The effects of phonemic training on the spelling performance of elementary students with learning disabilities

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Jeanne Shay Schumm - Committee Chair


The primary purpose of this investigation was to examine the efficacy of two conditions (phonemic training and traditional instruction) on the spelling performance of poor readers and spellers with learning disabilities (LD). A secondary purpose of this investigation was to examine the effect of the order of training condition on the spelling performance of poor readers and spellers with LD. Students' preferences for condition were also examined.Subjects included 26 poor readers and spellers with LD (15 males and 11 females). Training procedures incorporated empirically based components of best instructional practice for teaching students with LD including reduced unit size, daily testing, error imitation and modeling, and self-correction. The traditional instruction condition required students to complete copying tasks similar to textbook exercises. Alternatively, the phonemic training condition included phonological awareness tasks related to onset, rhyme, segmentation, and blending.Results indicated that for number of words spelled correctly there were statistically significant differences between the phonemic first and the traditional first groups however, this finding was not maintained in an analysis of bigrams (two letter sequences). There was a statistically significant time effect for words spelled correctly with all subjects exhibiting a decrease from posttest to follow-up. With respect to bigrams, there was a statistically significant increase from pretest to posttest, however, the decrease from posttest to follow-up was not significant as it was with words. There was no significant effect for condition for either words or bigrams. Exit interviews indicated that all subjects liked the phonemic training better than the traditional instruction, yet both conditions were nearly equally identified as the one in which students felt they learned best.


Education, Special; Education, Reading

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