Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Psychology


Phonological awareness has become widely regarded as an important causal factor in developmental reading disability, and there has been a corresponding increase in clinical demand for phonological awareness training. Review of the literature, however, suggests that the causal relationships are not clear-cut, and there are still unresolved issues amongst current models of reading development and reading difficulties. This study began with the construction of two observational tools: a phonological awareness test that targets skills needed in the early stages of mastering the alphabetic code, error analysis procedure that documents phonological strategies used in the identification of unfamiliar words in connected text. These tools were used in a regression-based reading age match comparison of reading disabled children and normally-developing readers. With reading age accounted for, a deficit was evident on more complex aspects of phonological awareness, on nonword reading and spelling, and on the tendency to make substitution errors. Implications of the results for cunent theoretical models were examined. Finally, a new model was proposed, conceptualising the development of two different kinds of phonological awareness alongside the acquisition of word identification skills, and clarifying ways in which the causal relationships might be further tested.