Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Health Sciences


Rehabilitation Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Sharon R. Stewart

Second Advisor

Dr. Colleen Schneck


The purpose of this research study was to investigate the learning of print concepts (PCs) by preschool children at risk for literacy problems using an experimental treatment: explicit, non-evocative print referencing. Children from low socio-economic status (SES) families have been determined to be at-risk for literacy learning problems including a reduced knowledge of print concepts.

The study incorporated a multiple group (experimental and control) time series design with persistent insertion of treatment to those subjects who were assigned to the experimental condition. Participants included 25 children at-risk, ages 4:0- 4:11 (years: months) who qualified for pre-school services and for subsidized childcare (low SES). Participants received eligibility pre-testing and a standardized test of print concept knowledge (PCK).The children were randomly assigned to the experimental or control condition. Children in the experimental condition received three treatment sequences of two illustrated story books read to them each day for three days with the adult reader using the experimental treatment of verbal descriptions and gestures to point out PCs. At the end of each treatment sequence the children were tested for PCK. This intermittent testing helped determine which concepts were learned using this treatment and at what level of dosage of the treatment. Children in the control condition were periodically tested for their PCK and only receive the “business as usual” class room references to print.

Results of data analysis indicated a significant increase in the learning of print concepts by the children enrolled in the experimental condition compared to those in the control condition and suggested that some print concepts were more easily learned using this intervention than others.