From Speech Processing to Print Representations: The Development of Phonemic Awareness in Young Children Open Access

Kenner, Brandi Biscoe (2016)

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has deemed illiteracy a national health crisis based on reading proficiency rates among American children. In fact, according to the Nation's Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) (2015), only 36% of fourth graders are reading at a level of "proficient" or higher, and approximately 10% of children in America will require intervention (Catts & Hogan, 2003). Six pre-reading skills have been identified as most crucial to reading mastery and predict future reading outcomes. Of those skills, phonological awareness is the strongest independent predictor of early reading outcomes. One specific component of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness --the ability to parse spoken word forms into individual sound units-- is the most predictive of future reading outcomes. Limited research has addressed the development of such component skills. This is due in part to poor integration of efforts between basic research on cognitive developmental processes and more applied research in educational psychology and early childhood education. Investigation of developmental trajectories has also been constrained by the field's reliance on oral productionmeasures of phonemic awareness that cannot easily be administered with children under five- years-old and therefore are not sensitive to early implicit or emerging knowledge. The current studies attempt to redress these limitations by recruiting approaches from the cognitive development literature to derive receptive measures of early precursors to reading sub-skills. The goals of this dissertation are to elucidate the early development of phonemic awareness, to address the extent to which performance-based factors (i.e., using production-based measures) may result in underestimates of children's early phonemic awareness skills, and to identify the cognitive, environmental, and sociocultural factors that may contribute to development of these abilities and skills. The first study examines phonemic awareness development in 2.5- and 3.5-year-old children utilizing newly developed receptive measures of phonemic awareness. The second study elucidates how working memory, the home language and literacy environment, and socioeconomic status relate to receptive phonemic awareness development. Implications for both theory and practice in early language and pre-reading development are discussed, including implications for early intervention and early childhood education reform efforts.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements. i

Dedication. x

Table of Contents. xi

List of Figures. xiii

List of Tables. xiv

Chapter 1: Introduction to Dissertation. 1

1.1 Background and Literature Review. 4

1.2 Theories of Phonological Awareness Development. 4

1.3 Measures of Phonological Awareness. 6

1.4 Theoretical Framework: The Representational Redescription Model. 8

1.5 Goals of Dissertation. 12

1.6 Implications. 16

1.7 Introduction References. 17

Chapter 2: Manuscript 1 - Phonemic Awareness Development in 2.5- and 3.5-year-old

Children: Evidence of Emergent, Receptive Knowledge and Skills

2.1 Abstract. 23

2.2 Background. 24

2.3 Goals of Study. 33

2.4 Method. 35

2.5 Results. 43

2.6 Discussion. 47

2.7 Manuscript 1 References. 52

Chapter 3: Manuscript 2 - Cognitive and Environmental Predictors of Receptive

Phonemic Awareness Development: Implications for Theory and Practice

3.1 Abstract. 55

3.2 Background. 58

3.3 Goals of Study. 65

3.4 Method. 68

3.5 Results. 79

3.6 Discussion. 92

3.7 Manuscript 2 References. 102

Chapter 4 Grand Discussion

4.1 Motivation. 106

4.2 Manuscript 1 Summary of Findings. 107

4.3 Manuscript 2 Summary of Findings. 110

4.4 Implications for Theory and Practice. 114

4.5 Future Directions. 119

4.6 Grand Discussion References. 120


Appendix A: Minimal Pair Auditory Stimuli. 123

Appendix B: PPVT Sample Page. 124

Appendix C: Home Language and Literacy Environment Parent

Questionnaire. 125

Appendix D: Revised Children's Book Title Recognition Test. 132

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