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Ask A REL Response

June 2021


What research has been conducted in teaching phonological awareness using print at the same time?


Following an established REL Southeast research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles on teaching phonological awareness using print at the same time. We focused on identifying resources that specifically addressed teaching phonological awareness using print at the same time. The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. These references are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

  1. Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., Furgeson, J., Hayes, L., Henke, J., Justice, L., Keating, B., Lewis, W., Sattar, S., Streke, A., Wagner, R., & Wissel, S. (2016). Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade (NCEE 2016-4008). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.
    From the abstract: "The goal of this practice guide is to offer educators specific, evidence-based recommendations for teaching foundational reading skills to students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. This guide is a companion to the existing practice guide, "Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade", and as a set, these guides offer recommendations for preparing students to be successful readers. Both guides recommend some practices that can and should be implemented beginning in kindergarten, and both guides also suggest some instructional practices that can be implemented after students have mastered early reading skills. This guide synthesizes the best available research on foundational reading skills and shares practices that are supported by evidence. It is intended to be practical and easy for teachers to use. The guide includes many examples in each recommendation to demonstrate the concepts discussed. This guide provides teachers, reading coaches, principals, and other educators with instructional recommendations that can be implemented in conjunction with existing standards or curricula and does not recommend a particular curriculum. Teachers can use the guide when planning instruction to support the development of foundational reading skills among students in grades K-3 and in diverse contexts. Professional-development providers, program developers, and researchers can also use this guide. Professional-development providers can use the guide to implement evidence-based instruction and align instruction with state standards or to prompt teacher discussion in professional learning communities. Program developers can use the guide to create more effective early-reading curricula and interventions. Finally, researchers may find opportunities to test the effectiveness of various approaches to foundational reading education and explore gaps or variations in the reading-instruction literature. The following are appended: (1) Postscript from the Institute of Education Sciences; (2) About the Authors; (3) Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest; and (4) Rationale for Evidence Ratings. A glossary is included. [For the companion guide, "Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade: IES Practice Guide. NCEE 2010-4038," see ED512029.]"
  2. Kosanovich, M., Phillips, B., & Willis, K. (2020). Professional learning community: emergent literacy: participant guide–module 2: Phonological awareness (Sessions 4-6) (REL 2021-045). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast.
    From the abstract: "Children entering kindergarten and grade 1 vary greatly in their emergent literacy skills. Because preschool teachers can help set the foundation of literacy skills related to school readiness, one way to address those gaps is to build teachers' capacity to apply evidence-based strategies in their language and literacy instruction. "Professional Learning Community: Emergent Literacy" was developed to support preschool teachers through collaborative learning experiences in a professional learning community (PLC). Preschool teachers who participate in this PLC will learn evidence-based instructional practices that can enhance their emergent literacy instruction and benefit children in their classrooms. This Facilitator Guide for "Professional Learning Community: Emergent Literacy" and its accompanying suite of materials were prepared to enable facilitators to lead a team of preschool teachers through emergent literacy PLC sessions. Given the rich content of emergent literacy instruction addressed in these materials, the ideal facilitator will be an educator with a strong background in emergent literacy, good communication skills, and the ability to relate well to adult learners. This Guide includes a structured plan to deliver professional learning, slides, and speaker notes. The "Professional Learning Community: Emergent Literacy" suite of materials was prepared in collaboration with the REL Southeast School Readiness Partnership and includes four modules: Print Knowledge, Phonological Awareness, Vocabulary, and Oral Language. Each module comprises four resources: Facilitator Guide, PowerPoint presentation, Classroom videos, and Participant Guide. [For the "Professional Learning Community: Emergent Literacy. Participant Guide. Module 2: Phonological Awareness (Sessions 4-6). REL 2021-045," see ED609351.]"
  3. Lonigan, C. J., Purpura, D. J., Wilson, S. B., Walker, P. M., & Clancy-Menchetti, J. (2013). Evaluating the components of an emergent literacy intervention for preschool children at risk for reading difficulties. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114(1), 111-130.
    From the abstract: "Many preschool children are at risk for reading problems because of inadequate emergent literacy skills. Evidence supports the effectiveness of interventions to promote these skills, but questions remain about which intervention components work and whether combining intervention components will result in larger gains. In this study, 324 preschoolers (mean age = 54.32 months, SD = 5.88) from low-income backgrounds (46% girls and 54% boys; 82% African American, 14% White, and 4% other) were randomized to combinations of meaning-focused (dialogic reading or shared reading) and code-focused (phonological awareness, letter knowledge, or both) interventions or a control group. Interventions had statistically significant positive impacts only on measures of their respective skill domains. Combinations of interventions did not enhance outcomes across domains, indicating instructional needs in all areas of weakness for young children at risk for later reading difficulties. Less time for each intervention in the combined phonological awareness and letter knowledge intervention conditions, however, did not result in reduced effects relative to nearly twice as much time for each intervention when children received either only the phonological awareness intervention or only the letter knowledge intervention. This finding suggests that a relatively compact code-focused intervention can address the needs of children with weaknesses in both domains. (Contains 5 tables.)"
  4. Olszewski, A., Soto, X., & Goldstein, H. (2017). Modeling alphabet skills as instructive feedback within a phonological awareness intervention. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 26(3), 769-790.
    From the abstract: "Purpose: This study evaluated the efficacy of an instructive feedback strategy for modeling letter names and sounds during presentation of positive feedback within a small group phonological awareness intervention for preschoolers. Method: Two experiments were conducted using multiple baseline designs across children and behaviors. Letter name and sound identification and performance on a phonological awareness fluency measure served as the primary outcome variables. Six children completed Experiment 1. A progressive time delay was added to instructive feedback to elicit a response from the 9 children in the second experiment. Results: In the first experiment, 6 children demonstrated gains on phonological awareness but not alphabet knowledge. With the addition of progressive time delay in the second experiment, all 9 children demonstrated gains on letter name and sound identification as well as phonological awareness skills. Conclusions: Progressive time delay to prompt children's responses appears to bolster the effects of instructive feedback as an efficient strategy for modeling alphabet skills within a broader early literacy curriculum. Modeling alphabet skills did not detract from, and may have enhanced, phonological awareness instruction for preschoolers. [This article was published in "American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology."]"
  5. Phillips, B. M., Clancy-Menchetti, J., & Lonigan, C. J. (2008). Successful phonological awareness instruction with preschool children: Lessons from the classroom. Topic in Early Childhood Special Education, 28(1), 3-17.
    From the abstract: "Phonological awareness is one of several key precursor skills to conventional literacy that develop during the preschool period. Significant amounts of research support the causal and predictive relation between phonological awareness and children's ease of learning to decode and spell. However, many preschool curricula and early childhood educational and caregiving settings are still lacking in robust instruction in this area, and many preschool instructors do not yet have a strong grasp of the developmental trajectory of phonological awareness nor of how to incorporate effective support and instruction into a developmentally appropriate teaching plan. This article summarizes what is known from high-quality research about the development of phonological awareness and about how this informs effective pedagogical strategies for its instruction. Numerous examples are given of effective instructional strategies derived from randomized trials of preschool curricula and interventions. (Contains 1 figure.)"
  6. Shapiro, L. R., & Solity, J. (2008). Delivering phonological and phonics training within whole-class teaching. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(4), 597-620.
    From the abstract: "Background: Early, intensive phonological awareness and phonics training is widely held to be beneficial for children with poor phonological awareness. However, most studies have delivered this training separately from children's normal whole-class reading lessons. Aims: We examined whether integrating this training into whole class, mixed-ability reading lessons could impact on children with poor phonological awareness, whilst also benefiting normally developing readers. Sample: Teachers delivered the training within a broad reading programme to whole classes of children from Reception to the end of Year 1 (N=251). A comparison group of children received standard teaching methods (N=213). Method: Children's literacy was assessed at the beginning of Reception, and then at the end of each year until 1 year post-intervention. Results: The strategy significantly impacted on reading performance for normally developing readers and those with poor phonological awareness, vastly reducing the incidence of reading difficulties from 20% in comparison schools to 5% in intervention schools. Conclusions: Phonological and phonics training is highly effective for children with poor phonological awareness, even when incorporated into whole-class teaching."
  7. What Works Clearinghouse. (2006). Phonological awareness training plus letter knowledge training. What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
    From the abstract: ""Phonological Awareness Training plus Letter Knowledge Training" is a general practice aimed at enhancing young children's phonological awareness, print awareness, and early reading abilities. Phonological awareness, the ability to detect or manipulate the sounds in words independent of meaning, is a precursor to reading. Phonological awareness training without letter knowledge training can involve various training activities that focus on teaching children to identify, detect, delete, segment, or blend segments of spoken words (i.e., words, syllables, onsets and rimes, phonemes) or that focus on teaching children to detect, identify, or produce rhyme or alliteration. The added letter knowledge training component includes teaching children the letters of the alphabet and making an explicit link between letters and sounds. Both skills are related to beginning reading. Three related What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention reports review two curricula for phonological awareness -- "DaisyQuest" and "Sound Foundations" -- and a similar practice -- "Phonological Awareness Training" without letter knowledge training. One study of "Phonological Awareness Training plus Letter Knowledge Training" met the WWC evidence standards and two studies met WWC evidence standards with reservations. Together, these three studies included more than 230 preschool children from upstate New York, two Midwestern communities, and another unidentified state. They examined intervention effects on children's oral language, print knowledge, phonological processing, early reading/writing, and cognition. Most of the children studied were from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and about one-fourth of the children were raised in non-English-speaking families. This report focuses on immediate posttest findings to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. "Phonological Awareness Training plus Letter Knowledge Training" was found to have potentially negative effects on oral language, positive effects on print knowledge, potentially positive effects on phonological processing and early reading/writing, and no discernible effects on cognition. [This publication was produced by the What Works Clearinghouse. Three studies are reviewed in this intervention report: (1) Gettinger, M. (1986). Prereading Skills and Achievement under Three Approaches to Teaching Word Recognition. "Journal of Research and Development in Education," 19(2), 1-9; (2) Pietrangelo, D. J. (1999). Outcomes of an Enhanced Literacy Curriculum on the Emergent Literacy Skills of Head Start Preschoolers. "Dissertation Abstracts International," 60(4), 1014A. (UMI No. 9927614); and (3) Roberts, T., & Neal, H. (2004). Relationships among Preschool English Language lLarners' oral proficiency in English, Instructional Experience and Literacy Development. "Contemporary Educational Psychology," 29(3), 283-311.]"


Keywords and Search Strings
The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Using print during phonological awareness instruction
  • Phonological awareness and letters, teaching methods
  • Phonological awareness, letter knowledge, instructional methods
  • Phonological awareness and letters, teaching methods

Databases and Resources
We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published for last 15 years, from 2003 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types - randomized control trials,, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc. (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast at Florida State University. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southeast under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0011, administered by Florida State University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.