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Remediating Difficulties in Learning to Read and Spell by Teaching Kindergarten Students to Listen to Composite Words and Vocally Segment the Component Phonemes

Mellon, Leanna S.

In 2 experiments I used a delayed multiple probe design to test the effects of teaching students to vocally segment the component phonemes after listening to composite words on the emergence of untaught textual responses, spelling responses, and vocal phoneme blends. All participants were kindergarten students and had been selected because they could textually respond to and write graphemes but did not learn textual responses and spelling responses for words from instruction. There were 2 phases in Experiment I. In Experiment I, Phase 1, I examined the effect of teaching 3 students to vocally segment the component phonemes in a five-word subset of phonemically transparent Consonant-Vowel-Consonant (CVC) words on the emergence of (a) textual responses, (b) dictated written spelling responses (c) vocally blending the component phonemes into a composite word, and (d) vocally segmenting the component phonemes from untaught composite words. During the vocal phoneme segmentation intervention participants were vocally presented with a composite word and were taught to vocally segment and produce each component phoneme separately in the same sequential order as the component word (e.g., cat...c...a...t). Results showed that derived relations emerged across all topographies after learning to vocally segment the phonemes in 2 sets of consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words. In Phase 2, I used the same response topographies as Phase 1 using a set of 20 consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant (CCVC) words. All 3 participants demonstrated errors in which they did not include a fourth phoneme (e.g., spelling stop as sop). Results showed that learning to vocally segment a 5-word set of CCVC words established the essential stimulus control for correctly responding to CCVC words. Experiment II was a systematic replication (Sidman, 1960) of Experiment I, Phase 1, which included extra measures of learning and experimental control. Five participants acquired untaught derived relations after learning to vocally segment the component phonemes in composite CVC words. The participants in Experiment II required between 2 and 3 instructional sets before demonstrating derived learning. An additional measure showed that the rate of learning for textual responses increased across all participants after the intervention. Results also showed that verbal operants learned before the intervention joined with the newly acquired spelling repertoire for some participants after the intervention. The results from both experiments demonstrated that children who can identify phonemes and graphemes, but do not learn to textually respond and spell from instruction will acquire those skills as a function of learning the relationship between composite words and the component phonemes through vocal phoneme segmentation.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Behavior Analysis
Thesis Advisors
Greer, R. Douglas
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 26, 2019