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The relationship between phonological delay and later metaphonological development Dewhurst, Jacqueline


This paper studies the effects of an early phonological delay on later metaphonological abilities, a hypothesised link generally neglected by other researchers. It also examines current definitions of metaphonology, and describes a rigorously controlled set of tasks devised to test phonological awareness. The study was limited to three subjects: two with a history of phonological delay, and one a typically developing control. The subjects were given rhyme and alliteration tasks that varied on early patterns of acquisition and the number of phonemes shared by the stimulus and the distractor items. The small number of subjects permitted a comprehensive analysis of results which indicated that residual, but non-overt, phonological processes had an effect on tasks requiring phonological manipulations. A further finding of the study was that several other factors, such as memory, attention, and the nature of the stimuli also affected performance. An analysis of test behaviours and strategies suggested that performance scores may be misleading when assessing ability. Response time, and problem solving strategies employed by subjects are also useful indicators of facility. In addition, subjects may not be performing the type of analysis that is assumed by researchers. Task analysis reveals that there may be more than one way to reach a solution, while subject behaviour suggests that children make use of the largest phonological units available to them to complete a task.

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