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Early screening for potential literacy difficulties and intervening in nursery/reception.

Legg, V.A.; (2005) Early screening for potential literacy difficulties and intervening in nursery/reception. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Measures of children's naming times for several types of item have been consistently shown to correlate positively with literacy performance at an individual level. In this study, the time taken to name a standard array of colours was found to follow a normal distribution of scores even in children as young as 3 years 8 months. Children with high colour naming times measured against a colour-naming device in nursery were considered to be at risk for potential literacy difficulties. Forty-eight children with the highest colour naming times on the naming device were allocated to four matched groups. Interventions were run with each group in line with current research into possible causative factors for literacy difficulties, in particular phonological awareness, distinctness of speech representations, phonological memory and a control group (who received as much one to one time as the intervention groups but did not follow a specified programme). All four groups were supported for these sessions by staff in nurseries and nursery classes. As the children were screened at a relatively early age (average 3 years 9 months), intervention on the various programmes took place over three terms. At the beginning of the study all children were assessed on: vocabulary, ability, colour naming time, and exposure to print at home. Matching of the intervention groups was done on the basis of these measures. Measures of literacy performance were taken after one term in Reception classes. This was done for all children in the study and analysed on this basis as well as for children in the intervention conditions to see if any particular approach to support is indicated. Analysis of naming times at 3 years 8 months to 4 years 3 months and eventual literacy performance at 5 years to 5 years 6 months indicated that colour naming time is a suitable characteristic for the early identification of potential difficulties with early literacy development. Within the parameters of this study, analysis of the effects of the various interventions on later literacy performance indicated that there is a significant effect of intervening early. All interventions produced significant gains for all areas of literacy measured: words read, words spelled and sounds known. The 'phonological memory' intervention produced the most statistically significant gains in literacy measures, particularly the number of sounds known in Reception in the 'at risk' group. The approach described here is thought to be effective because it influences the vocabulary base of young children who are at risk of literacy difficulties (c.f. Scarborough, 1991). It also increases exposure to print as suggested by Stein et al. (2002). The approach provides relevant experiences to develop the underlying systems on which literacy is built from a "top down" and "bottom up" perspective. Such findings appear to challenge some of the beliefs and advice on the teaching of literacy advanced by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Just as important in introducing a support approach into whole school practice is the collaborative approach between researcher, teachers and nursery support staff taken in this study.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Early screening for potential literacy difficulties and intervening in nursery/reception.
Identifier: PQ ETD:594438
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest Confidential material removed.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1446443
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