Phonological Awareness

Current Projects

Past Projects

Segmentation and Representation of Consonant Blends in Kindergarten Children’s Spellings

Krystal L. Werfel and C. Melanie Schuele

The purpose of this study was to describe longitudinally the development of children's segmentation of consonant blends and to evaluate the extent to which linguistic features influence segmentation of consonant blends. Specifically, we were interested in the roles of word position (initial blends, final blends), class of blends, and homorganicity. Forty kindergarten children completed a developmental spelling measure (26 words with initial or final blends; one blend per word) three times at six-week intervals. Responses were analyzed for logical representation of speech sounds to describe developmental change and differential accuracy across blend types. Kindergarten children showed varied ability to segment and represent consonant blends and were differentially successful depending on linguistic and phonetic features of blends. Children were more likely to represent initial blends than final blends, initial l-blends than initial s- and r-blends, final nonnasal blends than final nasal blends, non-homorganic blends than homorganic blends, and initial nasal blends than final nasal blends. The ability to segment and represent consonant blends was positively correlated with letter sound knowledge and word reading. Contrary to prior evidence, the results of this study indicate that during the period of emergence, the properties of phonemes that comprise consonant blends affect children’s ability to segment and represent blends. This finding has implications for how spelling instruction and intervention might proceed.

Phonemic Awareness Training with Children with Hearing Loss

Krystal L. Werfel and C. Melanie Schuele

Some children with hearing loss have great difficulty in acquiring early language and literacy skills. Despite technological advances in amplification for children with hearing loss (e.g., cochlear implants), the average reading level for this population has not increased in the past several decades. Phonological processing deficits in children with hearing loss may contribute to poor reading outcomes. The purpose of this single subject study was to evaluate whether initial sound segmentation training increased initial sound segmentation ability in preschool children with hearing loss. Two preschool children with hearing loss participated in this multiple probe design single subject study. The children participated in individual intervention that taught initial sound segmentation (37-39 half-hour sessions). Assessment of children’s initial sound segmentation skill occurred at the beginning of each session. Results indicated that initial sound segmentation training increased children’s performance on the initial sound segmentation assessment measures in the children with hearing loss. The children exhibited some maintenance of skill when training ceased, but maintenance was not complete. Generalization to sounds not taught was generally not observed. Error analysis gave insight to children’s skill.
Phonological awareness training was associated with an increase in phonological awareness skill for these two children with hearing loss. Future research should explore the effectiveness of phonological awareness training for all children with hearing loss. In addition, future research should explore the effects of phonological awareness training on literacy outcomes for children with hearing loss.
West Virginia Department of Education: Phonological Awareness

C. Melanie Schuele and Laura Justice

In collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Education, we collaborated on a state-wide initiative to improve the phonological awareness skills of kindergarten and preschool children. Classroom curriculum was Phonemic Awareness in Young Children and small group intervention program was Intensive Phonological Awareness Program  (Schuele & Dayton, 2000).