This study examined the role of early reading instruction on the nonword reading strategies employed by beginning readers. Three groups of children given different styles of reading instruction were asked to read a list of nonwords presented (i) in isolation and (ii) using the clue word technique (Goswami, 1986, 1988). The three groups of children were given either (i) small units instruction (Optima Reading Programme, formerly Early Reading Research), (ii) instruction emphasising onset-rime and rhyme awareness (National Literacy Project), or (iii) combined large and small units instruction (control). Children given small units instruction were found to make significant use of grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and were significantly more accurate than the other two groups of children at reading the nonword items. Children given large units or a combined large and small units approach appeared less reliant on any one strategy to read the nonwords and were significantly poorer at reading the nonwords than were the Optima Reading children. The results suggest that early reading instruction does have a significant impact on early reading strategies and that teaching at the level of graphemes and phonemes is most helpful to beginning readers as it enables them to generalise their knowledge more effectively.

Deavers, R., Solity, J.E. and Kerfoot, S. (2000) The Effect of Instruction on Early Nonword Reading Strategies. Journal of Research in Reading, 23, 3, 267-286.

Research into Core Instructional Principles Study 3