The Impact of Environmental Print Instruction on Early Reading Ability

By Kuby, Patricia; Aldridge, Jerry | Journal of Instructional Psychology, June 2004 | Go to article overview

The Impact of Environmental Print Instruction on Early Reading Ability


Kuby, Patricia, Aldridge, Jerry, Journal of Instructional Psychology


The purpose of this research was to ascertain if there were any significant differences in the ability to read logos and to make the transition to reading logos in manuscript forms of kindergarten children who received direct instruction with environmental print, those who received indirect instruction, and those who received no instruction with environmental print. The Environmental Print Checklist (EPC) was employed to measure the children's ability to read logos and to make the transition from reading actual logos to reading logos in manuscript forms. A quasi-experimental pre-/post-test design was used with a convenience sample of six intact kindergarten classes from a large inner-city school system. The population consisted of 106 children at post-test. Those in the two treatment groups received 8 months of instruction using environmental print. After statistical analysis of the data it was found that the control and direct instruction groups were not significantly different from each other. However, the indirect instruction group scored significantly higher (p = .01) than both the direct instruction and the control groups at levels three, four, five, and six. The results of this study demonstrated that indirect instruction with environmental print improved kindergarten children's ability to read logos and aided them in making the transition from reading logos to reading logos in manuscript form.

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Environmental print is the print found in the natural immediate environment of children, which includes logos, labels, road signs, billboards, clothing labels, coupons, newspaper advertisements, and fast food paraphernalia (Hall, 1987; Kuby, 1994; Kirkland, Aldridge & Kuby, 1991; Teberosky, 1986). Reading of environmental print is an activity children often engage in before reading print in books (Aldridge & Rust, 1987; Clay, 1991; Goodman & Altwerger, 1981; Goodman & Goodman, 1979; Hall, 1985; Wepner, 1985). Clay (1993) found that many researchers have discovered that preschool children explore the details of print in their environment, on signs, cereal packages, and television advertisements. Children develop concepts about books, newspapers, and other print in their environment. Consequently, more advanced concepts about print emerge out of children's earlier understandings.

Goodman (1984) noted that even those children who had taken standardized tests predicting failure in reading demonstrated that they had knowledge about written language. They knew that the print in books and on other objects in the environment communicated written language messages. They understood the meaning of the sign that says "stop," even though sometimes they referred to the word as "don't go" or "brake car" before they had learned the word "stop."

Mason (1980) investigated 4-year-old children's knowledge of letters and printed words to determine if preschool children had begun reading. Some of the words used to test the children's knowledge were environmental print words. She concluded that when children are guided by parents to attend to letters, signs, and labels, and are given opportunities to read, spell, and print words, they learn some of the essential elements of reading before school.

Other research on environmental print has sought to determine if young children perceive printed words as concrete ideas. Ylisto (1967) believed that children proceed through the process of learning to read in six identifiable steps: (1) seeing a photograph of a symbol in its natural setting, (2) seeing a drawing of the symbol in its natural setting, (3) seeing a drawing of the symbol in its immediate setting, (4) seeing the symbol printed in isolation, (5) seeing the symbol printed in a sentence, and (6) seeing the symbol printed in story context. She found that many young readers are able to proceed through the first three levels, but are unable to read words in levels four, five, and six, in which there are no contextual cues. …

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