Thursday, December 16, 2010

Training in Phonological Awareness Generalizes to Phonological Working Memory: A Preliminary Investigation

Article: van Kleeck, A., Gillam, R.B., & Hoffman, L.M. (2006). Training in phonological awareness generalizes to phonological working memory: A preliminary investigation. The Journal of Speech and Language Pathology – Applied Behaviour Analysis, 1, 228-243.

Phonological awareness (PA) and phonological short-term memory (see note 1 below) are important for early reading success. Both PA and phonological WM are well established in typically developing children and contribute to word attack skills in early reading. Children with language impairment (LI) experience problems with both PA and phonological STM and are at risk of having difficulties when learning to read. The purpose of this study was to see if both PA and phonological STM skills could be improved in preschoolers with SLI.

Results of the first and second study showed that children with SLI performed more poorly than typically developing children on measures of rhyming, phoneme awareness, and working memory.

The third study included an intervention in which 16 children with SLI completed training in rhyming and phoneme awareness. Training sessions took place twice a week for two semesters, and lasted 15 minutes each. Post-intervention results showed improvements on a series of PA tasks as well as on two phonological STM measures for the children with SLI. There was no control group for this study.

These results provide some preliminary evidence that improvements in phonological awareness generalize to phonological STM.

Note 1: This paper refers to phonological working memory, however the tasks employed tap short-term memory rather than working memory. The tasks were nonword and word recall that require storage only (STM). Working memory tasks such as letter-number sequencing additionally require processing.

Blogger: Allison Partridge is the manager of the Language and Working Memory Lab. She graduated with an Honors Specialization in Psychology and completed her undergraduate thesis with Dr. Lisa Archibald.

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