Phonological decoding and word reading accuracy in children taught by whole-language: Does instruction influence the relationship?

Phonological decoding and word reading accuracy in children taught by whole-language: Does instruction influence the relationship?

First Author: Alison Arrow -- University of Canterbury
Additional authors/chairs: 
James Chapman
Keywords: Decoding, Word reading, Instruction, Phonological Recoding
Abstract / Summary: 

The act of decoding has been suggested as being critical for acquiring the orthographic knowledge required for automatic reading and that lexical orthographic knowledge is the result of word reading accuracy and phonological decoding. The purpose of this study was to examine the bi-directional relationship between phonological decoding and word reading accuracy in a sample of whole-language (WL) taught children. The predictive nature of early literacy abilities (letter knowledge and phonological awareness) were also examined for both reading measure.
In this longitudinal study 514 children were assessed at the start (T1) and middle (T2) of their first year of school on letter name and letter sound knowledge and phonological awareness (elision). At the end of the school year (T3) they were assessed on set for variability using a mispronunciation task. Phonological decoding and word reading accuracy were assessed at T3 and in the middle of the second year (T4).
A hierarchical regression found that word reading accuracy at was predicted by letter name knowledge, letter sound knowledge, phonological awareness over and above phonological decoding. To examine the bidirectional nature of word reading accuracy and phonological decoding a second hierarchical regression was carried out on phonological decoding. Word reading accuracy, set for variability and phonological awareness predicted phonological decoding.
In this study phonological decoding was only one part of the explanation for word reading accuracy. Furthermore, word reading accuracy was the largest significant predictor of phonological decoding ability. The findings are discussed in terms of how theories of reading explain how children learn to read within different instructional approaches.