Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Tena L. McNamara


Phonological awareness skills are essential for reading development. Children with hearing loss lack access to essential auditory information that allows development of phonological awareness (Dillon, John, & Pisoni, 2011). Music instruction is becoming a popular approach to teach reading for typically developing children, and studies have supported beneficial effects from this treatment methodology. However, there is limited research regarding the use of music to teach phonological awareness and reading skills to children with hearing impairment (Gromko, 2005).

The effectiveness of a music program on increasing phonological awareness skills in children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing was evaluated in this study. The dependent variable was performance on the Phonological Awareness Test-2 (PAT-2) (Robertson & Salter, 2007). The independent variable was the introduction of a music program that focused on temporal, tonal, and melodic elements. Music sessions were conducted by the primary researcher, classroom teacher and a certified music teacher. Four children between five and nine years of age who were enrolled in an educational program for children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing within a public school were participants in the study. One participant wore bilateral hearing aids and three wore cochlear implants. Music was introduced four times a week for 15 minutes twice a day, and pre and post-test measures were completed using the PAT-2.

Changes in raw scores greater than 50% were rated as notable, and results indicated improvements for Participant 4 in the treatment group in the areas of Deletion, Blending, and Decoding. The largest improvement occurred in the Decoding subtest. Participant 3 in the treatment group displayed improvements in the areas of Isolation and Decoding, with the greatest increase in Isolation. Participants in the control group maintained consistent or lower performance on all subtest and total test standard scores.