Can phonics instruction and big book shared reading in combination work better than on their own? : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Albany Campus, New Zealand
The present study is an experimental study, and the purpose was to make an empirical comparison between three ways of teaching: phonics instruction, big book shared reading, and combining phonics and big book. The study involved 96 Year 2 children from three primary schools in South Auckland. Children were taught in small groups of four according to different reading ability levels (“at”, “below”, and “well-below”) after being randomly assigned into one of four conditions: phonics only (P), big book only (BB), a combination of phonics and big book (PBB), and a treatment control (C). The researcher met with the groups once a week for 30 minutes, from May to November. Children completed pre- and post-assessments of word reading, passage reading, reading comprehension, spelling, pseudoword decoding, phonemic awareness, receptive vocabulary, and math.
Results from a 3-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that the phonics and big book combined group outperformed the other two reading groups, and also the treatment control group in word reading, reading comprehension, decoding pseudowords, and phonemic awareness. The phonics only group outperformed the big book only group in decoding and phonemic awareness. The three ability groups (“at”, “below”, and “well-below”) responded similarly on norm-referenced tests to the different approaches used in this study. The intervention did not advantage one ability group over the other.
Sub-sections of the word reading, phonemic awareness, and decoding tests were also analysed. In the word reading test, results showed that the combined group outperformed the other three groups in reading short, regular one-syllable words, and short, one-syllable, slightly irregular words. In the phonemic awareness test, the combined group outperformed the other groups in segmentation, blending, and deleting the first phoneme. In basic decoding skills, the combined group outperformed the other three groups in ability to decode consonant-vowel-consonant (cvc) pseudowords. A further analysis of weekly phonics quizzes given during the 12-week training period showed that the combined group performed better than the other three groups, and that the phonics group performed better than the shared book group.The findings of the present study suggest that a combination of phonics and big book shared reading is more effective way to teach reading to 6-year-olds than providing them with only phonics instruction, or only shared book experience.