Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Dr. Michael Brooks
The purpose of this dissertation was to find effective phonological instruction for improving reading comprehension and oral language proficiency of ELLs. In addition, this study was conducted to inform school administrators without ESL certification about best practices in ELL education so they could make informed, school-wide decisions for better serving ELLs before entry into secondary schools.
The sample included first and second-grade students identified as ELLs in two Northwest Arkansas elementary schools. The two schools were selected based on their similar student demographics of grade configuration, ethnicity, and poverty rate. All students selected for the study were identified as ELLs using a home language survey that indicated the primary language spoken in the home. The majority of the students spoke Spanish as their native language. The population of both schools consisted of 65-75% of the students as ELLs. Both schools averaged at least 90% of their students qualifying for free or reduced-cost lunches.
To address Hypotheses 1-8, eight 2 x 2 factorial analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were performed. Type of instruction (explicit and systematic phonemic awareness instruction versus no explicit and systematic instruction) and gender served as the independent variables for all the hypotheses. Rhyme recognition, rhyme production, phoneme segmentation, and phoneme blending measured by the Ekwall/Shanker Reading Inventory (Shanker & Cockrum, 2013) served as the dependent variables for the two sets of four hypotheses (1-4 and 5-8), respectively. Hypotheses 1-4 included first-grade ELL participants from two Northwest Arkansas schools; Hypotheses 5-8 included secondgrade ELL participants from the same two schools.
This causal-comparative study was conducted in a Northwest Arkansas school district. For the first four hypotheses, no significant interaction effects were found between type of instructional strategy and gender for the first-grade sample. However, significance was found for the main effect of type of instructional strategy for Hypotheses 1-4, which included rhyme recognition, rhyme production, phoneme segmentation, and phoneme blending, respectively. Effect sizes ranged from a medium size of 0.07 to a large effect size of 0.28. In addition, the main effect of gender was only significant in Hypothesis 4, which included phoneme blending only. The effect size for this result was a small effect size of 0.04.
For Hypotheses 5-8, no significant interaction effects were found between type of instructional strategy and gender for the second-grade sample. However, significance was found for the main effect of type of instructional strategy for Hypotheses 6 and 7, which included rhyme production and phoneme segmentation, respectively. Effect sizes ranged from a large effect size of 0.18 to 0.27. In addition, the main effect of gender was not significant in the last four hypotheses.
Explicit and systematic phonemic awareness instruction is not the only intervention method for all the reading gap issues, especially for ELLs. Non-explicit and systematic phonemic awareness instruction can provide some students with the skills needed to succeed in reading. However, the results do demonstrate that, on average, explicit and systematic phonemic awareness instruction helps both female and male Spanish speaking ELLs improve reading achievement, thus reducing the gap between this student population and their native English language peers. In other words, explicit and systematic phonemic awareness instruction should be highly considered when choosing best classroom practices in helping students improve their reading skills.
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Freeman, Annette, "The effects of explicit and systematic phonemic awareness instruction on reading for English language learners" (2016). Dissertations. 18.