Overview of reading-writing connections: Synthesis and the road ahead

Overview of reading-writing connections: Synthesis and the road ahead

First Author: Rui Alexandre Alves -- Universidade do Porto
Keywords: reading and writing relationship, Writing, Reading, Literacy, Literacy development
Abstract / Summary: 

Reading-writing connections (R-WC) is a two-way street in which literacy research is thriving. An outcome of that activity is a forthcoming international volume on R-WC’s state of the art. This symposium aims at providing an overview of the volume by reviewing it along with some representative studies and uncovering questions for future research. Alves et al. will present the volume as a case for the need of literacy science. Limpo et al. will show how such integrative framework promotes more effective literacy interventions. Guo et al. will show how kindergartners’ early literacy skills predict writing skills one year later. Arfé et al. will show how a comprehensive view of language adds to developing effective early preventive literacy interventions. On closing, Wagner will discuss the R-WC volume, specifically making a strong case towards establishing literacy science and its critical role in framing and advancing literacy research and fostering both literacy education and interventions.

Symposium Papers: 

Reading-writing connections: A case for integrative literacy science

First Author/Chair:Rui A. Alves -- University of Porto
Additional authors/chairs: 
Teresa Limpo; R.Malatesha Joshi

Purpose: Cognitively oriented reading and writing researches have made considerable progresses in the last 40 years and produced fine-grained understandings of each literacy activity separately. However, reading and writing knowledge needs some level of integration as they patently form the core of the literate mind. Such integration is being pursued in the field study of reading-writing relationships, of which the programmatic research of Shanahan (1984, 2006, 2016) is a notable example. We draw on the achievements of that research field (mainly US based) to expand its scope and applicability to an international research effort encompassed by the European Literacy Network (ELN). That effort is claimed to provide a necessary frame for establishing literacy science, advancing literacy research, and improving literacy interventions.
Method: An open call was issued across the ELN and related networks to edit a volume on Reading-Writing Connections. The volume covers four main areas in which integrative efforts are being made: 1) modeling approaches to reading-writing relations; 2) literacy development; 3) reading and spelling across orthographies; and 4) integrative approaches to literacy instruction and remediation.
Results: Across the book four sections, 15 contributing chapters were selected and are undergoing peer-reviewing and feedback from a leading scholar representative of each research area, who will write sections’ concluding remarks. The volume will also rely on an overarching views from eminent scholars who will comment on the overall project.
Conclusions: By reviewing the proposed volume, a case will be made for establishing the field of reading-writing relationships as the primeval ground in which an integrative literacy science can be settled.

Integrative approaches to literacy instruction and remediation

First Author/Chair:Teresa Limpo -- Centre for Psychology at the University of Porto
Additional authors/chairs: 
Rui A. Alves; R. Malatesha Joshi

Purpose: This paper presents four studies included in the last section of the R-WC book, which intends to foster an integrative view of literacy intervention research.
Method & Results: Study 1 reports the effects of home-based writing intervention to promote preschoolers’ writing in Hebrew. Mothers from low (n = 32, 27 controls) or high (n = 30, 30 controls) SES received, respectively, individual guidance across 8 weeks, or group guidance over 12 weeks. Regardless of SES and guidance, interventions improved children's spelling and word reading. Study 2 examined the effects of a decoding intervention on persistently struggling readers’ (age 14). French students received a word-level decoding intervention coupled with a student- or teacher-guided self-assessment strategy (eight students per group plus 8 controls). Both interventions increased reading, self-efficacy, and spelling. Study 3 examined the effects of combined reading-writing instruction preceded by reading-only (n = 37) or writing-only (n = 41) instruction (Grades 5-6). Though neither group improved reading comprehension, both improved writing skills. Study 4 tested whether fifth graders ability to communicate through writing relates with reading comprehension assessed by open response or multiple choice (N = 209). After controlling for word reading and listening comprehension, students’ communication abilities predicted reading comprehension in both item formats.
Conclusions: These studies found transfer effects of writing and reading interventions and showed that writing influenced reading assessments requesting writing or not. The importance of adopting an integrated approach to literacy instruction will be addressed, with stress on examining transfer effects and testing reading-writing multicomponent interventions.

Examining reading-writing connections in kindergarten children at the learning to write phase

First Author/Chair:Ying Guo -- University of Cincinnati
Additional authors/chairs: 
Cynthia Puranik; Ben Kelcey; Molly Duncan; Allison Breit Smith; Sun Jing

Purpose: The relationships between writing and reading has been researched extensively although to a much lesser degree with early beginning writers. Studies examining this relationship in young children in first through third grade indicate that even beginning readers and spellers draw on multiple linguistic awareness skills for their word reading and spelling regardless of their level of literacy abilities. The purpose of this paper is to extend this line of research by examining reading-writing connections in kindergarten children who are beginning the process of learning to write and by examining not only examining these relationships at the word level (i.e., spelling) but also at the letter and text level.
Method: One-hundred-twenty kindergarten children were recruited from two geographical sites, one in the North-east and the other in the South-east region of the US. These children were recruited from 20 different classrooms across five schools. Children were administered various oral language, reading, and writing tests at the beginning of kindergarten and writing tests at the end of kindergarten. Measures included: Reading skills. Word reading (Letter ID and Word Attack subtests from the WJ-IV, Passage comprehension (WJ-IV Passage Comprehension subtest), letter-name fluency (DIBELS), and phonological awareness (CTOPP). Writing. Letter writing (upper and lower case letters), Spelling (WJ-IV Sound and Word Spelling), Writing Samples (WJ-IV).
Results: All data collection and data entry have been completed. Data analysis is underway and will include descriptive and inferential statistics to examine concurrent relationships between reading and writing at the beginning of the year and then growth models to understand the development of skills and examine growth in writing from the beginning to the end of kindergarten. Implications of this research and directions for future research will be discussed.

The effects of articulatory gestures on phonemic segmentation and letter recognition

First Author/Chair:Barbara Arfé -- University of Padova
Additional authors/chairs: 
Alberto Mariotto; Renan Sargiani

The “Motor Theory of Speech Perception” (Liberman, 1999) claims that articulatory gestures enhance phonemes perception and representation in the brain. Boyer and Ehri (2011) have demonstrated that teaching phoneme segmentation with the use of articulatory pictures depicting positions of the mouth, lips and tongue supports phonemic segmentation in pre-readers.
Purpose. In the present study we adapted Boyer and Ehri’s (2011) procedure to examine whether observing and re-producing articulatory gestures during letter-phoneme mappings (LA=Letters + Articulation condition) enhanced phonemic segmentation and letter knowledge more than focusing on letter-phoneme correspondences only (LO=Letters Only condition) or a traditional phonological awareness training (e.g. rhymes and syllabic segmentation, CC=Control Condition).
Method. Forty-Eight Italian preschoolers (mean age 5 years, 25 boys, 23 girls) took part in the study. Children were randomly assigned to the three experimental conditions: i) Letters plus articulation (LA), ii) Letters only (LO) condition, and iii) control condition (CC condition). Phonemic segmentation, phonemic blending, letter knowledge, word reading, word writing were assessed at the pre- and posttest.
Results. The results showed that children in the LA condition improved more than the other two groups (LO and CC) in tasks of phonemic segmentation, and more than the CC in the letter recognition task. Letter knowledge and phonemic segmentation were significantly correlated in the LA group.
Conclusions. These findings confirm that a focus on articulatory gestures enhances letter-phoneme mapping processes that are foundational for spelling and decoding.

Discussing reading-writing relationships

First Author/Chair:DISCUSSANT Richard Wagner -- Florida State University and Florida Center for Reading Research

While discussing each of the four-presented papers, a case will be made for the need of developing a literacy science framework. Such framework needs to be grounded on current scientific understanding of the human language system, specifically of its spoken and written counterparts. Regarding R-WC, common and specific components of reading-writing relationships will be foregrounded from the symposium contributions. Furthermore, those components not directly covered in the papers discussed will also be called upon so that a comprehensive map of reading-writing relations can be drawn from the symposium. Such mapping and integration is critical for a higher-order conceptualization of literacy skills, for asking the right research questions and to foster the impact of research on literacy education and on preventing or remediating language learning disorders.