Skip to main content

The effect of phonics instruction on the reading comprehension of beginning readers

Abstract

This study investigated whether two groups of6-year-old beginning readers taught to read by aphonics and by a ``book experience'' non-phonicsapproach would differ in reading comprehension as wellas the processes of word recognition. The two groupswere matched for word recognition but despite this, thephonics taught children had higher readingcomprehension. Phonics taught children produced morecontextually appropriate errors, and in both singleword and text reading made more spoken attempts atreading unknown words. The non-phonics taught childrenhad much faster reading reaction times to familiarwords but they scored less in phoneme segmentation andnonword reading tasks. Compared with the non‐phonicsgroup, the phonics group spent more time in attemptsat identifying unknown words and this included usingcontextual information, which apparently resulted inmore rehearsal of the meaning of the story text andhence better reading comprehension performance.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

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

    Google Scholar 

  2. Barr, R. (1975). The effect of instruction on pupil reading strategies, Reading Research Quarterly 10: 555-582.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Beck, I.L. & Block, K.K. (1979). An analysis of two beginning reading programs: Some facts and some opinions. In: L.B. Resnick & P.A. Weaver (eds.), Theory and practice of rarly teading, Vol. 1 (pp. 279-318), Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bond, G.K. & Dykstra, R. (1967). The co-operative research program in first grade reading instruction, Reading Research Quarterly 2: 5-142.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Breznitz, Z. & Share, D.L. (1992). Effects of accelerated reading rate on memory for text, Journal of Educational Psychology 84(2): 193-199.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Carroll, J.B., Davies, P. & Richman, B. (1971). The word frequency book. New York: American Heritage.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Chall, J.S. (1967). Learning to read: The great debate. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Clay, M.M. (1979). The early detection of reading difficulties. London: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Curtis, M.E. (1980). Development of components of reading skill, Journal of Educational Psychology 72: 656-669.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Dunn, L.M. & Dunn, L.M. (1982). British picture vocabulary scale. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Ehri, L.C. (1992). Reconceptualizing the development of sight word reading and its relationship to decoding. In: P.B. Gough, L.C. Ehri & R. Treiman (eds.), Reading acquisition (pp. 107-143), New Jersey: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Elder, R.D. (1971). Oral reading achievement of Scottish and American children. Elementary School Journal 71: 216-230.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Elliott, C.D., Murray, D.J. & Pearson, L.S. (1977). The British ability scales.Windsor: NFERNelson.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Foorman, B.R., Novy, D.M., Francis, D.J. & Liberman, D. (1991). How letter sound instruction mediates progress in 1st grade reading and spelling, Journal of Educational Psychology 83(4): 456-469.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Frith, U. (1985). Beneath the surface of developmental dyslexia. In: Patterson, K.E., Marshall, J.C. & Coltheart, M. (eds.), Surface dyslexia (pp. 301-330), London: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  16. GINN (1988a). Reading 360 levels 1 and 2 teachers resource book. Aylesbury, UK: GINN & Company Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  17. GINN (1988b). Reading 360 levels 3 and 4 teachers resource book. Aylesbury, UK: GINN & Company Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Glynn, T., Crooks, T., Bethune, N., Ballard, K. & Smith, J. (1989). Reading recovery in context. Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Education.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hatcher, P.J., Hulme, C. & Ellis, A.W. (1994). Ameliorating early reading failure by integrating the teaching of reading and phonological skills: the phonological linkage hypothesis, Child Development 65(1): 41-57.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Holligan, C. & Johnston, R.S. (1991). Spelling errors and phonemic segmentation a bility: The nature of the relationship, Journal of Research in Reading 14: 21-32.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Iversen, S. & Tunmer, W.E. (1993). Phonological processing skills and the reading recovery programme, Journal of Educational Psychology 85(1): 112-126.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Johnston, R.S. & Thompson, G.B. (1989). Is dependence on phonological information in childrens reading a product of instructional technique? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 48: 131-145.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Lesgold, A., Resnick, L.B. & Hammond, K. (1985). Learning to read: A longitudinal study of word skill development in two curricula. In: G.E. MacKinnon & T.G. Waller (eds.), Reading research: Advances in theory and practice. Vol. 4 (pp. 107-138), New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Neale, M.D. (1989). Neale analysis of reading ability, Revised British Edition. Windsor, Berkshire, UK; NFER-Nelson.

    Google Scholar 

  25. New Zealand Department of Education (1985). Reading in junior classes (With guidelines to the revised ready to read series). Wellington, New Zealand: Government Printer.

    Google Scholar 

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

    Google Scholar 

  27. Seymour, P.H.K. & Elder, L. (1986). Beginning reading without phonology, Cognitive Neuropsychology 1: 43-82.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Seymour, P.H.K. & Evans, H.M. (1992). Beginning reading without semantics: A cognitive study of hyperlexia, Cognitive Neuropsychology 9: 89-122.

    Google Scholar 

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

    Google Scholar 

  30. Share, D.L. & Stanovich, K.E. (1995). Cognitive processes in early reading development: Accommodating individual differences into a model of acquisition, Issues in Education 1: 1-58.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Smith F. (1978). Understanding reading: A psycholinguistic analysis of reading and learning to read. New York: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Sowden, P.T. & Stevenson, J. (1994). Beginning reading strategies in children experiencing contrasting teaching methods, Reading and Writing 6: 109-123.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Stanovich, K.E. (1980). Towards an interactive-compensatory model of individual differences in the development of reading fluency, Reading Research Quarterly 16: 32-71.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Stanovich, K.E. (1990). Concepts in developmental theories of reading skill: Cognitive resources, automaticity and modularity, Developmental Review 10: 72-100.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Stuart, M. & Coltheart, M. (1988). Does reading develop in a sequence of stages? Cognition 30: 139-181.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Thompson, G.B. (1981). Semantic context and graphic processing in the acquisition of reading, British Journal of Educational Psychology 51: 291-300.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Thompson, G.B. (1982). Initial vocabularies for reading. Set: Research information for teachers. Australian Council for Educational Research. No. 2, Item 3.

  38. Thompson, G.B. (1993). Reading instruction for the initial years in New Zealand Schools. In: G.B. Thompson, W.E. Tunmer & T. Nicholson (eds.), Reading acquisition processes (pp. 148-154), Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Thompson, G.B. & Johnston, R.S. (1993). The effects of type of instruction on processes of reading acquisition. In: G.B. Thompson, W.E. Tunmer & T. Nicholson (eds.), Reading acquisition processes (pp. 74-90), Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Thompson, G.B. & Johnston, R.S. (in press) Are nonword and other phonological deficits indicative of a failed reading process? Reading and Writing (in press).

  41. 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), Hove, UK: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Tunmer, W.E. & Chapman, J.W. (1999). Teaching strategies for word recognition. In: G.B. Thompson & T. Nicholson (eds.), Learning to read: Beyond phonics and whole language (pp. 74-102), New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Tunmer, W.E. & Nesdale, A. R. (1985). Phonemic segmentation skill and beginning reading, Journal of Educational Psychology 77(4): 417-427.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Vellutino, F.R. (1991). Introduction to three studies on reading acquisition, Journal of Educational Psychology 83: 437-443.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Venezky, R.L. (1973). The letter sound generalisations of first, second and third grade Finnish children, Journal of Educational Psychology 64: 288-292.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Yopp, H.K. (1988). The validity and reliability of phonemic awareness tests, Reading Research Quarterly 23: 159-177.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Wimmer, H. & Hummer, P. (1990). How German speaking first graders read and spell: doubts on the importance of the logographic stage, Applied Psycholinguistics 11: 349-368.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Connelly, V., Johnston, R. & Thompson, G.B. The effect of phonics instruction on the reading comprehension of beginning readers. Reading and Writing 14, 423–457 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011114724881

Download citation

  • Comprehension
  • Context
  • Instruction
  • Phonics
  • Rate
  • Teaching