Date of Award

Winter 1988

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Maurice R. Berube

Committee Member

Raymond F. Morgan

Committee Member

Stephen W. Tonelson


The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of the whole language and the Writing to Read beginning reading programs on oral reading performance and attitudes toward learning to read in school. The research population totaled 128 kindergarten students from two elementary schools within the same urban school system. This population consisted of a complete population sample of sixty-one students at the whole language school and sixty-seven Writing to Read students chosen by random selection to represent all classes and teachers at the other school.

Oral reading performance and attitude toward reading of the two groups were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test. The Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance was used to analyze attitude and reading ability as functions of socioeconomic status and also to analyze reading as a function of attitude. An analysis of variance then was used to support these nonparametric results.

The results suggest that the proportion of the whole language students who could read was approximately double that of the Writing to Read students. Also, there was a significant difference in student attitudes toward reading between the whole language and Writing to Read methods. However, this difference did not appear when examining attitudes by gender.

A detailed examination of student attitudes toward reading in relation to socioeconomic status (SES) demonstrated a significant difference between free and full-price lunch students. Further investigation of the method and SES variables suggest, however, that method was a much more significant source of variation than SES.

Oral reading performance was analyzed also in relation to attitude groups. However, a significant difference was not demonstrated.

The results of this study suggest that regardless of SES, the students who received whole language instruction had a statistically significant better attitude toward learning to read in school than was observed for students who received Writing to Read instruction.