Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Research has consistently demonstrated that literacy skills are associated with a host of benefits that are both substantial and long lasting. Given the implications of reading skill development, efforts to understand the most effective methods of teaching students how to read are consequential. Fortunately, substantial research has been conducted on this topic and has subsequently highlighted two essential building blocks of a balanced literacy framework: phonemic awareness and phonics. The current literature on the reading acquisition process shows that if students are to benefit from phonics instruction, they must have a certain level of phonemic awareness proficiency. The question remains, however, as to the amount of phonemic awareness mastery one must have to maximally benefit from formal phonics programming. The current study utilized a randomized, quasi-experimental group design with a delayed treatment control component to compare the reading outcomes of early elementary students who master phonemic awareness prior to phonics instruction versus those who begin phonics with only rudimentary phonemic awareness skill development. Effects on participants’ phonemic segmentation, letter naming, and pseudoword reading scores were examined through repeated measures analyses of variance. In sum, participants in both treatment groups demonstrated substantial mean gains in reading skills over time. Furthermore, when equating for instructional time across conditions, participants exhibited relatively superior literacy ability when phonemic awareness was mastered prior to beginning extensive phonics instruction. The implications of these findings for the reading acquisition process in applied settings are discussed, in addition to recommendations for future research.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Noell, George



Included in

Psychology Commons