09 SES 01 B, Early Literacy Interverventions and Development in Pre- and Primary School: Results from longitudinal studies
There has been a long tradition of research on phonological training to prevent failure to acquire reading skills. Early examples of such studies are Bradley and Bryant (1983) and Lundberg, Frost and Petersen (1988), and results from later training studies have been summarized in several meta-analyses (e.g. Bus & Van Ijzendoorn, 1999, National Reading Panel, 2000; National Early Literacy Panel, 2008). However, even though the results of the training studies show positive effects on development of phonological awareness, the problem with “treatment resistors” has been discussed. Torgesen (2000) found that around two to six percent could be defined as treatment resistors. Thus, some children do not grasp the idea of phonemes as discrete entities, and they do not seem to enhance their phonological skills to an acceptable level by the training.
In the present study phonological awareness training was carried out when children were four and five years old (school starts when children are seven years old in Sweden). The intention was to begin the study at this early stage when children’s explicit awareness of the structure of speech starts to emerge (Wolff & Gustafsson, 2015; Dodd & Gillon, 2001), even though there may be signs of phonological awareness skills among some children two to three years old (Lonigan, Burgess, Anthony & Barker, 1998). The training addressed different aspects of phonological awareness, gradually moving from games and exercises with morphemes and syllables to phonemes. Explicit training of phoneme/grapheme mapping (National Reading Panel, 2000) was later introduced when children were six years old, one year before formal reading instruction started. The overall purpose was to examine if early phonological awareness training may provide preparation so that all children may benefit from the more advanced training at the age of 6 years.
General fluid intelligence (Gf) is a core concept in the field of intelligence. It is interpreted as the capacity to solve novel, complex problems. Gf is highly correlated with phonological awareness in 4-year old children (Wolff & Gustafsson, 2015), and both phonology and Gf have been found to be related to early reading ability (de Jong & van der Leij, 1999). When controlled for Gf the relation between phonology and reading decreased, and it was also found that the direct effect of Gf on reading decreased over time. These findings support the hypothesis that the influence of Gf on early reading skills is mediated through the development of phonological awareness. Thus we may expect that children with high Gf typically will have a more favorable development of phonological awareness skills. One important question here is if the phonological training will decrease or increase this putative influence.
The more specific research questions are: 1) How does structured phonological awareness training starting at the age of 4 affect the further development of phonological awareness 2) Is there an interaction effect of initial phonological ability and phonological training with respect to acquisition of later acquired phonological awareness, such that children low in phonological ability benefit the most? 3) Is there an interaction effect of initial fluid intelligence (Gf) and phonological training with respect to acquisition of later acquired phonological awareness, such that children low in fluid intelligence benefit the most?
The present study thus aims at extending on the rich knowledge of effects of preventive phonological intervention preceding reading instruction. As to our knowledge there has not been any evaluation of phonological awareness training which begins three years before formal reading instruction starts. Even in countries were school starts at an early age, very few interventions have been conducted with children as young as a mean age close to four years old.
Bradley, L. & Bryant, P. (1983). Categorizing sounds and learning to read- a causal connection. Nature, 301, 419-421. Bus, A.G., & Van Ijzendoorn, M.H. (1999).| Phonological Awareness and Early Reading: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental Training Studies. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 403-414. De Jong, P.F., & Van der Leij, A. (1999). Specific contributions of phonological abilities to early reading acquisition: Results from a Dutch latent variable longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 450-476. Dodd, B. & Gillon, G. (2001) Exploring the relationship between phonological awareness, speech impairment, and literacy. Advances in Speech and Language Pathology, 3, 139-147. Lonigan, C., Burgess, S., Anthony, J., & Barker, T. (1998). Development of phonological sensitivity in 2- to 5-year-old children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 294-311. Lundberg, I., Frost, J. & Petersen, O. (1988). Effects on an extensive program for stimulating phonological awareness in pre-school children. Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 263-284. Muthén, L. K. & Muthén, B. O. (2012). Mplus User’s Guid. Statistical Analysis with Latent Variables. Version 7. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén. National Early Literacy Panel. (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy. National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington DC: National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development. Torgesen, J.K. (2000). Individual differences in response to early intervention in reading: The lingering problem of treatment resisters. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 15, 55-64. Wolff, U. & Gustafsson, J.-E. (2015). Structure of phonological ability at age four. Intelligence, 53, 108-117. doi.org/10.1016/j.intell.2015.09.003
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