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Keywords:

  • Computer;
  • Control group;
  • Instruction;
  • Literacy;
  • Pre-school;
  • Reading;
  • Special education

Abstract This study examined the unique contribution of computer-based instruction when compared with more conventional modes of instruction (i.e. teacher instruction with textbooks) to early reading skills acquisition, as well as the effects of specific features of computer technology on early reading skills performance. Forty-six pre-school children (aged 5–6), at high risk for learning disabilities, participated in the study. They were assigned to one of three study groups that received different treatments. Three dependent variables were defined, i.e. children's phonological awareness, word recognition and letter recognition skills measured prior and after the treatment. Results clearly indicated that children at high risk who received the reading intervention program with computer materials significantly improved their phonological awareness, word recognition, and letter naming skills relative to their peers who received a reading intervention program with only printed materials and those who received no formal reading intervention program. The results are discussed in detail, with reference to the features of the computer-based materials that contributed to the acquisition of critical early reading skills.