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)."

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