A randomized controlled trial of an early-intervention, computer-based literacy program to boost phonological skills in 4- to 6-year-old children

Paul O'Callaghan, Aimee McIvor, Claire McVeigh, Teresa Rushe

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Abstract

Background: Many school-based interventions are being delivered in the absence of evidence of effectiveness (Snowling & Hulme, 2011, Br. J. Educ. Psychol., 81, 1).Aim: This study sought to address this oversight by evaluating the effectiveness of the commonly used the Lexia Reading Core5 intervention, with 4- to 6-year-old pupils in Northern Ireland.Sample: A total of 126 primary school pupils in year 1 and year 2 were screened on the Phonological Assessment Battery 2nd Edition (PhAB-2). Children were recruited from the equivalent year groups to Reception and Year 1 in England and Wales, and Pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten in North America.
Methods: A total of 98 below-average pupils were randomized (T0) to either an 8-week block (inline image = 647.51 min, SD = 158.21) of daily access to Lexia Reading Core5 (n = 49) or a waiting-list control group (n = 49). Assessment of phonological skills was completed at post-intervention (T1) and at 2-month follow-up (T2) for the intervention group only.
Results: Analysis of covariance which controlled for baseline scores found that the Lexia Reading Core5 intervention group made significantly greater gains in blending, F(1, 95) = 6.50, p = .012, partial η2 = .064 (small effect size) and non-word reading, F(1, 95) = 7.20, p = .009, partial η2 = .070 (small effect size). Analysis of the 2-month follow-up of the intervention group found that all group treatment gains were maintained. However, improvements were not uniform among the intervention group with 35% failing to make progress despite access to support. Post-hoc analysis revealed that higher T0 phonological working memory scores predicted improvements made in phonological skills.
Conclusions: An early-intervention, computer-based literacy program can be effective in boosting the phonological skills of 4- to 6-year-olds, particularly if these literacy difficulties are not linked to phonological working memory deficits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Volume86
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 30 Jul 2016

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