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Reading Recovery: A Scientifically Based Analysis - page 12 / 21

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studies had to focus on reading instruction for children pre K-12 through 12th grade and

had to use experimental or quasi-experimental design with control groups or with

multiple baseline methods. Five elements of early childhood reading emerged as vital to

successful early reading instruction from this study: phonemic awareness, phonics,

fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. The panel reviewed research on

alphabetics (phonemic awareness and phonics), comprehension, fluency, teacher

education, and technology. The alphabetics subgroup conducted two meta-analyses, one

on phonemic awareness instruction (Ehri, Nunes, Willows, Schuster, Yaghoub-Zadeh, &

Shanahan, 2001) and another on systematic phonics instruction.

A quantitative meta-analysis evaluating the effects of systematic phonics

instruction compared to unsystematic or no-phonics instruction on learning to read was

conducted using 66 treatment-control comparisons derived from 38 experiments (Ehri et

al. 2001). The purpose of this review was to examine the research evidence to determine

whether systematic phonics instruction helps children learn to read more effectively than

unsystematic phonics instruction or instruction teaching little or no phonics. Is phonics

instruction more effective under some circumstances than others, such as tutoring versus

small groups or classrooms; beginning grades as opposed to later grades; for children

who are progressing normally in reading as well as for children who are at risk or

disabled in their reading? Does phonics instruction improve children’s reading

comprehension as well as their word-reading and spelling skills? Does the type of

instruction given to control groups to evaluate the effectiveness of phonics instruction

make a difference?

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