Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


Phonemic awareness, defined as understanding phonemes, a linguistic set of units considered the basics of speech sound by which words are represented, is an important skill set to acquire in the elementary grades. The relationship between phonemic awareness, or the more commonly, phonological awareness, and reading ability has been studied for many years. Children with strong phonological awareness can detect, match, blend, segment and manipulate speech sounds, which aids in their predictive ability and leads to successful reading. This research project explores the effect of small group instruction on struggling readers at the second grade level, with specific focus on increasing phonemic awareness skills. This research involved explicit instruction in leveled groups of guided reading. The six week research study was conducted in a rural community in Western New York with small class sizes. There were fourteen student participants. The study group included three students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Two of the students with IEPs were classified as having multiple disabilities, including mental retardation. In addition, both students had a one-on-one teaching assistant. The third boy was classified with a reading disability. The three students with IEPs were given their testing modifications, which included separate location and tests read to them. Student success was measured using a pre- and post-test model, sound inventory checklist and anecdotal records. Conclusions drawn from the study data reveal the benefit of teaching phonemic awareness skills through small group instruction with struggling readers as post research results show increased ability for the majority of student participants.


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