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."

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