Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major Professor

Howard Goldstein, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ruth H. Bahr, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lise Fox, Ph.D.

Committee Member

R. Michael Barker, Ph.D.


Preschool, Early Literacy, Intervention, Response to Intervention


This study investigated the use of instructive feedback for modeling early literacy skills. Instructive feedback is defined as the presentation of additional information during the positive feedback phase of learner trials. Thus, it is a way of modeling additional information when students respond to a trial correctly. Previous studies have demonstrated that instructive feedback can facilitate students’ observational learning of skills, such as sight words, numerals, and vocabulary. Instructive feedback has yet to be investigated when modeling early literacy skills.

A modified version of an evidence-based early literacy intervention, PAth to Literacy, was used. Studies examining the efficacy of this intervention have shown it to be effective for teaching phonological awareness (PA) skills, including blending, segmenting, word part identification, and initial phoneme identification. Alphabet instruction is included in the intervention, although effects have been minimal. Instructive feedback was investigated as a novel method of incorporating alphabet instruction within a scripted phonological awareness intervention. Instructive feedback that modeled letter names and letter-sound correspondences was included during the positive feedback in PAth to Literacy.

A multiple baseline design across sets of letters was used to determine whether students acquire letter names and sounds through observational learning. Each phase of the study included instructive feedback that modeled names and sounds for a set of four letters. Upon completion of each phase, a new set of four letters was introduced. An Alphabet Mastery Monitor was used to measure student growth on alphabet skills. Student progress on PA tasks also was measured using a researcher-developed PA Fluency Measure. It was hypothesized that students would learn letters modeled through instructive feedback during each phase and would demonstrate progress on the PA skills taught through direct instruction. The six children who completed the experiment demonstrated gains in phonological awareness skills following instruction with PAth to Literacy. However, there were no consistent gains on alphabet skills following instructive feedback.

A second experiment was conducted to determine whether changes in the delivery of instructive feedback resulted in gains on the Alphabet Mastery Monitor. Researchers served as interventionists and instruction was delivered one-on-one. The instructive feedback was modified to include a progressive time delay and letters were discriminated from a field of four. Eight children completed the full intervention. All children demonstrated gains on phonological awareness and alphabet knowledge following instruction, indicating that a modified version of instructive feedback can be used to teach alphabet skills. Information from this study will inform clinical practice for educators including speech-language pathologists. Instructive feedback is a useful tool for educators and speech language pathologists to use when teaching early language and literacy skills.