Annotating digital text with phonemic cues to support decoding in struggling readers

PLoS One. 2020 Dec 7;15(12):e0243435. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0243435. eCollection 2020.


An advantage of digital media is the flexibility to personalize the presentation of text to an individual's needs and embed tools that support pedagogy. The goal of this study was to develop a tablet-based reading tool, grounded in the principles of phonics-based instruction, and determine whether struggling readers could leverage this technology to decode challenging words. The tool presents a small icon below each vowel to represent its sound. Forty struggling child readers were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group to test the efficacy of the phonemic cues. We found that struggling readers could leverage the cues to improve pseudoword decoding: after two weeks of practice, the intervention group showed greater improvement than controls. This study demonstrates the potential of a text annotation, grounded in intervention research, to help children decode novel words. These results highlight the opportunity for educational technologies to support and supplement classroom instruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Digital Technology / methods*
  • Dyslexia / physiopathology
  • Dyslexia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Language
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Literacy
  • Male
  • Phonetics
  • Reading*