Does Phonics Instruction Improve Phonics Awareness, Read and Spelling?

  • Linda Graham

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy


    This thesis looks into the teaching of phonics to answer the question:
    Does phonics instruction improve phonics awareness, reading and spelling?

    A mixed methods action research approach was taken to ascertain if phonics instruction would improve participants’ phonological awareness, reading and spelling. The students who participated in this research were adult Emirati students who had completed their schooling and were now enrolled in the largest higher educational institute in the United Arab Emirates. They were in their first semester of a foundation programme. A pilot study was done which was fundamental in the changes made to the material that would be used for the phonics instruction and the material used for data collection.

    Thereafter, for three semesters, two groups of students were allocated per semester to participate in the research, one group was given phonics instruction and one group received no phonics instruction. Apart from the phonics instruction all participants were on the same programme. Tests were carried out at the beginning of the semesters and the end of semesters on all participants. Unfortunately, this research was stopped abruptly because of a no paper on campus regulation that was brought in to force. Ideally, another two semesters would have allowed for more data collection. However, the data collected was sufficient to carry out a thorough analysis of individual classes and finally combining the classes into the treatment group (the participants that received phonics instruction) and the comparison group (the participants that did not receive phonics instruction). Moreover, there was sufficient data to carry out a statistical analysis.

    The findings suggest that there was not a significant difference between the scores of the treatment group and the comparison group in the final phonics awareness, reading and spelling test results, but the improvement level of the participants that received phonics instruction (the treatment group) was higher than the participants that received no phonics instruction (the comparison group). Further research would be required to ascertain whether phonics instruction would improve phonics awareness, reading and spelling in other English Second Language speakers. This research was limited to Arabic speakers and all participants were Emiratis.
    Date of Award2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorSue Garton (Supervisor)


    • phonics instruction
    • phonological awareness
    • reading
    • spelling

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