This study was prompted by the debate over the most appropriate phonological unit to teach beginning readers. While developmental theories promote the role of large-units such as syllables and onset and rime, instructional theories advocate the use of small-units through grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs). The practical implications of this issue acquired particular significance after the publication of the National Literacy Strategy in 1998 which originally emphasised teaching rhyming skills and large-units of spelling-to-sound correspondence. The study replicated previous research into children’s use of analogy on the ‘clue word task’ with a sample of beginning readers who had received systematic instruction in grapheme-phoneme relationships for one, two or three terms. The findings indicated that teaching children GPCs (small units) facilitates their skills in reading phonically regular words and enables them to overcome the restrictions of task presentation which are hypothesised to influence the use of onsets and rimes in previous ‘clue word’ experiments.

Deavers, R. & Solity, J.E. (1998) The Role of Rime Units in Reading. Educational and Child Psychology, 15, 4, 6-15.

Research into Core Instructional Principles Study 2