The purpose of the proposed study is the analysis of the difficulties experienced by preschool children when studying letters. The research problem is the identification of a viable approach to promoting young learners’ understanding of the letter-sound correlation. Given this problem, the intervention has been selected that is aimed at increasing sound fluency in kindergarten students. The basic design of the study is quasi-experimental since there will be two groups of children, but participants will not be assigned randomly.
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The experimental group will participate in intervention activities aimed at improving the participants’ literacy skills. The control group will not receive any additional tasks and explanations of sound-letter issues. The intervention is planned to last for six weeks and involves a post-intervention data analysis as well as the analysis in the course of the project. The analysis of data will be performed by means of identifying patterns and connections in research results.
Teaching letter and sound fluency to preschool students may present certain difficulties. Due to the young age of such pupils, they may misunderstand some letter-sound correspondences and represent sounds with letters in the wrong way (Block & Duke, 2015). Background research indicates that early reading accuracy highly depends on children’s sensitivity to letter-sound patterns (Deacon, 2012). Thus, the problem of the present project is finding ways of enhancing kindergarteners’ seller-sound fluency.
The major purpose of research and literature review is identifying the links between phonemic awareness and literacy. Other goals include finding appropriate measures to analyze young learners’ most common problems and singling out the approaches to assessing their skills. The research question is whether 30-minute sessions for 3 times a week can improve preschoolers’ letter-sound fluency significantly.
The study is expected to pass in a positive atmosphere since the researcher and the participants know each other well. A non-randomized sample will allow locating children with the similar level of letter-sound fluency in two groups. Thus, the researcher will be able to identify whether the intervention is successful based on participants with an equal degree of comprehension. The project is expected to last for six weeks, and the analyses will be performed both during and after the intervention.
Review of Related Literature
The problem letter-sound confusion has long been recognized by scholars and teachers. However, despite numerous research studies on this issue, an effective solution has not been found yet. Still, researchers analyze the problem from different angles, offering sufficient findings that can help in the investigation of the current aspect (Block & Duke, 2015; Deacon, 2012; González et al., 2015). The located articles are focused on several major elements: the confusion posed by phonological and morphological peculiarities of English sounds and letters, the ways of increasing letter and sound fluency in preschool children, and approaches to reading skills assessment (Clemens, Lai, Burke, & Wu, 2017; Dougherty Stahl, 2014).
Block and Duke (2015), Clemens et al. (2017), and Deacon (2012) investigate the confusion caused by letter names and its effect on reading literacy. Both studies’ authors emphasize that reading development is highly contingent on young learners’ sensitivity to letter-sound patterns. Deacon (2012) remarks that phonological awareness plays a significant role in early word reading accuracy.
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According to the scholar, while many efforts have been made to analyze the promotion of speech sound mapping with the help of phonological skills, too little is known about the independence of phonological awareness from morphological and orthographic awareness. Since all of these constituents have a combined effect on reading literacy, Deacon (2012) suggests performing a detailed investigation of reading literacy as affected by morphological, phonological, and orthographic processing.
As well as Deacon (2012), Block and Duke (2015) acknowledge the effect of orthographic awareness on children’s reading skills. However, Block and Duke’s (2015) study has a practical rather than research nature. Scholars suggest a variety of options for helping teachers to make their students’ literacy development easier and more accessible. Block and Duke (2015) emphasize that although letter names can present confusion to children, English is quite systematic, and its orthography is complex for a number of justifiable reasons. Block and Duke (2012) conclude that despite the difficulties that may occur in the process of teaching and learning English sounds, teachers should predict their pupils’ problems and come up with the solutions to them.
In their research, Clemens et al. (2017) focus on the contribution of LNF and LSF to reading development of young students. In particular, scholars note that instructional decisions can be enhanced through a deeper perception of these fluencies. Clements et al. (2017) report that the initial status of LNF and LSF, as well as growth in them, are uniquely predictive of children’s reading fluency, which means that there exist independent effects of both LNF and LSF on text reading skills.
Along with direct dependence, an indirect connection is also evident between these measures. The authors conclude that fluency with sounds and letters are crucial predictors of consecutive reading skills development and, thus, are regularly evaluated in kindergarten children (Clemens et al., 2017). Scholars emphasize the significance of such assessments for the enhanced development of reading abilities.
Along with the recognition of sound-letter confusion and the need for its elimination, scholars also pay attention to the ways of increasing letter and sound fluency. Block and Duke (2012) and González et al. (2015) offer solutions to the reduction of children’s confusion in the process of learning. Block and Duke (2012) note that the primary aspect which teachers should bear in mind is that equal time and attention should be given to teaching the sounds associated with a letter and teaching the letter name.
Furthermore, it is strongly recommended not to demand correct spelling from children at an early stage. Rather, young learners should be encouraged to approximate and invent spelling, which promotes the development of their literacy (Block & Duke, 2012). Finally, scholars mention that directing pupils to similar words increases fluency to a great extent.
Research by González et al. (2015) is aimed at investigating the ways of increasing reading fluency in students with dyslexia. Having applied the method of training letter-speech sound integration, scholars conclude that this approach leads to an increased reading speed rate and a decreased rate of spelling mistakes. Although the study by González et al. (2015) is focused on children with dyslexia, it is possible to borrow some of their approaches to an ordinary class where pupils have difficulty discerning between letters and sounds.
The third aspect discussed in the located sources is concerned with the evaluation of children’s knowledge. Results presented by Dougherty Stahl (2014), Piasta, Phillips, Williams, Bowles, and Anthony (2016), and Project Central (2003) suggest that systematic instruction and formative assessment are needed to increase the development of letter and sound fluency. Scholars note that with the help of timely identification of mistakes, it is possible to correct them within a shorter time.
It is expected to enroll 20 kindergarten pupils in the project. The children will be taken from two classes in a private school. From each class, ten students will be selected non-randomly (with the help of convenience sampling). This sampling approach, which is also known as haphazard or accidental, presupposes including the respondents that are available at the time of performing the study (Mills & Gay, 2016). The age of the participants will be approximately the same. Preferably, children aged five years old will be included in the study.
The pupils’ gender, race, and family characteristics will not be used as selection principles. The setting for the project will involve the preschool where the researcher works. Such an approach will allow for a simpler communication arrangement as well as friendly collaboration with participants. The researcher will be able to locate them into groups so that equally skilled children are present in each of the groups.
The instrument employed in the current project is the Diagnostic Assessments of Reading – Second Edition (DAR-2) suggested by Roswell, Chall, Curtis, and Kearns in 2005 (Unruh & McKellar, 2017). With the help of DAR-2, the teacher can measure pupils’ skills necessary for basic reading, such as phonological and print awareness, word analysis, spelling, and basic sight word recognition (Unruh & McKellar, 2017). What is more important, DAR-2 helps the teacher to assess the recognition of letters and the sounds made by them, which is the main object of the current study. In the present project, DAR-2 will be employed to evaluate children’s sound and letter recognition. Also, the approaches suggested by Project Central (2003) will be used to assess students’ phoneme identification abilities.
Participants will be divided into two groups: the experimental and the control one. The letter-sound fluency in the experimental group will be promoted through additional exercises, such as phoneme isolation and rhyme identification (Project Central, 2013). In the control group, no additional exercises will be offered. Students will receive 30-minute sessions three times a week. The researcher’s function will be assessing students’ achievements regularly. The participants’ actions will involve fulfilling the tasks suggested by the teacher.
The study will have a quantitative design, the independent variable being letter-sound fluency. The independent variable is the ability to isolate certain phonemes. The design will support the purpose of research since it will allow assessing the success of the suggested intervention.
Data analysis will be based on the graphic presentation of results (Mills & Gay, 2016). The assessment will be performed after each session for the experimental group and on the same days after regular lessons for the control group. Having these evaluations at hand, the teacher will compare them with the help of the graphic. The research project will last for six weeks at the end of which the researcher will compare and contrast the letter-sound fluency level of participants in both groups.
|Rewrite proposal in past tense||February 20 – February 25, 2019|
|Complete Baseline Testing||February 26 – February 28, 2019|
|Implement Intervention and Collect Data||March 1 – April 11, 2019|
|Results & Data Analysis||April 12 – April 19, 2019|
|Limitations & Recommendations for Future Research||April 20 – April 25, 2019|
|Complete Poster for Graduate Research Day (May 2, 2019)||May 2, 2019|
Block, M. K., & Duke, N. K. (2015). Letter names can cause confusion and other things to know about letter-sound relationships. Young children, 70(1), 84-91.
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Clemens, N. H., Lai, M. H. C., Burke, M., & Wu, J.-Y. (2017). Interrelations of growth in letter naming and sound fluency in kindergarten and implications for subsequent reading fluency. School Psychology Review, 46(3), 272-287).
Deacon, S. H. (2012). Sounds, letters and meanings: The independent influences of phonological, morphological and orthographic skills on early word reading accuracy. Journal of Research in Reading, 35(4), 456-475.
Dougherty Stahl, K. (2014). New insights about letter learning. The Reading Teacher, 68(4), 261-265.
González, G. F., Žarić, G., Tijms, J., Bonte, M., Blomert, L., & van der Molen, M. W. (2015). A randomized controlled trial on the beneficial effects of training letter-speech sound integration on reading fluency in children with dyslexia. PLoS ONE, 10(12), e0143914.
Mills, G. E., & Gay, L. R. (2016). Educational research: Competencies for analysis and applications (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Piasta, S. B., Phillips, B. M., Williams, J. M., Bowles, R. P., & Anthony, J. L. (2016). Measuring your children’s alphabet knowledge: Development and validation of brief letter-sound knowledge assessments. The Elementary School Journal, 116(4), 523-548.
Project Central. (2003). Cool tools: Informal reading assessments. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education.
Unruh, S., & McKellar, N. A. (2017). Assessment and intervention for English language learners: Translating research into practice. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.