Roberts, T. (2003). Effects of Alphabet-Letter Instruction on Young Children's Word Recognition [Electronic Version]. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95 (1), 41-51.
The title of the article gave a fair representation of the topic as it was clear and concise in the wording. The title encompassed the idea that alphabet letter instruction on young children's word recognition would be explored through experiments and analysis. Reading on through the article it was evident that the effects of alphabet letter instruction on you children's word recognition were addressed.
Experimental studies have been undertaken throughout the years in relation to alphabet letter instruction. The first of these experiments were undertaken with kindergarten and year one students in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The purpose of these early experiments was to examine the hypothesis that letter-name knowledge played a causal role in the relationship between letter-name knowledge and early reading. If knowledge of letter names was a causal factor, then instruction that increased children's letter-name knowledge should increase early reading performance. It was concluded from these early studies that there was little educational benefit to be gained from letter-name instruction.
A man by the name of Ehri in 1983 critiqued these early studies and concluded they suffered from a number of methodological flaws. The concluded flaws included training may have been too short and not thorough, treatment groups differed, training did not include instruction in how to use letter-name knowledge for word reading and training the children in small groups resulted in insufficient learning.
Since the early studies and Ehri's conclusions a great deal of research has demonstrated that letter knowledge is integrally involved in word recognition. The hypotheses and purpose of this later study was to examine anew the effects of letter-name knowledge associated with instruction on beginning phonetic word recognition with methodology correcting for the flaws of previous studies. After instruction the children's ability to learn 3 types of word spellings was examined. An argument was then formulated that efforts to increase children's attention to letter information are needed, given its clear importance in early reading.
The subjects for this study were thirty-three preschool children whose language was predominantly other than English. The mean age of the participants was 52.82 months old. The participants included 3 three year old children and 30 four year old children. The participants were enrolled in a state funded, half day pre school program which served children from rather low socio economic status families and backgrounds. The mean English oral proficiency score 0f 1.86 indicated that the children were on average classified as non English speaking. The children in this study were blocked by language and oral proficiency. They were randomly assigned to either letter-rhyme or comprehension treatment. They received 16 weeks of either letter-rhyme instruction or comprehension instruction. Preteseting was conducted over a 2 week period prior to the intervention. Following pretesting the 16 week instructional program was implemented. There were three 20-25 minute lessons each week. Two trained teachers alternated weeks for the first 12 weeks of the intervention to control for teacher effects. The researcher regularly observed lessons. There were three different aspects of the study. These included comprehension treatment, letter-rhyme treatment and word learning training.
Before the intervention, a multivariate analysis, with pretest age, storybook vocabulary, letter-name knowledge and English oral proficiency was performed to determine the compatibility of the children in the comprehension and letter-name instructional groups. To determine whether the letter-name treatment had...