Reconsidering the evidence that systematic phonics is more effective than alternative methods of reading instruction

Jeffrey S Bowers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
165 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

There is a widespread consensus in the research community that reading instruction in English should first focus on teaching letter (grapheme) to sound (phoneme) correspondences rather than adopt meaning-based reading approaches such as whole language instruction. That is, initial reading instruction should emphasize systematic phonics. In this systematic review I show this conclusion is not justified based on (a) an exhaustive review of 12 meta-analyses that have assessed the efficacy of systematic phonics, (b) summarizing the outcomes of teach-ing systematic phonics in all state schools in England since 2007. The failure to obtain evi-dence in support of systematic phonics should not be taken as an argument in support of whole language and related methods, but rather, it highlights the need to explore alternative approaches to reading instruction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-705
Number of pages25
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Volume32
Early online date8 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Structured keywords

  • Language
  • Cognitive Science

Keywords

  • phonics
  • whole language
  • systematic phonics
  • Structured Word Inquiry

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