WWC review of this study

The effects of computer software for developing phonological awareness in low-progress readers.

Mitchell, M. J., & Fox, B. J. (2001). Reading Research and Instruction, 40(4), 315–332. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ636885

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: June 2016

Meets WWC standards without reservations
Study sample characteristics were not reported.

Reviewed: September 2006

At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Alphabetics outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Phonological Awareness Test (PAT) (a)

DaisyQuest vs. Other software programs


Kindergartners and first graders;
69 students




More Outcomes

Phonological Awareness Test (PAT) (a)

DaisyQuest vs. Teacher-delivered phonological awareness instruction


Kindergartners and first graders;
69 students





Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

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Six kindergarten and six first-grade classrooms in a middle-class, suburban elementary school in a southeastern state.

Study sample

Participants were 72 students (36 kindergarteners and 36 first graders). To determine eligibility, the district-administered Literacy Initiative for Everyone (LIFE, 1996) inventory was used. Kindergarteners who did not meet district criteria on three of the five kindergarten LIFE subtests and first graders who were below grade level expectations on five of the seven first-grade LIFE subtests were then given the PPVT-III. Seventy-two randomly selected students who met the LIFE requirement and received a standard score of 85 or higher on the PPVT-III formed the sample eligible for this study. These students were then randomly assigned to one of three conditions: DaisyQuest (intervention), teacher-administered phonological awareness training (comparison 1); or math and drawing software programs (comparison 2). Twenty-four students were assigned to each study group, half kindergarteners and half first graders. Three students total were lost to attrition, for an analysis sample of 69.

Intervention Group

Intervention students used the DaisyQuest software over a four-week period, involving 15, 20-minute sessions (five hours instruction total). Each child was assigned a specific computer in the school’s computer lab to use for the length of the study and was guided by an experimenter, who helped them with their earphones and any computer gliches. Students used both components of the DaisyQuest software.

Comparison Group

In comparison 1, students also had 15, 20-minute sessions over a four-week period during which teachers guided them through oral activities focusing on rhyming, articulating single syllable words, identifying sounds in isolation, and matching phonemes. Instructional materials for this condition were selected from the Phonological Awareness Kit (Robertson & Salter, as cited in Mitchell & Fox, 2001) and the Phonological Awareness Intermediate Kit (Robertson & Salter, as cited in Mitchell & Fox, 2001). In comparison 2, students interacted with computers for the same time and duration as the intervention group. Instead of using DaisyQuest, participants used one drawing program, Kid Works 2 (Davidson, as cited in Mitchell & Fox, 2001), and four math software programs, Math Rabbit (The Learning Company, as cited in Mitchell & Fox, 2001), Troggle Trouble Math (MECC, as cited in Mitchell & Fox, 2001), Number Maze (Great Wave Software, as cited in Mitchell & Fox, 2001), and New Math Blasters Plus (Davidson, as cited in Mitchell & Fox, 2001). Like the intervention group, they were guided by an experimenter while using these programs in a computer lab.

Outcome descriptions

The Phonological Awareness Test (PAT) (a) was administered pre- and posttest. Overall PAT (a) scores, as well as scores on its Rhyming, Isolation, Segmentation, and Blending subtests were reported. (See Appendix A2 for a more detailed description of outcome measures.)

Support for implementation

Teachers did not deliver the intervention or comparison 2, so no information was provided. For comparison 1, the study reported that teachers followed procedures from the two kits (see above).


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