Psychological Perspectives on the Early Reading Wars: The Case of Phonological Awareness
by Robert C. Calfee & Kimberly A. Norman — 1998
The current mantra calls for resolving the early reading wars through a “balanced? approach. Defining balance will require careful theoretical and practical examination of specific elements in the acquisition of early reading skill. Phonemic awareness provides one opportunity for such an exercise. This article reviews origins of the construct from auditory perception through onset-rhyming patterns to the current emphasis on phoneme manipulation. Two points emerge from this review. First, both analysis of English orthography and survey of &relational data suggest that beginning readers are more likely to grasp the alphabetic principle when they can grasp the concept of the individual phonemic. Second, acquiring this competence is quite difficult for young pre-readers, but may be feasible if (1) students learn to use articulatory features as the basis for understanding phonemes, and (2) Phonemic awareness and spelling-sound relations are taught synergistically. Remaining to be completed is the task of development and evaluation of effective instructional programs to assess these hypotheses in large-scale naturalistic settings. The article describes a design-experiment strategy for approaching this task.
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