Graduate Program

Elementary Education

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Deborah E. Harrison


Instruction of the letters of the alphabet is a controversial topic among early childhood educators. Not only is it debated whether letter instruction is developmentally appropriate but there is then the discussion concerning how the letters are best taught once a program deems it is developmentally appropriate. In this study, 87 children were assessed at two separate times during the school year to determine a method of instruction that proved most effective. The study took place over three consecutive school years. The first year, 27 students were exposed to alphabetic instruction through a combination of music and mnemonic device assisted instruction. Also utilized was a curriculum that connected letter name and sound to a motor function to assist in muscle memory retention. The second year, 31 students received only imbedded alphabetic instruction, still utilizing the motor connection to the letter name and sound. Finally, during the third year, 30 students received direct daily instruction on the names of letters and sounds, what some might call rote memorization instruction. While all three years show substantial student growth and retention of the letters, the three methods do not provide equal growth. The implications might be that one method could be more effective than the others.