Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

C. Glennon Rowell


The purpose of the study was to ascertain the familiarity, knowledge, and skills of primary grade teachers in the area of phonemic awareness and investigate relationships of those areas with the following factors; years of teaching a primary grade, the current grade taught, educational degree(s) held, and college course hours in reading.

Two hundred and thirty-four kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers in a diverse school system in East Tennessee volunteered to participate in the study. The assessment tool used. The Shay Phonemic Awareness Survey, was developed and piloted by the investigator over a two year period. It contains six sections which address various aspects of the teachers' familiarity with, perceptions of, and knowledge of phonemic awareness, and the teachers' knowledge of specific skills in both phonemic awareness and traditional phonics.

Two types of statistical information, descriptive and inferential, were derived from the data. Correlational analyses indicated no significant relationships between the participants' familiarity with, knowledge of, or skills in phonemic awareness and their teaching experiences or education.

The conclusions of the study were: 1) the teacher participants were not familiar with the term phonemic awareness or with the sub-skills which constitute this linguistic ability; 2) the teachers seemed to have little knowledge concerning phonemic awareness concepts and Its constituent skills; and 3) the participants' responses to specific skill tasks Indicate that the teachers had very low levels of accuracy In phonemic awareness tasks and minimally acceptable levels of accuracy In traditional phonics tasks.

This study has practical significance for the preparation of both early childhood teachers and primary-grade teachers. The study could Inform professional development and continuing education professionals about a possible area of weakness In practicing teachers. The findings might be considered when state education departments are designing reading reforms and writing state licensure standards. In the school setting, Information addressing phonological development and phonemic awareness and their Importance In beginning reading could benefit reading clinicians, special education teachers, and primary school staff members In designing skill appropriate Instruction for beginning readers. Any of these applications could ultimately lead to better classroom Instruction for millions of young learners.

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