The study took place at the preschool located in the Experimental Education Unit of the University of Washington.
O’Connor et al. (1993a, b, c). The study began with 55 four- to six-year-old developmentally delayed preschool children. Five children were removed from the study due to high pretest scores
or autism, and three children left the preschool, leaving a sample of 47 children. Of these children, 80% had significant language delays and some had additional disabilities (e.g., physical
disabilities, mental retardation, or behavior disorders). Children were blocked by mean age and cognitive ability and randomly assigned to one of four groups: blending, segmenting, rhyming, or a
O’Connor et al. (1993c). The same comparison group was used in all of the O’Connor et al. studies included in this report. Results for the 23 children who had been randomly assigned to the
rhyming or the comparison conditions are included in this report
The rhyming intervention group participated in rhyming training that took place in two phases. Phase one of the training lasted three weeks, and phase two lasted four weeks. During phase one,
the children were given examples of rhyme, allowed to rhyme in a group, and were asked to make a rhyme. During phase two, children were asked to continue to make rhymes and additionally
were asked to identify if pairs of words rhyme and to select a word that does not rhyme from a trio of words. The children were taught in groups of three to five and met for 10 minutes four times
a week. Results for phase two are not included in this report because the effects of the second condition cannot be separated from the effects of the first condition
Comparison group children participated in routine preschool activities, such as listening to stories read by their teachers or “circle time” oral language activities. Additionally, the researcher met
twice with each child in the comparison group during phase two training to practice isolated sounds used in training.
The primary outcome domain was children’s phonological processing. Nine nonstandardized subtests measured auditory phonological skills. There were three blending subtests, three segmenting subtests, and three rhyming subtests. The study also administered a phonological mastery test to the intervention group children to assess how well they learned tasks in the intervention they received, but it is not included in this review because the test was not administered to the comparison group children and was not considered in the impact analyses. (See Appendix A2.2 for more detailed descriptions of outcome measures.)
Support for implementation
Three graduate students with teaching experience provided instruction. The instructors met with the researcher each Monday to practice teaching formats for the week. Instructors were observed
during their sessions and received additional training as needed. Instructors alternated teaching the conditions described in O’Connor et al. (1993a, b, c)