This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Logico-Mathematical Processes in Beginning Reading




Greer, Deirdre

Type of Degree



Curriculum and Teaching


Phonemic awareness has been shown to be a foundational component that initiates children’s insight into the alphabetic principle. With the support of research, programs have been developed for children at the preschool level that are designed to enhance their phonemic awareness in order to better prepare them for learning to read. An important body of research that has not been considered in the development of reading programs is that which shows how children understand written language in the years leading up to their entering school. It is this research along with Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, upon which it is based, that can inform educators as they continue to improve reading instruction. The present study showed that in order to effectively utilize phonemic awareness as a component of beginning reading children must be able to understand the relationships between letters and words. The development of the understanding of these relationships occurs at about the same time as an area of logico-mathematical knowledge identified by Piaget as the part-whole relationship. Thirty-nine children, 5- 10- years old, were administered The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy SkillsTM Phoneme Segmentation Fluency task and Nonsense Word Fluency task. Two Piagetian part-whole reasoning tasks and 2 researcher-created tasks were also administered. The researcher-created tasks included a word sorting task and a letter sorting task and examined various criteria used by the subjects for classification. Chi square analyses of phoneme segmentation fluency (PSF) with age and nonsense word fluency (NWF) with age showed that phonemic awareness follows a developmental progression. Connections to Piaget’s descriptions of developmental behaviors were also described. Regression analyses between PSF and part-whole reasoning and NWF and part-whole reasoning showed that the development of phonemic awareness occurs in conjunction with the development of part-whole reasoning. Multiple regression analyses with PSF and several logico-mathematical constructs (classification, part-whole reasoning, and class inclusion) and NWF and the logico-mathematical constructs showed that the development of phonemic awareness is a logico-mathematical process.