Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Frances Moroney


This study explored the relationship between cognitive clarity of reading and various reading instructional programs with 72 first and third grade students. The programs included: language experience, analytic phonics, and synthetic phonics.

A semi-structured interview, an aural task, and two visual tasks were given to each child. The interview consisted of nine questions about the nature of reading and the vocabulary used in reading instruction. The interview was measured by a response that suggested either cognitive confusion or cognitive clarity. The aural and visual tasks were given to assess the child's ability to segment words in a written context and an aural context. The aural and visual tasks were scored according to an incorrect or correct response.

A series of chi-square analyses were computed to analyze the data. The results indicated that many young readers do not understand the purpose and process of reading. Elementary students are also confused about the terminology used in reading instruction. Reading instructional programs were shown to have a significant relationship with cognitive clarity of reading. Language experience students showed significantly better responses to the technical terminology used in reading, predictive strategies used in reading, and the understanding of the process of reading, than students from the synthetic phonics or analytic phonics program.

Implications for research included: a larger sample of students, other reading instructional programs, and an enlargement of interview questions with more non-verbal tasks. Classroom recommendations were also suggested. Educators can enhance children's understanding of technical terms used in reading instruction by using the terms appropriately and flexibly and by explaining why certain activities will aid in the understanding of these terms. Encouragement of meaningful conversation and dictated stories of children’s own experiences should be included in all reading instruction programs to aid in the understanding of the nature and function of reading. It was also suggested that teachers continually reinforce the communication purpose of reading.