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Gender Differences in Early Reading Strategies: a Comparison of Synthetic Phonics Only with a Mixed Approach to Teaching Reading to 4-5 Year-Old Children

Price-Mohr, R. and Price, Colin (2017) Gender Differences in Early Reading Strategies: a Comparison of Synthetic Phonics Only with a Mixed Approach to Teaching Reading to 4-5 Year-Old Children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45 (5). pp. 613-620. ISSN Print: 1082-3301 Online: 1573-1707

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Abstract

A survey of primary schools in England found that girls outperform boys in English across all phases (Ofsted in Moving English forward. Ofsted, Manchester, 2012). The gender gap remains an on-going issue in England, especially for reading attainment. This paper presents evidence of gender differences in learning to read that emerged during the development of a reading scheme for 4- and 5-year-old children in which 372 children from Reception classes in sixteen schools participated in 12-month trials. There were three arms per trial: Intervention non-PD (non-phonically decodable text with mixed methods teaching); Intervention PD (phonically decodable text with mixed methods teaching); and a ‘business as usual’ control condition SP (synthetic phonics and decodable text). Assignment to Intervention condition was randomised. Standardised measures of word reading and comprehension were used. The research provides statistically significant evidence suggesting that boys learn more easily using a mix of whole-word and synthetic phonics approaches. In addition, the evidence indicates that boys learn to read more easily using the natural-style language of ‘real’ books including vocabulary which goes beyond their assumed decoding ability. At post-test, boys using the nonphonically decodable text with mixed methods (Intervention A) were 8 months ahead in reading comprehension compared to boys using a wholly synthetic phonics approach.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Keywords: synthetic phonics, gender differences, comprehension, reading, randomised controlled trial
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: Academic Departments > Worcester Business School
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Copyright Info: Open access article
Depositing User: Colin Price
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2016 12:58
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2017 10:16
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/4876

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