Doctor of Philosophy
This study investigated the effects of individualized writing instruction with and without phonemic segmentation on the standard spelling performance of at-risk first graders. Forty-two students from fifteen non-public elementary school Chapter I programs participated in the study.
Subjects were pretested using the Yopp-Singer Test of Phoneme Segmentation to determine their phonemic awareness level. Students were matched in triads and placed in one of two treatment groups or the control group using a constrained random assignment procedure. The Basic Achievement Skills Individual Screener (BASIS) spelling subtest was administered to assess standard spelling performance.
The first treatment group received individualized writing instruction using a phonemic segmentation procedure based on the work of D. B. Elkonin and used in the Reading Recovery program for at-risk first graders. The second treatment group received individualized writing instruction where teachers supplied correct spellings. The control group received no additional writing instruction emphasizing spelling. Treatment occurred twice weekly for twelve weeks.
Following treatment students were re-evaluated using the BASIS spelling subtest and Yopp-Singer Test of Phoneme Segmentation. The Cognitive Abilities Test was also administered to determine a cognitive ability level for each subject.
Data were analyzed using a 3X3X3 analysis of covariance. Due to the impact phonemic awareness and cognitive ability have on spelling performance, the study stratified students into high, medium and low phonemic awareness levels and high, average and low cognitive ability levels. Results indicated there were no differences among the groups following treatment. As the data analysis progressed a question as to whether either treatment improved phonemic awareness arose. Analysis of variance on the mean differences of phonemic awareness scores indicated there were no significant differences among the three groups.
Study results suggested that use of the Elkonin analysis phonemic segmentation procedure in isolation may have limited benefits in improving spelling for at-risk first graders. Additionally, the study pointed to the need for further research on phonemic awareness training programs and the importance of earmarking financial resources for students who will benefit most from phonemic awareness instruction.
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