Semester of Graduation

May 2024


Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Disorders

Document Type



Background: Orthographic rules, phonological awareness, and the ability to process morphemes and phonemes from speech and language begins with verbal speech and the child unknowingly recognizes words from his or her environment as early as the senses can process their surroundings. Some children have difficulty integrating these processes to learn how to read. As Ehri (1979) mentions the importance of establishing mental processes, such as amalgamation and phonological recoding, are essential as a basis for establishing reading fundamentals. Decoding occurs through a complex integration of phonological and orthographic knowledge (Ehri 1992). Early readers typically have well-established amalgams for spoken words in their mental structures to bond print images to word pronunciation and, hence, result in instant sight word recognition (Ehri, 1995, 2005). The purpose of this study was to determine if decoding skills would improve when visual associations were made between graphemes and phonemes to assist in word blending.

Method: A single subject multiple baseline design replicated across three participants where all three participants received specific instruction with two syllable patterns: 12 CVC lessons and 12 CVCe lessons. Additional CVVC lessons were created but used only in the Farag hanna (2023) study of this team project. Each lesson taught one long syllable type (CVCe or CVVC) and ranged in complexity from simple three-letter to complex six-letter syllable shapes with three consonant blends or digraphs. Daily PowerPoints presented one word per slide for a maximum of 25 practice words to decode before a probe was administered.

Results: The results of this study showed that direct instruction of nonsense words could lead to gains in decoding of words in single syllables, contrasting short and long vowel sounds. Significant changes in standardized test scores showed that a visual alphabet can teach poor readers to improve decoding scores.

Discussion: Though learning was slow at times, it was clear that growth occurred after Phonic Faces were introduced, as students began to recognize and read words more quickly. Pre-test scores were low for two participants, whereas one was on the higher end, so analysis of post-testing after the intervention phase led to varying areas of decoding growth.



Committee Chair

Dr. Jan Norris