, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 97-122

Computer-based phonological awareness and reading instruction

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Abstract

Reading with Orthographic and Segmented Speech (ROSS) programs use talking computers to deal with deficits in word recognition and phonological awareness. With ROSS, children read stories on a computer screen. Whenever they encounter a word they find difficult, they can request assistance by targeting the word with a mouse. The program highlights the word in segments and then pronounces the segments in order. In previous studies, children improved in reading, but children with relatively lower initial phonological awareness (PA) gained less than the others. In order to maximize the benefits from ROSS for all children, the current study aimed to improve PA before and while reading with ROSS, by using some programs based on theAuditory Discrimination in Depth method (Lindamood and Lindamood 1975), and others focusing on phoneme manipulation with speech feedback for all responses. The study compared the effects of this training with training in Comprehension Strategies (CS) based on Reciprocal Teaching techniques (Palincsar and Brown 1984), among second- to fifth-grade students with problems in word recognition. While both groups received equal instructional time in small-groups and with the computer, the groups differed in how much time they spent reading words in context. Whereas PA children spent half their computer time on PA exercises involving individual words and half reading words in context with ROSS, the CS group spent all their computer time reading words in context with ROSS. Both groups made significant gains in decoding, word recognition, and comprehension; however the PA groups gained significantly more than the CS group on all untimed tests of phoneme awareness, word recognition, and nonsense word reading. The CS children performed better on a test of time-limited word recognition; they also achieved higher comprehension scores, although only while reading with a trainer. The PA children’s improved decoding skill led to greater accuracy, but slower responses with difficult words, after one semester’s training.