WWC review of this study

Learning letter names and sounds: Effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill [Letter names and sounds instruction vs. numbers instruction]

Piasta, S. B., & Wagner, R. K. (2010). Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 105(4), 324–344. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ876203

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    38
     Students
    , grade
    PK

Reviewed: June 2022

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Reading & Literacy Related outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Letter sound recognition

Letter names and sounds instruction vs. Other intervention

0 Weeks

Letter name and sound vs. number identification groups;
38 students

6.22

4.44

No

--
More Outcomes

Letter Naming

Letter names and sounds instruction vs. Other intervention

0 Weeks

Letter name and sound vs. number identification groups;
38 students

10.31

8.78

No

--

Test of Preschool Emergent Literacy (TOPEL) Phonological Awareness Subtest

Letter names and sounds instruction vs. Other intervention

0 Months

Letter name and sound vs. number identification groups;
38 students

13.76

13.11

No

--

Letter Name Recognition

Letter names and sounds instruction vs. Other intervention

0 Weeks

Letter name and sound vs. number identification groups;
38 students

12.17

11.22

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement (WJ-III) Letter-Word Identification Subtest

Letter names and sounds instruction vs. Other intervention

0 Weeks

Letter name and sound vs. number identification groups;
38 students

99.77

99.72

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 48%
    Male: 52%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    South
  • Race
    Black
    14%
    Other or unknown
    14%
    White
    72%

Setting

The students attended four private child-care centers in a mid-sized city in the southeastern United States.

Study sample

Most children (72%) were Caucasian, 14% were African American, and 14% were of other races/ethnicities (Indian, Hispanic, or Asian). Almost half (48%) of the sample was female. Half (50%) of the children had parents with college degrees, and 9% had parents that completed postgraduate training. Children were 3 or 4 years old.

Intervention Group

An instructor delivered an eight-week curriculum (34 lessons of 10-15 minutes each) to small groups of three to five children as a pull-out program. The instructor taught three or four lessons per week. In the combined letter name and sound condition, each letter was consistently referred to by its name and linked to its most common corresponding sound (e.g., the letter C that makes the sound /k/) in all lesson activities (further described below). There was a lesson for each letter, and eight review lessons (roughly one a week). The curriculum taught the most common sound associated with individual letters (e.g., /k/ for C, /g/ for G) and short vowel sounds (e.g., /æ/ for A, /a/ for O) were taught. Lessons followed a fixed random sequence. Lessons were scripted, but instruction was delivered in an interactive manner. First, children practiced saying the letter name and/or sound, recognized the letter from an array of magnetic letters, and listened for words starting with the letter sound, as aided by picture cards. The study used eight different commercially available alphabet books that included all 26 letters, with a page being devoted to each individual letter and its corresponding sound. Children also participated in weekly review sessions.

Comparison Group

An instructor delivered an eight-week curriculum (34 lessons of 10-15 minutes each) to small groups of three to five children as a pull-out program. Of these 34 lessons, 16 were devoted to instruction on a particular number, 0–15, with one to three individual number lessons being provided each week. Children also received 18 review lessons. The authors designed number lessons to be as similar as possible to alphabet lessons in format, activities, intensity, and duration.

Support for implementation

The authors trained implementers to deliver lessons during two training sessions, where lesson plans and instructional materials were distributed and implementation was modeled. Implementation was monitored throughout the course of the study. In particular, the authors reviewed audio recordings of 30% of lessons and addressed implementation challenges as they emerged. Fifteen percent of lessons were randomly chosen to support fidelity assessments.

 

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