Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Teaching preschoolers to note the distinctive features of letters has been proposed as an effective prereading activity. The current study investigated whether this method of visual discrimination training facilitates learning two reading-related tasks, mapping sounds to artificial symbols and blending sounds together, among four- and five-year-olds. The relationship between language ability and performance on these tasks was also examined;Previous findings with respect to distinctive feature training were replicated in that the successive mode of presentation of stimuli was more difficult than the simultaneous mode, and children's ability to discriminate was retained over several days. However, no significant difference was found between the trained and untrained groups on the reading-related tasks. It was suggested that although a subset of preschoolers might benefit from such training, most preschoolers may learn to distinguish among highly similar letters while simultaneously learning to match sounds to symbols;Subjects' language ability was unrelated to the ease with which distinctive feature training was mastered. However, the less sophisticated language group unexpectedly learned to match sounds to symbols in a significantly fewer number of trials than the more sophisticated language group. When the groups were compared on blending the more successful (although not to a statistically significant degree) than their less advanced counterparts. It was suggested that a rich linguistic background may have created interference on the matching-sounds-to-symbols task for subjects who were more advanced in language ability.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Susan Smith Robinson



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

134 pages