Skip to main content
Log in

Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonemically based decoding skills as an intervention strategy for struggling readers in whole language classrooms

  • Published:
Reading and Writing Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine whether explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonemically based decoding skills would be an effective intervention strategy for children with early reading difficulties in a whole language instructional environment. Twenty-four 6- and 7-year-old struggling readers were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group, with the intervention group being divided into four groups of three children each. The intervention program was carried out over a period of 24 weeks and comprised 56 highly sequenced, semi-scripted lessons in phonemic awareness and alphabetic coding skills delivered by a teacher aide who received training and ongoing support from a remedial reading specialist. Posttests results showed that the intervention group significantly outperformed the control group on measures of phonemic awareness, pseudoword decoding, context free word recognition, and reading comprehension. Two-year follow-up data indicated that the positive effects of the intervention program were not only maintained but had generalized to word recognition accuracy in connected text.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Adams, M. J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Adams, M. J., & Bruck, M. (1993). Word recognition: The interface of educational policies and scientific research. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 5, 113–139.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Adams, M. J., Foorman, B. R., Lundberg, I., & Beeler, T. (1998). Phonemic awareness in young children: A classroom curriculum. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blaiklock, K. E. (1997). Bring back the Burt: Some comments on the value of word recognition tests for the assessment of reading. New Zealand Reading Forum, 2, 13–16.

    Google Scholar 

  • Byrne, B. (2005). Theories of learning to read. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 104–119). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Chapman, J. W., Tunmer, W. E., & Prochnow, J. E. (2001). Does success in the Reading Recovery program depend on developing proficiency in phonological processing skills? A longitudinal study in a whole language instructional context. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5, 141–176.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clay, M. M. (1993). Reading recovery. Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  • Connelly, V., Johnston, R., & Thompson, G. B. (2001). The effects of phonics instruction on the reading comprehension of beginning readers. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 14, 423–457.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Connor, C. M., Morrison, F. J., & Katch, L. E. (2004). Beyond the reading wars: Exploring the effect of child-instruction interactions on growth in early reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 8, 305–336.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cunningham, P. M., & Hall, D. P. (1998). Month by month phonics for first grade: Systematic multilevel instruction. Greensboro, NC: Casson-Dellosa Publishing Company, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Educators Publishing Service, Inc. (1995). Primary phonics. Cambridge, MA: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ehri, L. C. (1992). Reconceptualising the development of sight word reading and its relationship to recoding. In P. Gough, L. C. Ehri, & R. Treiman (Eds.), Reading acquisition (pp. 107–143). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ehri, L. C. (1997). Sight word learning in normal readers and dyslexics. In B. Blachman (Ed.), Foundations of reading intervention and dyslexia: Implications for early intervention (pp. 163–189). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ehri, L. C. (2004). Teaching phonemic awareness and phonics. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 153–186). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ehri, L. C. (2005). Development of sight word reading: Phases and findings. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 135–154). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Eldredge, J. L. (1995). Teaching decoding in holistic classrooms. Princeton, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Elkonin, D. R. (1973). U.S.S.R. In J. Downing (Ed.), Comparative reading (pp. 551–580). New York: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gerber, S. B., Finn, J. D., Achilles, C. M., & Boyd-Zaharias, J. (2001). Teacher aides and students’ academic achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 23, 123–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gilmore, A., Croft, C., & Reid, N. (1981). Burt word reading test: New Zealand revision. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Glynn, T. (1994). Pause, prompt, praise: Seventeen years on. Best of set: Families and schools. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

  • Gough, P. B., & Hillinger, M. L. (1980). Learning to read: An unnatural act. Bulletin of the Orton Society, 30, 179–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gough, P. B., & Walsh, M. A. (1991). Chinese, phoenicians, and the orthographic cipher. In S. A. Brady & D. Shankweiler (Eds.), Phonological processes in literacy: A tribute to Isabelle Y. Liberman (pp. 199–209). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Greaney, K. T., Tunmer, W. E., & Chapman, J. W. (1997). Effects of rime-based orthographic analogy training on the word recognition skills of children with reading disability. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 645–651.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Harm, M. W., & Seidenberg, M. S. (1999). Phonology, reading acquisition and dyslexia: Insights from connectionist models. Psychological Review, 106, 491–528.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hatcher, P. J., Hulme, C., & Ellis, A. W. (1994). Ameliorating early reading failure by integrating the teaching of reading and phonological skill: The phonological linkage hypothesis. Child Development, 65, 41–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Herman, R. (1993). The Herman method for reversing reading failure. Sherman Oaks, CA: Romar Publications, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hulme, C., Snowling, M. J., & Quinlan, P. (1991). Connectionism and learning to read: Steps toward a phonologically plausible model. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 3, 159–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iversen, S. A., & Tunmer, W. E., (1993). Phonological processing skill and the Reading Recovery program. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 112–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iversen, S., Tunmer, W. E., & Chapman, J. W. (2005). The effects of varying group size on the Reading Recovery approach to preventative early intervention. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 38, 456–472.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Juel, C., & Minden-Cupp, C. (2000). Learning to read words: Linguistic units and instructional strategies. Reading Research Quarterly, 35, 458–492.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Keith, M. (2002). Picking up the pace: A summary. Auckland, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  • McGuinness, D. (1997). Why our children can’t read and what we can do about it. New York: Simon and Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  • McNaughton, S. (2002). Meeting of minds. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of Education. (1996). Special education 2000. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of Education. (2003a). Effective literacy practice in years 1 to 4. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of Education. (2003b). Sound sense: Phonics and phonological awareness. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  • Modern Curriculum Press. (1986). Phonics practice readers. Cleveland, OH: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morris, D., Tyner, T., & Perney, J. (2000). Early steps: Replicating the effects of a first-grade reading intervention program. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 681–693.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neale, M. M. (1988). Neale analysis of reading ability—revised. Camberwell, Victoria, Australia: Australian council for educational research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nicholson, T. (2000). Reading the writing on the wall: Debates, challenges and opportunities in the teaching of reading. Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nicholson, T. (2003). Risk factors in learning to read. In B. Foorman (Ed.), Preventing and remediating reading difficulties: Bringing science to scale (pp. 165–193). Timonium, MD: York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Oakhill, J., & Beard, R. (1999). Reading development and the teaching of reading. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Connor, R. E., Notari-Syverson, A., & Vadasy, P. F. (1998). Ladders to literacy: A kindergarten activity book. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Perfetti, C. A. (1985). Reading ability. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Perfetti, C. A. (1991). The psychology, pedagogy, and politics of reading. Psychological Science, 2, 70–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Perfetti, C. A. (1992). The representation problem in reading acquisition. In P. Gough, L. Ehri, & R. Treiman (Eds.), Reading acquisition (pp. 107–143). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pressley, M. (2006). Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Richardson, E., & DiBenedetto, B. (1985). Decoding skills test. Parkton, MD: York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Robertson, C., & Salter, W. (1997). The phonological awareness test. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shankweiler, D., & Fowler, A. E. (2004). Questions people ask about the role of phonological processes in learning to read. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 17, 483–515.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Share, D. L. (1995). Phonological recoding and self-teaching: Sine qua non of reading acquisition. Cognition, 55, 151–218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, J. W.A, & Elley, W. B. (1994) Learning to read in New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Longman Paul.

    Google Scholar 

  • Snow, C. E., & Juel, C. (2005). Teaching children to read: What do we know about how to do it? In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 501–520). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Stanovich, K. E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 340–406.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stanovich, K. E. (1994). Constructivism in reading education. The Journal of Special Education, 28, 259–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steck-Vaughn Company. (1991). Phonics readers. Austin, TX: Author.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tracey, D. H., & Morrow, L. M. (2006). Lenses on reading: An introduction to theories and models. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tunmer, W. E., Chapman, J. W. (1998). Language prediction skill, phonological recoding ability and beginning reading. In C. Hulme & R. M. Joshi (Eds.), Reading and spelling: Development and disorder (pp. 33–67). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tunmer, W. E., & Chapman, J. W. (2002). The relation of beginning readers’ reported word identification strategies to reading achievement, reading-related skills, and academic self-perceptions. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 15, 341–358.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tunmer, W. E., & Chapman, J. W. (2003). The Reading Recovery approach to preventive early intervention: As good as it gets? Reading Psychology, 24, 337–360.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tunmer, W. E., & Chapman, J. W. (2006). Metalinguistic abilities, phonological recoding skills, and the use of sentence context in beginning reading development: A longitudinal study. In R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.), Handbook of orthography and literacy (pp. 617–635). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tunmer, W. E., Chapman, J. W., & Prochnow, J. E. (2003). Preventing negative Matthew effects in at-risk readers: A retrospective study. In B. Foorman (Ed.), Preventing and remediating reading difficulties: Bringing science to scale (pp. 121–163). Timonium, MD: York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tunmer, W. E., Chapman, J. W., & Prochnow, J. E. (2004). Why the reading achievement gap in New Zealand won’t go away: Evidence from the PIRLS 2001 international study of reading achievement. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 39, 127–145.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tunmer, W. E., Chapman, J. W., & Prochnow, J. E. (in press). Literate cultural capital at school entry predicts later reading achievement: A seven year longitudinal study. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies..

  • Tunmer, W. E., Prochnow, J. E., Greaney, K. T., & Chapman, J. W. (in press). What’s wrong with New Zealand’s national literacy strategy? In R. Openshaw & J. Soler (Eds.), Reading across international boundaries: History, policy and politics. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

  • Whitehurst, G. J., & Lonigan, C. J. (2001). Emergent literacy: Development from prereaders to readers. In S. B. Neuman & D. K. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research (pp. 11–29). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilkinson, I. A. G., Freebody, P. M., & Elkins, J. (2000). Reading research in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (Vol. 3, pp. 3–16). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Xue, Y., & Meisels, S. J. (2004). Early literacy instruction and learning in kindergarten: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study—kindergarten class of 1998–1999. American Educational Research Journal, 41, 191–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to William E. Tunmer.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ryder, J.F., Tunmer, W.E. & Greaney, K.T. Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness and phonemically based decoding skills as an intervention strategy for struggling readers in whole language classrooms. Read Writ 21, 349–369 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-007-9080-z

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-007-9080-z

Keywords

Navigation