British Journal of Education Psychology (2016)

The British Journal of Educational Psychology publishes psychological research that makes a significant contribution to the understanding and practice of education as well as advances the field in terms of theory related to educational psychology. The aim of this publication is to publish research which has a broad international appeal to researchers and practitioners in education. Important criteria in the selection process are quality of argument and execution, clarity in presentation, and educational significance.


A randomized controlled trial of an early‐intervention, computer‐based literacy program to boost phonological skills in 4‐ to 6‐year‐old children

O’Callaghan, P., McIvor, A., McVeigh, C., & Rushe, T.


Many school‐based interventions are being delivered in the absence of evidence of effectiveness (Snowling & Hulme, 2011, Br. J. Educ. Psychol., 81, 1).

This study sought to address this oversight by evaluating the effectiveness of the commonly used the Lexia Core5 Reading intervention, with 4‐ to 6‐year‐old pupils in Northern Ireland.

A total of 126 primary school pupils in year 1 and year 2 were screened on the Phonological Assessment Battery 2nd Edition (PhAB‐2). Children were recruited from the equivalent year groups to Reception and Year 1 in England and Wales, and Pre‐kindergarten and Kindergarten in North America.

A total of 98 below‐average pupils were randomized (T0) to either an 8‐week block (urn:x-wiley:00070998:media:bjep12122:bjep12122-math-0001 = 647.51 min, SD = 158.21) of daily access to Lexia Core5 Reading (n = 49) or a waiting‐list control group (n = 49). Assessment of phonological skills was completed at post‐intervention (T1) and at 2‐month follow‐up (T2) for the intervention group only.

Analysis of covariance which controlled for baseline scores found that the Lexia Core5 Reading intervention group made significantly greater gains in blending, F(1, 95) = 6.50, p = .012, partial η2 = .064 (small effect size) and non‐word reading, F(1, 95) = 7.20, p = .009, partial η2 = .070 (small effect size). Analysis of the 2‐month follow‐up of the intervention group found that all group treatment gains were maintained. However, improvements were not uniform among the intervention group with 35% failing to make progress despite access to support. Post‐hoc analysis revealed that higher T0 phonological working memory scores predicted improvements made in phonological skills.

An early‐intervention, computer‐based literacy program can be effective in boosting the phonological skills of 4‐ to 6‐year‐olds, particularly if these literacy difficulties are not linked to phonological working memory deficits.


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