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NASP Home NASP Publications School Psychology Review (SPR) Volume 24 Issue 3 (1995) Research on "The Great Debate": Code-...
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Volume 24, Issue 3 (1995)

Research on "The Great Debate": Code-Oriented Versus Whole Language Approaches to Reading Instruction

pp. 376—392

Abstract: The “Great Debate” over code emphasis versus meaning emphasis in beginning reading instruction is reviewed and relevant research is presented. That research clearly favors explicit instruction in alphabetic coding that concludes that the incidental instruction provided by the writing activities of whole language do not guarantee alphabetic understanding. The lack of acceptance and dissemination of these findings among whole language educators is contextualized within the conflicting paradigms of cognitive psychology and whole language beliefs derived from aspects of constructivism, hermeneutic phenomenology, and critical theory. Rather than abandon the debate to conflicting paradigms, an attempt is made to (a) disassociate instruction in alphabetic coding from the whole language criticism of teacher-directed, drill-oriented type of instruction and nonauthentic assessment, and (b) challenge whole language educators to renew empirically based inquiry into the best methods for helping children learn to read.

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