Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



Previous studies exploring the use of superimposed pictures for sight word learning provide mixed results, with inconclusive benefits. One criticism is that even when sight word learning is enhanced, it does not improve the learner’s use of the alphabetic principle. A second criticism is that it is only feasible for easily depicted words. This study addressed these criticisms by using pictured sight words representing a hybrid between alphabet and sight word learning, MorphoPhonic Faces (MPF). MPF have the first letter drawn in the mouth of a face suggesting speech production cues. Thus, participants were provided alphabet cues first and then with the meaning superimposed into remaining letters. It was proposed that using MPF to teach sight words would result in gains in sight word learning and letter-sound knowledge and decoding. The second criticism was addressed by teaching words from six grammatical classes: nouns, main verbs, pronouns, auxiliary verbs, adverbs and adjectives that varied in the level of abstraction in meaning. Four first graders without known disabilities, identified as poor sight word learners, were taught 14 unknown words weekly, half with printed word cards and half with MPF cards. Results revealed no differences in number of words learned by card type; however, increased retention was noted with MPF. Gain scores for measures of phonemic awareness, letter-sounds, and decoding suggested increased alphabet skills. Qualitative analyses revealed that words from all grammatical classes were learned and that sight word learning is a complex process that involves orthographic form and meaning



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Norris, Janet