WWC review of this study

Relationships among preschool English language learners' oral proficiency in English, instructional experience and literacy development.

Roberts, T., & Neal, H. (2004). Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29 (3), 283-311. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ735620

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    33
     Students
    , grade
    PK
No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards with reservations

Reviewed: December 2006

Early reading/writing outcomes—Substantively important positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Writing

Phonological Awareness Training plus Letter Knowledge Training vs. Language comprehension

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
33 students

13.1

10.81

No

 
 
20
Oral language outcomes—Statistically significant negative effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Story event sequencing

Phonological Awareness Training plus Letter Knowledge Training vs. Language comprehension

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
33 students

4.07

5.89

No

-18
 
 
More Outcomes

Vocabulary

Phonological Awareness Training plus Letter Knowledge Training vs. Language comprehension

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
33 students

18.93

24.21

Yes

-34
 
 
Phonological processing outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Rhyme

Phonological Awareness Training plus Letter Knowledge Training vs. Language comprehension

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
33 students

0.64

0.63

No

--
Print knowledge outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Letter names

Phonological Awareness Training plus Letter Knowledge Training vs. Language comprehension

Posttest

3-4 year olds;
33 students

11.14

6.74

No

 
 
29

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 100% English language learners

  • 100% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 64%
    Male: 36%
  • Race
    Asian
    61%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    30%
    Not Hispanic
    0%

Setting

The study took place in a half-day, state-funded preschool program.

Study sample

The study began with 43 three- to four-year-old low-income children. During the course of the study, four children moved, one child was excluded because of a high level of missing data, and five children were excluded because English was their primary language. The final sample included 33 Hmong- or Spanish-speaking children. The children ranged in age from 42 to 58 months (mean age = 52.8 months), and 64% were female. The children were blocked by primary language and randomly assigned across morning and afternoon classrooms to either the intervention or comparison conditions.

Intervention Group

The WWC designated the letter-rhyme group as the intervention condition for this review. The children in this group participated in a total of 48 lessons lasting 20–25 minutes each (three lessons a week for 16 weeks) in small groups that focused on improving children’s phonological awareness skills and letter knowledge. Each week, the children were introduced to a new letter in the alphabet, learned to name and write the letter, and used the letter to participate in rhyming activities (e.g., distinguishing rhyming words from nonrhyming words, recognizing rhyme, generating rhyme).

Comparison Group

The WWC designated the language comprehension group as the comparison condition for this review. The children in the language comprehension condition participated in a total of 48 lessons lasting 20–25 minutes each (three lessons a week for 16 weeks) in small groups. Each week, the children watched a video of a book followed by pretend reading of the book with teacher support (e.g., the teacher responded to children’s story-related language and pointing). During subsequent weekly sessions, the children engaged in activities to learn key vocabulary from the text, fingerpoint reading of the text to promote print awareness, and activities such as acting out the events from the story and putting in order pictures representing events in the story.

Outcome descriptions

The primary outcome domains assessed were oral language, print knowledge, phonological processing, and early reading/writing. Oral language was measured by two nonstandardized tests—vocabulary and story event sequencing—and a standardized test of English oral language proficiency—the Pre-Idea Proficiency Test. The WWC does not include the Pre-Idea Proficiency Test in this review because it was not intended to assess the effects of the intervention. Print knowledge was assessed by one nonstandardized measure—letter names. Phonological processing was measured by a nonstandardized test of rhyming. Early reading/writing was assessed by one nonstandardized measure of writing. The study also used a nonstandardized test of print concepts; however, it measured elements of both oral language and print knowledge and cannot be appropriately placed in either domain. So, the WWC does not include this measure in the review. (See Appendices A2.1–A2.4 for more detailed descriptions of outcome measures.)

Support for implementation

The intervention and comparison conditions were conducted by two undergraduate students who alternated between the letter/rhyme and comprehension conditions every two weeks for 16 weeks. They received about four hours of training and ongoing feedback from the researcher. Initial training included reviewing and discussing the lesson scripts and goals, observing two lessons, and practicing two lessons.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Roberts, T. A. (2003). Effects of alphabet-letter instruction on young children's word recognition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(1), 41-51.

 

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