The role of teacher knowledge: Developing phonemic awareness and alphabetic skills in at-risk kindergarten students

Date of Completion

January 2007


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special|Education, Reading




This study examined kindergarten interventionists' knowledge of phonemic awareness (PA) and early phonics and the relationship thereof to kindergarten student outcomes on reading assessments. The study was conducted within the context of Project Early Reading Intervention (ERI), a four-year Institute of Educational Sciences funded study designed to test the efficacy of a published reading intervention with kindergarten at risk readers. ^ Participants included 54 kindergarten interventionists and 198 students. The interventionists and their groups of 3-5 kindergarten students were randomly assigned to instructional groups. A total of 31 kindergarten interventionists and their groups were randomly assigned to the ERI instructional condition; 23 interventionists and their groups were assigned to Typical Practice (TP) intervention condition. Interventionists each responded to a teacher knowledge survey, the Assessment of Teacher Knowledge of Early Reading: Four Dimensions (ATKERS 4-D), prior to the start of the study. This survey gathered information on interventionists' content knowledge and skill related to PA and early phonics, their orientation towards reading instruction, and other variables including interventionists' preparation for and experience with teaching reading. ^ Descriptive statistics were used to examine demographic data. Next, ANOVAs were used to determine if interventionists with different experience and preparation differed in content knowledge and skill with PA and early phonics. Finally, multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the predictive power of interventionists' content knowledge and skill on student performance on measures of PA and phonics and to determine if there was an interaction effect between interventionist variables and treatment condition. ^ Results suggested the interventionists scored similarly to teachers from earlier teacher knowledge studies; they had positive perceptions of the role of code-based instruction in teaching reading; and there was no statistically significant association between interventionists' preparation and experience. Next, there was a statistically significant relationship between preparation and content knowledge, but no statistically significant relationships between preparation and skill or experience, or between content knowledge and skill. Finally, results of multiple regression analyses evaluating relationships of interventionist' knowledge and student outcomes, as well as interactions between teacher variables and instructional conditions were not statistically significant. Implications and limitations of these findings are discussed. ^