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Does Phoneme Awareness Training in Kindergarten Make a Difference in Early Word Recognition and Developmental Spelling?

Ball, E. W.; Blachman, B. A.
This study examined the effects of phonemic segmentation instruction and letter names and letter sounds instruction on kindergarten students’ spelling and reading skills. Ninety kindergarten students from three urban public schools in Syracuse, New York were selected for the study and randomly placed into one of three groups. The first group received instruction in segmenting words into phonemes as well as the connection between letter names and letter sounds (phoneme awareness group). Activities for the phoneme awareness group included the DISTAR spell-by-sounds program. The second group was only instructed in the connection between letter names and letter sounds (language activities group). The third group received no additional intervention to their normal curriculum (control group). All students were administered the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R), and the Word Identification Subtest of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, as well as testing in phoneme segmentation, alphabet letter names and sounds in February of their kindergarten year. Following the seven weeks of instruction, the students were retested on all measures. Results indicated that the phoneme awareness group made significant gains in early reading and spelling skills in comparison to both the language activities and control groups. There was no significant difference between the scores of the language activities group and the control group in segmentation skills, early reading skills, or spelling skills. Results suggest that the instruction in letter names and letter sounds without phoneme instruction was less effective than when the two forms of instruction were combined. Additionally, the language activities and control groups recorded significant gains in segmenting trained items and matched transfer items, but these gains were significantly smaller than those made by the phoneme awareness group. (Copyright © 2011, National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI). All rights reserved).
Research areas:
Main publication type:
Program Effectiveness
Spelling; reading; phonemic segmentation; phoneme awareness; phonological processing; DISTAR; spell-by-sounds; Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised; Woodcock Reading Mastery Test; word identification
Reading Research Quarterly
Design type:
Randomized Experiment
Fidelity monitored:
Students included:
Kindergarten students
Other tags:
Spelling, reading, Phonemic segmentation, phoneme awareness, phonological processing, DISTAR spell-by-sounds, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – Revised (PPVT-R), Word Identification Subtest of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test
Syracuse, New York, urban public schools
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