Semester of Graduation

May 2023/ Spring 2023


Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Science and Disorders

Document Type



Background: Decoding is a foundational skill for reading, contributing to both reading fluency and comprehension (Lyon et al., 2003). Visual enhancements of alphabetic letters such as shaping letters to resemble words beginning with that sound (e.g., “f” drawn as a flower) (Handler & Fierson, 2011) and associating photographs of lips producing the sounds (Lindamood & Lindamood, 1998) have been shown to improve decoding skills. This study investigated whether a more direct pictured association using faces with alphabet letters placed in the mouth to cue speech sounds, termed Phonic Faces (Norris,2001), would enable students with persistent decoding impairment to acquire orthographic patterns in pseudowords, real words, and reading passages. Methods: A multiple baseline single subject design assessed the effects of Phonic Faces on learning to decode two orthographic patterns. Three participants were taught the short vowel CVC pattern for five weeks using words and pseudowords displayed using Phonic Faces while two long-vowel patterns (CVCe and CVVC) remained in an untrained baseline condition. On week six, a five-week intervention was introduced for the long vowel pattern showing the lowest scores on daily pseudoword probes. Results: The results of the study were suggestive but not conclusive. The graphs of daily probe scores for all three subjects showed significant gains for all three patterns using the two standard deviation method of analysis. However, in all three cases, one or more of the control variables made changes prior to the introduction of treatment. Additionally, pre-to-posttest gains in measures of decoding and contextualized reading showed scores greater than the SEM, indicating true gains. Discussion: Analysis of patterns of change showed generalization of learning across patterns. Once the long vowel Phonic Faces were introduced, improvements were shown for both long vowel patterns. Likewise, the long and short vowels were embedded in similar patterns of 2-3 letter consonant blends and digraphs, all of which scored at low levels at pretest. However, once the consonant patterns were learned in the CVC words, they generalized quickly to long vowel words, especially for participants who scored higher on vowel knowledge at pretest. Replication with decoders exhibiting greater impairment is recommended.



Committee Chair

Norris, Janet