern of mastering low complexity skills prior to mastery of higher complexity skills.

Latent transition analysis allowed researchers to investigate whether there were similar latent classes (discrete phases of development) for groups of individuals in the study at each of four time periods, and to estimate the statistical probability that individual members in a latent class would transition to a more advanced latent class at four different time points from the start of kindergarten to the end of first grade. They found five latent classes existing in different proportions at different times, providing evidence of a sequential order of knowledge: low alphabet knowledge; early phonemic awareness; advanced phonemic awareness; early word reading; early reading comprehension. 

In each class, the relationships among variables were stable. A high probability of passing the beginning sounds task was achieved only after mastery of the alphabet knowledge task. Similarly, the probability of passing the sight word task was achieved only after mastering ending sounds. The most complex skill, identifying words in context, was achieved only after mastery of all other tasks and only during first grade. Early reading comprehension, however, did not appear totally dependent on mastery of less complex tasks for a relatively small number of the sample. 

Poverty Level Analyses
At the start of kindergarten, more children living in poverty level households began reading instruction with low alphabet knowledge compared with their peers living above poverty; by the spring of kindergarten, 75% of children living above poverty had attained at least advanced phonemic awareness, while only 53% of peers living below poverty had. In fall of first grade, 43% of those above poverty were at an early word learning phase or early reading comprehension compared with 21% of those below poverty. By the end of first grade, 87% of the the above poverty group were early word readers, in contrast to 30% of low-SES peers.

Also of interest were transition probabilities for children above and below poverty. Between the fall and spring of kindergarten, children who entered kindergarten with early phonemic awareness were likely to progress, regardless of SES. This sample, however, had large numbers of children living below poverty with low alphabet knowledge, making no movement even following a year of instruction. 60% of the children in the low-alphabet-knowledge latent class above poverty maintained their latent class membership (while 40% moved upward), but 81% of low SES children maintained  latent class membership (while only 19% moved). In the fall of first grade, children above poverty with at least advanced PA progressed beyond that level, while children below poverty, beginning at that same status (advanced PA) were unlikely to make any progress. In fact, the probability of .86 in the below-poverty group failing to advanced by the end of first grade mirrors Juel’s (1988) findings that poor readers, especially those who leave kindergarten with weak phonological skills, experience little reading success later. Children living in poverty who start first grade with advanced PA but not early word learning are much less likely to progress during first grade than their peers living above poverty. 

Author Comments Regarding Intervention: 
"Our study suggests that timing matters, especially for children living in poverty. Between fall and spring of kindergarten and between spring of kindergarten and fall of first grade, children with low alphabet knowledge are unlikely to progress to more advanced understandings. That time, then, is an especially important one for testing the efficacy of interventions and their effect on these transitions. Similarly, all children are unlikely to make progress in their basic reading skills during the summer months between kindergarten and first grade; given this finding and the work of others on the importance of summer (e.g., Alexander et al., 2001), this is another time when the impact of intervention on children’s literacy transitions might be explored. Finally, for those children who enter first grade with advanced phonemic awareness, children living in poverty are much less likely than their peers with more economic advantages to move to early word reading or early reading comprehension; interventions which target the achievement of these children during the first-grade year may have profound effects on their literacy transitions (p. 560)."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Longitudinal Twin Study of Early Literacy Development: Preschool and KindergartenPhases.

Byrne, B., Wadsworth, S., Corley, R., Samuelsson, S. Quain, P., DeFries, J. C., Willcutt, E., and Olson, R. K. (2005). Longitudinal twin study of early literacy development: Preschool and kindergarten phases. Scientific Studies of Reading, 9(3), 219–235.

This study is a behavior–genetic analysis of kindergarten reading, spelling, phonological awareness, rapid naming, and spoken sentence processing involving 172 pairs of monozygotic and 153 pairs of same-sex dizygotic twin kindergarten children from the U.S. and Australia. U.S. sample was obtained using birth records in the state of Colorado. Australian sample were recruited voluntarily indicating an interest in research. Children from Australia were generally younger. U.S. children had parents who generally self-reported higher levels of education than Australian parents.

From the abstract:
[The study] modeled progress from preschool to kindergarten in literacy-related skills, with larger numbers of twins contributing to the preschool phase. Reading, phonological awareness, and rapid naming at kindergarten showed substantial effects of genes and modest effects of shared environment; spelling was influenced by genes and environment equally; and sentence processing was affected primarily by shared environment. Longitudinal analyses indicated that the same genes affect phonological awareness in preschool and kindergarten but that a new genetic factor comes into play in rapid naming as letters and digits are introduced in kindergarten. At preschool, print knowledge and phonological awareness share one source of genetic influence, which in turn affects reading and spelling in kindergarten. Phonological awareness is subject to a second genetic factor, but only the one it shares with print also influences kindergarten reading and spelling. In contrast to the genetic effects, a single source of shared environment affects preschool print knowledge and phonological awareness and kindergarten reading. (p. 219)

Test of Word Reading Efficiency. In the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE) source: Torgesen,Wagner, & Rashotte, 1999
Spelling Test (dog, man, one, said, blue, come, plug, went, limp, tree) and 4 nonwords (ig, sut, frot, yilt).  Adapted from Liberman, Rubin, Duquès, and Carlisle (1985)
Rapid naming. 3 versions: colors, digits, and letters, from the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP)  Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1999.
Phonological awareness tests. CTOPP (a) Elision (b) Blending (c) Sound Matching
Test for the Reception of Grammar. Bishop (1989) tests child’s command of grammatical structures.
Letter-sound knowledge. Children asked to point to the letter in a line of four that represented the letter-sound supplied by the tester. 26 letters tested.

Results and Discussion

Phenotypic Analyses
Australian twins scored higher than U.S. twins on all variables. (Neither gender nor age explain differences.)  Inequalities in effect size may be due to schooling practices: Australian children attend full day kindergarten while Colorado children attend half days. Because of the country differences, all scores were standardized within country prior to further analyses. Variables also adjusted for age and gender.
 Reading, spelling, and phonological awareness accounted for 58.0%variance. Rapid naming tests accounted for 11.6%variance. Grammar Reception test accounted for 7.76% of variance.

Genetic Analyses
For the genetic analyses, components were subdivided into reading, spelling, and phonological awareness. R
eading, phonological awareness, and rapid naming latent traits showed heritability and some shared environment effects. Spelling showed a gene and and environment effect, while grammar had only an environment effect. Phonological awareness latent traits among the preschool children were based on several tasks: elision, blending, and matching of rhymes, beginning and final phonemes. Kindergarten measures were the same except the rhyme component. Environmental factors were not reliable for either group, and individual differences in phonological awareness was continuous from K to Gr. 1. 

When analyzing relationships to print knowledge, results indicated that phonological awareness exerts genetic influence on later reading only through genes that it shares with print knowledge. Preschool print knowledge is about half as influenced by genes as is kindergarten reading, but the genetic correlation between these variables is higher (.79) than the genetic correlation between preschool phonological awareness and kindergarten reading (.54).  

Although phonological awareness appears to be an inherited trait in this study, more so than print knowledge, only some of the genetic traits influence variability in reading and spelling at the end of kindergarten. One possible interpretation is that the preschool environmental varies for print familiarity, where children are encouraged to learn the alphabet, resulting in a lower estimate of heritability than would likely be the case in a less explicit environment. Genetic variation becomes more visible when children share a similar classroom environment, learning to associate letters and words with speech. 

Research into effective practices that help those children with a genetic predisposition to develop later reading problems is warranted by this study, with particular emphasis on developing phoneme awareness in young children.

Effects of Rhyming, Vocabulary, and Phonemic Awareness Instruction on Phoneme Awareness

Yeh, S., and Connell, D. B. (2008). Effects of rhyming, vocabulary and phonemic awareness instruction on phoneme awareness. Journal of Research in Reading, 31(2), 243-256.

Head Start curricula use rhyme and vocabulary activities to promote phoneme awareness in young children. The authors hypothesize that preschool children are better prepared for reading if they are directly taught segmentation and blending. To test this hypothesis, three conditions were examined 1) direct instruction in phoneme segmentation and blending, 2) rhyming activities, and 3) vocabulary activities. Since research demonstrates a strong causal link between reading ability and demonstrated ability to segment and blend phonemes in spoken language, this was the outcome measure.

128 preschool children ages 4 yrs 3 mos - 5 yrs 2 mos, 16 Head Start classrooms.
All from low income households. Racially diverse but mostly Black (72%). All were non-readers with low levels of phonemic awareness before the study. 14 weeks of intervention instruction under three different conditions.

Phonemic Awareness  (Phonological Awareness Test, Robertson & Salter, 1995)
Letter-sound knowledge (gramphemes subtests of  Phonological Awareness Test )
Decoding (Subtest of Phonological Awareness Test)
Word recognition (Woodcock-Johnson,R)
Rhyming (Phonological Awareness Test)
Vocabulary (PPVT-III)

Phoneme segmentation group instruction:
Used three letter words; focused on segmentation, blending, and substitution; manipulated spellings of words to form new words, read sentences based on words, used materials from Phono-Graphix programme (McGuinness, 1999).

Other two groups,  provided only incidental exposure to letter-sound relationships ththrough normal story reading and invented spelling activities. Segmentation group emphasized phonemic activities where phonemes were modelled and exaggerated, and response was reinforced until children learned to match sounds and graphemes and sound out short words.

Rhyming group has rhyming activities as outlined in the regular curriculum (Adams, Foorman, Lundberg, and Beeler, 1998). Children would be asked to provide a rhyming word to finish a sentence, for example. They would also provide words to complete sentences with the same initial consonant rather than a rhyme.

Vocabulary development group: Teachers preinstructed vocabulary, read books aloud, emphasized words and reread stories. They asked about the features of the words and questions using the words.  This group also traced letters and used invented spelling to "write" stories.

Instruction emphasizing phoneme segmentation and blending was more effective in developing these two abilities than the rhyming or vocabulary group. Phoneme segmentation skill appears to be a clear predictor of a future ability to read.

Children as young as 4 who are minority, low income children can be taught phoneme segmentation, blending, and letter-sound relationships. The finding contradicts prevailing views among Head Start staff that systematic instruction in complex tasks such as segmentation and blending and letter-sound relationships is developmentally inappropriate. The study is consistent with prior research suggesting the importance of teaching segmentation tasks.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Early Childhood Educators’ Knowledge of Early Literacy Development

Crim,  C., Hawkins, J., Thornton, J., Rosof, H., Copley, J., and Thomas, E. (2008) Early childhood educators’ knowledge of early literacy development. Issues in Teacher Education, 17(1), 17-30.

Study examined early childhood educators knowledge of syllables, morphemes, and phonemes.
Participants were 64 Early Childhood educators randomly selected.  9.8 years avg teaching experience All worked with preschool children (3, 4 and 5) in public school prekindergarten. kindergarten , and preschool programs for children with disabilities.

Results: Syllabication performance high (67-95% accuracy). Dialect may account for failure to identify some syllables accurately such as the -en- in gardener, however no provision to rule out dialect was used to account for variance.

Teacher had the most difficulty identifying morphemes with levels of inaccuracy ranging from 67.5 to 95% inaccurate.  56% failed to even complete this section of the assessments.

Teachers’ Accuracy in Identifying Morphemes in Words (n=54)
Word               Number           % Teachers      % Teachers
                   of Morphemes      Responding     Responding
                                                 Correctly*      Incorrectly*
Salamander      1                     15%                85%
Crocodile        1                      17.5%             82.5%
Attached          3                     5%                  95%
Unbelievable    3                     17.5%             82.5%
Finger              1                     17.5%             82.5%
Pies                 2                     10%                90%
Gardener         2                     32.5%             67.5%
Psychometrics 3                     7.5%               92.5%
* Results rounded to the nearest whole or half percentage point

Teachers also had trouble with phoneme counting, however, only 11% did not complete the task. Results of teacher knowledge demonstrate a weakness for identifying phonemes in words with inaccuracy rates ranging from 40-80%.

Teacher Accuracy in Identifying Phonemes in Words (n=54)
Word               Number of      % Teachers     % Teachers
                         Phonemes       Responding     Responding
                                                  Correctly*     Incorrectly*
Ox                            3           15%               85%
Boil                           3           60%               40%
King                          3           37.5%            62.5%
Thank                        4           37.5%            62.5%
Straight                      5           22.5%            77.5%
Shout                         3           55%               45%
Precious                     6           15%               85%
* Results rounded to the nearest whole or half percentage point
Results indicate a need for teacher professional development and pre-service teacher instruction to increase teacher knowledge in the area of phonological awareness for teachers to be competent in the early childhood classroom.  This knowledge base and these skills in particular are critical for supporting students’ early literacy development.

"The findings of this study intensify the concern that many early childhood educators are not adequately prepared to teach young children how to identify syllables, morphemes, and phonemes. As these three areas have been linked to future reading achievement (Moats, 1994; Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte,1994), a vast number of young children may be at serious risk for missing this critical stage in literacy development and succeeding as literacy learners. Clearly, appropriate instruction in these areas of phonological awareness can increase a student’s success
with early literacy skills (Mather, Bos, & Babur, 2001; Bos et al., 2001; Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte,1994). The children in the classrooms targeted in this study, already identified as high need due to language and socioeconomic status, do not have teachers that currently have the
necessary skills to provide appropriate and systematic instruction in phonological awareness (p. 28)."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Effects of Home Literacy, Parents' Beliefs, and Children's Task-Focused Behavior on Emergent Literacy and Word Reading Skills.

Stephenson, K. A., Parrila, R. K., and Georgiou, G. K.(2008). Effects of home literacy, parents' beliefs, and children's task-focused behavior on emergent literacy and word reading skills. Scientific Studies of Reading, 12(1), 24-50.

Correlational Study

Given that few studies examine the efficacy of home literacy experiences such as storybook reading or parent attitude toward their children's reading ability, the authors decided to investigate these factors in order to shed some light on home experiences that may or may not have an effect on emergent literacy skills.  

Purpose of study: examine effects of home literacy including shared book reading, teaching activities, and number of books; children's on-task behavior, and parents' beliefs about reading ability.

Past studies indicate that storybook exposure is likely related to language, emergent literacy and later reading achievement. It may be associated, for instance, with better vocabulary and listening comprehension skills, but not phonological sensitivity, letter-name knowledge, or letter-sound knowledge. Neither has it been associated with better reading skills in Gr. 1 and 3. Informal teaching activities were, however, significantly associated with better written language skills and knowledge of letter names and sounds, but not phonological sensitivity. Those children who could recognize letters and read word before kindergarten were better readers in grade one than those who only were read books in the home (Kirby and Hogan, 2007).

61 children (Canadian) 9 teachers, random selection. Whether child attended preschool (50% did) did not correlate with any dependent measures. 53 students final sample number due to attrition or grade retention.

Children tested at beginning of K for letter name knowledge, and phonological sensitivity (CTOPP blending words task). Children's parents responded to a questionnaire on literacy environment and parent beliefs/expectations. End of K, children tested for elision task, letter sound knowledge, word ID, PPVT-III and Raven's Matrices, also rated for task focus in classroom (max score=25). Delayed posttesting given in April/May of gr. 1 for Word ID and Test of Word Reading Efficiency (Torgesen, Wagner, and Rashotte, 1999).

Home literacy assessed with 6 Likert-scale questions
How often cild taught to identify letters?
How often child taught letter sounds?
How often child taught to read words between ages of 2-4?
How often child is read to in the home?
How many children's books in the home?
How many books in the home?

Attitude questions:
How well do you believe your child reads?
Your child finds reading very easy . . . very hard
To do well in reading, you child has to try . . . not at all hard . . . very hard
How well do you think our child will do in rading later on in school?
How well do yo believe your child does at school?
Your child finds school very easy . . . very hard
To do well in school your child has to try  . . not at all hard . . . very hard
How well do you tink your child will do at school in the future?

Teacher questionnaire rating on-task focus
Does student find something else to do instead of focusing on task in hand?
Does student actively attempt to solve difficult situations and tasks?
Does student give up easily?
Does student demonstrate initiative and persistence in activities and tasks?
If activity is not going well, does student lose focus?


In Kindergarten, word ID standard scores were average. Gr 1 standard showed well developed word ID skills, however, he measurement instrument was not standardized. Elision and blending were combined to make a new variable - phonological sensitivity. Letter name and sound were combined to letter knowledge variable. (both sets highly correlated). Grade 1 reading and TOWRE were combined to make a single variable, also.

Although environmental factors and on-task behavior correlated with dependent measures, neither predicted variance when emergent literacy skills were controlled. Parent reports of children being taught letter names and sounds correlated with all the dependent variables. Parent reports of children being taught letter names and sounds did not predict phonological sensitivity. Direct teaching did not predict word reading. Parent beliefs about children's reading and task-focused behaviors were highly correlated with reading measures. Analyses indicate that parent teaching in the home before kindergarten is a factor for the development of phonological sensitivity, letter knowledge and word reading. Story reading frequency and number of books did not show effects. Results were consistent with Senechal and LeFevre's findings (2002). Something that needs further examination is whether direct teaching activities take place outside of shared book reading or during other activities such as writing. Parents more likely to coach letter knowledge and word identification during kindergarten and first gr rather than during preschool years.  Children's task focused behavior predicted variance in letter knowledge and word reading in K when nonverbal IQ and vocabulary knowledge were controlled. Parents beliefs about children's current reading ability predicted variance in phonological sensitivity and word ID in K when nonv IQ and vocabulary were controlled.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Is Reading Important in Reading Readiness Programs? A Randomized Field Trial with Teachers as Program Implementers

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L.S., Thompson, A., al Otaiba, S., Yen, L., Yang, N.J., Braun, M., and O'Connor, R. (2001). Is reading important in reading readiness programs? A randomized field trial with teachers as program implementers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(2), 251-267.

Purpose of study: to examine the effectiveness of PA training with and without beginning decoding instructions.

33 teachers, 404 children, 2 treatment groups and one control. G1= PA training, G2= PA + beginning decoding (20 wks) Pre and posttest data collected.
Many researchers in training studies taught PA in isolation rather than with decoding instruction (phoneme-grapheme relationships) holding the perspective that PA is a prerequisite skill for reading conducted prior to rather than with formal reading instruction, however, there are many studies supporting concurrent instruction.

Research questions for this study: Does phonological awareness training differentially affect student performance on phonological tasks? Does beginning decoding instruction and practice influence student performance on letter sounds, reading, and spelling measures?

Treatments: Ladders to Literacy workbook with 15 select activities to stimulate syllable and word awareness, rhyming, first sound isolation, onset-rime blending, and sound segmenting. PALS Activities: Peer Assisted Learning Strategies are scripted coaching that children provide each other. The two strategies were "What sound?" and  "What Word?"
Link to a video of what these look like in practice:

At the end of kindergarten, both treated groups performed comparably on posttreatment phonological awareness tasks which was a combined score for segmentation and blending tasks, and both outperformed controls.

On alphabetic reading and decoding tasks, Ladders + PALS students did better than other two groups with effect sizes ranging from .08-1.42 when compared to the control group and .02-1.96 when compared with the Ladders only group.  Ladders and control student performance were about the same for alphabetic tasks.  Effects were consistent in both Title I and non-Title I schools. The conclusion of the researchers: kindergarten children can be taught phonological awareness and decoding skills; practice with both simultaneously strengthens beginning reading reading more than PA training alone. Results provide some weak evidence for a bidirectional phonological awareness-early reading relationship.

In the follow-up (5 months post instruction) when all groups were in their second month of first grade (October), there was no statistically significant difference between the two treatment groups and the control group on alphabetic measures, however, the treatment groups continued to have statistically significant scores compared to the control group on phonological awareness tasks.

Of note: Not all Ladders and Ladders +PALS students had positive outcome with the treatments. Nonresponders were not all categorized as children with disabilities. Among the nine with disabilities in the L + P group, there was growth on Word identification and word attack of as much as 16 points, but 5 of the 9 made no gains, indicating that this instructional program accommodates some students but not all.