The effect of phonics instruction on the reading comprehension of beginning readers

V Connelly, R Johnston, G B Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated whether two groups of 6-year-old beginning readers taught to read by a phonics and by a "book experience'' non-phonics approach would differ in reading comprehension as well as the processes of word recognition. The two groups were matched for word recognition but despite this, the phonics taught children had higher reading comprehension. Phonics taught children produced more contextually appropriate errors, and in both single word and text reading made more spoken attempts at reading unknown words. The non-phonics taught children had much faster reading reaction times to familiar words but they scored less in phoneme segmentation and nonword reading tasks. Compared with the non-phonics group, the phonics group spent more time in attempts at identifying unknown words and this included using contextual information, which apparently resulted in more rehearsal of the meaning of the story text and hence better reading comprehension performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-457
Number of pages35
JournalReading and Writing
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • comprehension
  • context
  • instruction
  • phonics
  • rate
  • teaching


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