The effects of fluency instruction on the literacy development of at -risk first graders
Phonological awareness and rapid serial naming are underlying processes associated with beginning reading. This first-grade study in a public school district was designed to compare the effectiveness of two supplemental instructional approaches for first graders at risk for reading failure: (a) training in phonological awareness alone and (b) training in phonological awareness and fluency.
The participants were 20 at-risk first-grade students who were receiving a Title I intervention program called STeps Into Reading. This program was based on research and centered on direct instruction in phonological awareness. For this study, the intervention program was extended from 20 minutes a day to 30 minutes. The experimental group (STIR/PA + F) received fluency instruction for the extra 10 minutes. The control group (STIR/PA + PA) received additional phonological awareness instruction for the extra 10 minutes.
The effects of the instruction were analyzed in two ways. First, a MANOVA was performed to determine if there was a significant difference between the STIR/PA + PA group and the STIR/PA + F group on spelling, decoding, word identification at 5 and 1 seconds and word reading fluency. There was not a significant difference found for either group on any of the dependent variables.
The second analysis examined the effect of instruction on the literacy levels of the students to determine if fluency instruction gave the most at-risk students a benefit in word identification as it did in a prior feasibility study. The results of the ANOVA and independent sample t tests did show a significant advantage for the most at-risk students who received fluency instruction on word identification at 1 second and word reading fluency. There was a near significant advantage for word identification at 5 seconds.
Findings support Wolf and Segal's work, indicating that a neglected part of intervention may be in the area of fluency instruction for children with naming speed deficits that hinder automatic word recognition. Results are consistent with recommendations from the National Research Council (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998) for instruction designed to prevent reading failure.
0535: Reading instruction
0524: Elementary education
0518: Preschool education