Phonemic awareness instruction with children at risk of reading failure.


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Although reading is a set of skills critical to long term educational and vocational outcomes, many children in the United States are at risk of reading failure for a variety of reasons. For these children, establishing sufficient levels of phonemic awareness in the early grades is critical for the successful development of word reading skills and, indirectly, reading comprehension. The present dissertation combines the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of the existing literature on the use of phonemic awareness interventions with children at risk of reading failure with a single case investigation of one such intervention used with second grade students struggling to read. Based on a review of the existing literature, the effects of phonemic awareness interventions used with at-risk children are significant but the magnitude of these effects vary with respect to the target outcome, with average Hedge’s g values ranging from .25 to .57. The results continue to indicate that phonemic awareness instruction is generally the most effective when graphemes are incorporated appropriately and intervention is provided sooner rather than later. Instruction can be effective when provided by a variety of school personnel, though the strongest outcomes were produced by interventions implemented by speech-language pathologists. Intervention has also been demonstrated to be efficacious when delivered individually, in small groups, or in larger groups such as through whole class instruction. The adjoining single case investigation of contextualized phonemic awareness instruction provided to second grade students also indicates that phonemic awareness instruction conducted over a relatively short period of time can affect significant substantial change. Based on the results of the included single case research, contextualizing phonemic awareness instruction might help affect generalized change across multiple outcomes related to children’s ability to successfully read. Together, this meta-analysis and single case investigation continue to support the provision of appropriately designed phonemic awareness instruction children at risk of reading failure to support the acquisition of basic reading skills necessary to engage in the general education curriculum.



Phonemic awareness. Education. Children. Reading skills.