Assessment Guidelines– Literature Review

Assessment Guidelines– Literature Review

First, you need to identify an area of research focus for your planned “virtual” (you won’t be carrying out the research yourself) Action Learning Project. The Action research project question is:

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How can the implementation of the Reading Recovery early literacy program for foundation students identified as lacking phonemic awareness, improve their understanding of sounds and words to achieve the expected national benchmarks?


Second, complete the literature search related to the focus area you have chosen. Review the resources discovered and select between 12-15 sources that are most pertinent or relevant to your area of focus. I have uploaded a few resources that might be helpful. And here is a youtube clip


Before you begin to read a book, article, report, online material……  make sure you have written down the full details for your List of References. Take notes as you read the literature. Most importantly, you are reading to find out how each piece of writing approaches the subject of your research, what it has to say about it and how each piece of research you discover contributes to “informing” you how you, as a teacher-researcher, might go about researching your topic. This last component – explaining how what you found is linked to how you might go about planning your own research is very important and can be “lost” in a sea of background material that you have found on your topic question.


Finally, write a review of these sources – this is the Literature Review. Like all academic writing, a literature review must have an introduction, body, and conclusion.


The introduction should include:

  • the nature of the focus area under review
  • the basis for your selection of the literature sources

The body paragraphs could include relevant paragraphs on:

  • definitions you found useful for your own study
  • current key research studies in the topic area
  • principal questions that are being asked by previous researchers
  • some current findings that directly relate to your own topic
  • research methodologies and data collection methods that have been used by other researchers that may be useful for your own topic.

The conclusion should include:

  • a summary of major agreements and disagreements about the focus area.
  • a summary of general conclusions about the topic area and how it relates to researching the topic area in your own classroom.


You will never find a single study, let alone a number of studies, that “fit” pretty well perfectly to the main thrust of your study. So yes – you will find studies that relate to aspects of your study that you may eventually take on board as your Action Research Plan takes shape over the next 2 months (Assignment # 3, and the main goal of the unit). Some studies may provide some helpful definitions, others may firm up your ideas on how the data you need may be best collected, some may alert you to some contentious ethical issues about the way your study might proceed, others again may concentrate on standards within various curriculum frameworks in your content area.

So basically for your Lit Review you just need to assemble a number of pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is your topic(How can the implementation of the Reading Recovery early literacy program for foundation students identified as lacking phonemic awareness, improve their understanding of sounds and words to achieve the expected national benchmarks?) – from as many (12-15) relevant articles that you can find – that becomes your Lit Review, written under the headings supplied and weighted according to the rubric weightings. All articles are relevant if they contribute to you designing a feasible and practical Research Plan that will try to answer all or part of your Action Research Question.


Remember that most Literature reviews attempt to do two things:

1) Give the reader some general and then more specific “Background” to any research and ideas that have already been published somewhere on your topic area.

2) Lead the reader to understand which of these ideas, likely variables, research methods, assessment tools, etc were crucial in deciding just how your general plan to design a small research study has been shaped by the readings (12-15) that you discovered that relate to your specific research question. We call this describing how your Lit review readings “informed” your decisions about how you would proceed in your own study plan.

Final Comment: No-one (teacher, University researcher, marketing guru, etc) who is attempting to carry out some research – no matter how small – would start his/her research without first scanning what has been happening in the area first and how they attempt to build on that – that is, by putting together a fully referenced Literature Review.



Literature Review

Phonemic awareness or the ability to hear the different sounds in the English language has been proven the main factor of reading failure.


The phoneme being the smallest unit of sound in language and used for learning to speak. Phonemic awareness is further characterized by a child’s ability to manipulate phonemes in their mind and reproduce them mentally. For the child to be literate he must comprehend that sounds or phonemes heard in words are represented by the alphabet (Chabot, 2010).


In Australia, students and staff were observed to have difficulties in communicating in one language and grasp the same understanding. Reading problems of students were observed to cause implications of failure in school, comprehension, and childhood depression (Cochrane, 2009).


The Reading Recovery is a literacy program for selected students that develop effective reading and writing strategies. It aims to help students read at or above average reading level. It is conducted by trained early years literacy teachers and Reading Recovery mentors. The students of the program are considered the lowest achievers in a class or age group. It also includes students with lower intelligence, second-language, poor motor coordination, immaturity, and learning disabled. The Reading Recovery has guidelines set parallel to the Australian National Standards (State Government Victoria, 2007).


The implementation of the Reading Recovery is acknowledged by the Department of Education in the State Government of Australia as a means to serve beneficially for concerned local students.


The implementation should be further expanded to other areas of Australia and expand its benefits to teachers along with researchers. This will establish an address to the concern of lack of phonological awareness, which is fundamental in achieving national standards.


  1. The program will be held for selected students in 12-20 weeks or until a student reaches or is above his average reading level.
  2. The lessons will be taught individually for 30 minutes daily.
  3. Early literacy teachers will be trained by a Reading Recovery Tutor for a year and will continue the practice with interaction of colleagues.
  4. Students would be selected according to results of the Observation Survey Early Literary Achievement, which covers letter identification, word knowledge, print concepts, phonemic awareness, writing vocabulary, text reading level.
  5. Students would be monitored for three years after succeeding the program.
  6. Students would participate in a Home School Support Group if failing to reach the expected national standards. After eight to 10 weeks, there would be further assessment on actions to be taken.
  7. The lessons in the Recovery program would cover six core activities including reading familiar books and working with words and letters.
  8. The program will ensure effective implementation by providing access to Year 1 students.
  9. Data on observations of students’ progress would be uploaded and reviewed on the secure website of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
  10. Establishment of the program has been shaped to ensure students are still able to participate in academic expectations in small and big schools.


The Reading Recovery aims to fulfill a role that creates two positive outcomes, which are to continue academic progress independently and to make progress through the program without assistance of peers. It hopes to reach a goal of accelerated learning so that selected students can be at the same literacy pace as their peers.


As previously stated, students are the lowest achievers in academics and are inclusive of students with second language, low intelligence, and learning disabilities. It should be noted beginner readers acquire phonological awareness through songs, playing with words, and listening to adults. Repeated reading and use of strategies such as word walls, key words, and lists build word awareness. Teaching of words is considered effective when students are constantly exposed to the words. The words are part of a selection chosen. The students can think of prior knowledge experiences as they recall or become introduced to words. The students would soon build relationships with new words and known words to concepts. Reading fluency or the ability to read quickly and accurately would become the ultimate goal of selected students. It would be ensured with reading repeatedly, echo-like styles, guided readings, self-identifying errors, and visualization.


Phonological awareness can be assessed and enhanced with selected students through focusing on environmental sounds, counting words, clapping syllables, segmenting compound words, segmenting and blending syllables, segmenting and blending phonemes. Initial consonants would be related to multiple sounds. Children can be tested on letter identification, letter naming, letter formation, and letter sounds. Memorizing phonics would not necessarily ensure the capability to understand phonemes. Mnemonics is a proven way to note letter-sound association. Characters and hand motions also motivate students to learn (Saskatchewan, 2004).


The Reading Recovery uses six core studies in developing the skills of students. For text reading, the first core studies are reading familiar books and taking a running record of yesterday’s new book. In these studies, students would be expected to read phrases or specific parts of books they have already read and then be guided with their difficulties. Beginner readers would read word by word. There would be an emphasis on understanding the words therefore practice with reading strategies is expected. There would be notes if the child can self-correct and identify errors as he recalls familiar texts. The child’s confidence would be maintained with a teacher’s minimum need to point out a child’s reading mistakes.


Another core study is working with letters and sounds. Here the knowledge of letters and sounds would be expanded. Some exercises include identifying a letter in a jumbled pool. They would practice to become familiar with left to right orientation. They would then be taught to understand that words can be taken apart, rhyme, or create new words.


In text writing, writing a story is a core study. The students would use their own experiences or knowledge of books to enhance their writing skills. Letter formation, fast writing of frequency words, use of letter boxes to spell out words, and use of old words to create new words are other essential parts of this core study.


Text reading would be further developed with the core studies of reconstructing a cut-up story and reading a new book. These activities build the confidence of students to recreate a story from prior knowledge and grasp skills with different material respectively. The cut-up story can be sentences or words wherein the student would focus on order. It helps a child see how words are put in print. The new book activities would focus on expanding vocabulary and pinpointing new words. Teachers would prompt the child with strategies in stuck moments of reading. The child’s errors would be recalled in the running record for the next day.


The observations of related studies are essential to guide researchers and educators with the implementation of the Reading Recovery and magnifying activities to build phonemic awareness.


The levels of phonemic awareness are explained by Hempenstall (2015) of Learning Difficulties Australia Bulletin. He states that children learn to read first by oral production which involves the process of segmentation and blending. In the first year of schooling, students should grasp a finer discrimination of phonemes. Co-articulation or variation of acoustic values to phonemes in words can cause a natural challenge with individual phoneme studies. Awareness of words as a unit is the usual first sign that phonemic awareness has enhanced. It is followed by rhymes, syllables, and acknowledgement of phonemes. Hempenstall stresses that age to levels would become an issue because of the different background of children and that levels should be considered as markers to reading skills instead (Hempenstall, 2015).


Phonemic awareness is a special concern for selected students that have English as a Second Language (ESL). It is observed that ESL students quickly lose interest in activities. Teachers would be challenged to create activities that suit their learning styles. ESL students begin with monologue-like patterns in their language and have difficulty to create a natural sound. Peer modeling, social influences, and adult facilitation are evidential methods in drawing ESL students to develop phonemic awareness (Ng, 2006). In 2011, 18% of Australian natives speak other languages than English at home (Profile, (n.d). This proves that cultural diversity and these concerns for ESL students are relevant to teachers in Australia with hopes in applying the Reading Recovery to their classroom settings.


The Reading Recovery program can be considered a remedial program for students with learning disabilities. The remedial model has faced challenges such as questions to its effectiveness because its goals to assist teachers can be accomplished by classroom teachers and the identification for trained members. The remedial model has been shaped to define effective measures in achieving its goals and setting standards for remedial teachers. The program qualifies graduated teachers with flexibility and passion to teach students with learning difficulties. It requires teachers to conduct diagnostic tests, perform related tests to a student’s case, plan and act lessons appropriate to a student’s needs, teach a student individually, work closely with those concerned with the child, and become updated with trends in education’s progress (Davidson, 1979).


The Reading Recovery program has been conducted in the U.S. A specific study was conducted questioning its effectiveness through six years of observation with New York students that were further grouped as native speakers and non-native speakers. 63% accomplished the program out of 25,601 children. 37% had failed due to the time provided before school year end or evident need for special education. There was no significant difference in completion rates for the groups of students despite the language considerations. The study stresses that without the program; non-native speakers would fail behind first grade (Ashdown, 2000).


The North American Trainers Group Research Committee has also provided several study observations on the program. The phonological processing skills were assessed through activities such as the Clay’s Diagnostic Survey, the Dolch Word Recognition Test, and measures of phoneme segmentation, phoneme deletion, and phonological recoding. Students that participated in the standard and modified Reading Recovery program had higher scores than those of students with the standard intervention. The test profiles were similar to average students in classroom settings (Iversen, S., &Tunmer, W. E., 1993).


First grade students’ achievement and social and personal development were also a focus of study. It was evaluated with the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). The children from the program were described as superior to the control group. They performed with significant improvement on standard measures. Teachers in training were proven effective in guiding the students (Quay, L. C., Steele, D. C., Johnson, C. I., &Hortman, W., 2001).


Phonological awareness instruction was the focus of a research of kindergarten students in New York with a Development Reading Assessment (DRA). The DRA focuses on accuracy, fluency, rate, phrasing and retelling. The research shows that the control group has experienced improvement with the skills through the assistance of good instruction. The group did not reach the benchmark of first grade standards due to personal issues such as separation of family or childhood depression. The initial problems of students shown in the tests were emphasized in the intervention program but still did not help the group be at the appropriate level of reading with their peers. The process of hearing words and transferring it to written words though had successful changes (Hamilton, Gwendolyn Elizabeth, 2007).


In Australia, students and teachers from the Catholic Education Office (CEO) Reading Recovery program were observed in 2004 and 2005. Tutorial interactions applied five levels of support created by Wood (2003). Chronologically the five levels are general verbal interaction, specific verbal interaction, specific verbal interaction with non-verbal indicators, preparation for next action, and demonstrated action. The program has identified that ESL, literacy development, and general oral language are three distinct considerations in the program but these elements interact. Absences and significant events in a child’s life were proven to also affect the success of students. The students had slow progress in the first year of schooling and were generally described with an issue of slow self-esteem. Teachers were observed to have a gain of control unconsciously and were encouraged to provide activities students could grasp skills independently (Bianco, Joseph Lo and Scrull, Janet, 2005).


The Reading Recovery has faced a number of concerns. In its address to cost-effectiveness, it is stated through intervening early, Reading Recovery reduces referrals and placements in special education (NDEC, 2002), limits retention, and has demonstrated lasting effects. Retention and special education referral also have substantial price tags. The productive results of the program show the costs on training teachers and creating content are part of good investment. The program also debunks issues with selection of students who are considered successes with proving these students represent the target population.


In a report on the effectiveness of the program, it stresses that each part of the program create the positive outcomes. The Observation Survey adheres to the standards of real-world tasks to prove an observation’s validity. It includes discrimination indices and reliabilities to further demonstrate its reliability. Changes in the Guidebook of the program are created based on long-time observations. It states that changing the platform from individual tutoring to group learning would hinder a child’s chance for growth.  The lessons highlight explicitly words, sounds, and letters to prove with clear instructions to debunk any argument otherwise. Letter-sound relationships take a major part of the lessons to encourage a child’s capability to analyze the structure presented. Children who participate in the program gain phonological awareness skills and strategies without additional lesson components in phonological processing (North American Trainers Group, 2002).

The Reading Recovery program has been agreed by researchers and educators as an effective method to develop the literacy skills of students. It has been believed to magnify the phonological awareness skills of students because it is a factor to assurance of academic success.


Phonological awareness is defined as the recognition of sounds and words. It further connects to a child’s ability to relate them with written symbols. Without such, literacy and academic success would not be established.


When developing the phonological awareness of students, they should be able to identify sounds with letters at Grade 1. Despite inferences a teacher can make, the difficulties of grasping sounds may not rely on the language barriers a student has completely. Other factors like the child’s personal experiences and interests may hinder the process.


The lessons in the program encourage principles of repeated reading, identification of sounds and words, and building words that have effectively enhanced a child’s understanding the phonemic awareness becomes an evidential guide to fluent reading.


The program has been proven successful in its goals to put students with or above average reading level with its assessments and individual tutoring. The high success rates show that cost effectiveness of training teachers and creating content for the program are profitable investments. The results also prove arguments of reliability and lack of focus on phonological awareness as disputable statements.


In the classroom wherein this research paper will further assess the Reading Recovery program’s effectiveness, the students would be of 5 to 7 years old and would be assessed with the instruments to identify certain struggles with phonological awareness. Selected students with results that indicate lack of phonological awareness will participate in the program and be observed particularly with the core study of letters and words. It is essential for a researcher to see firsthand, a student’s reaction and progress with the lessons in order to assess its effectiveness or suggest further actions to ensure the positive goals of the program would be achieved.



Ashdown, Jane and Simic, Ognjen (2000). Is Early Literacy Intervention Effective for English Language Learners?

Bianco, Joseph Lo and Scrull, Janet (2005). Successful Engagement in Early Literacy Learning: Implications, Practices and Insights. Catholic Education Office and The University of Melbourne.

Chabot, Jeanette M (2010). Phonological Awareness Interventions for Students At-Risk Of Reading Failure. Concordia University, Portland.

Cochrane, Kirsty (2009). Teaching Reading –An Action Research Model. Practically Primary Vol. 14 No. 3

Davidson, Chris (1979). The Development of Associations for Remedial Teachers in Australia. Learning Difficulties Australia Bulletin. Volume 47, No 2, Winter Evidence from Reading Recovery. Literacy Teaching and Learning. Vol.5, No. 1

Hamilton, Gwendolyn Elizabeth (2007). The Effectiveness of Phonological Awareness Instruction in Improving Reading Scores. The College at Brockport: State University of New York

Hempenstall, Kerry (2015). Phonemic awareness: Yea, nay? (Part 2). Learning Difficulties Australia Bulletin. Volume 47, No 2, Winter

Iversen, S., &Tunmer, W. E. (1993). Phonological Processing Skills and the Reading Recovery Program. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(1), 112–126

North American Trainers Group (2002). What Evidence Says About Reading Recovery.Reading Recovery® Council of North America, Inc.

Ng, Ivy (2006). A New Experience Teaching Phonemic Awareness -A Teacher Action Research.

Profile Id (n.d). Australia: Language spoken at home. Web. Retrieved from:

Quay, L. C., Steele, D. C., Johnson, C. I., &Hortman, W. (2001).Children’s Achievement and Personal and Social Development in a First-Year Reading Recovery Program with Teachers-In-Training. Literacy Teaching and Learning: An International Journal of Early Reading and Writing, 5, 7–25.

Saskatchewan Learning (2004). Teaching Students with Reading Difficulties and Disabilities A Guide for Educators. Web. Retrieved at:

State Government Victoria (2007).Reading Recovery Guidelines.Department of Education in Early Childhood Development.


Tutor feedback


Your introduction states purpose in a manner that helps the reader to understand the director and the organisation of your literature review, but needs also to explicitly develop the relationship between your research question, the current literature and the overall project you have in mind.


You show clearly that you have red and understood the source texts that inform the paper. You are able to summarise key points or issues in the source text and then critically analyse or synthesise them which in turn extends the ideas of the source text in interesting ways.


Your review shows a variety of sources which you are able to relate to your research question and your Action Research project. You demonstrate a competent understanding of the breadth of your subject.


You have provided little discussion of research methods, but implicitly understand the importance of research methodology through the use of citations and other research projects. Your paper has an implicit understanding of the key disagreements and agreements but doesn’t synthesise these to your own project clearly.


You provided concluding remarks that show some synthesis and analysis has been completed although not all of your conclusions are fully supported from the body of the text. An adequate summary of key ideas is present, but needed to be directly associated with your research question and project.


You use APA format with minor errors, but generally effectively.


Your writing style tends at times to be vague or unfocused, but is generally acceptable.


Most areas of the marking rubric are covered well. The areas that were the weakest were concerned with the nature of the content under “key research studies identified” as well as some missing material in your conclusion. Your paper identified many of the key points in your chosen research area – however some important detail regarding the nature of your own research question was either omitted or not enough detail supplied. Certainly you found a good set of resources – but you made little or no connection between all the research studies you examined, the methods they used, and what you needed to conclude about what the studies had to say about planning for/setting up your OWN ACTION RESEARCH PLAN which is the key part of the aim of a literature review. Part of the assessment guidelines states that “You are reading to find out how each piece of writing approaches the subject of your research, what it has to say about it and how each piece contributes to “informing” you how you, as a teacher-researcher, might go about researching your own topic”. So – these were the missing links in those two parts of your writing – “key research studies” and “conclusion”. Please consider all of this for you Action Research P

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