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Responses to Bowers' claim that SSP is not well-evidenced by Jennifer Buckingham + others

Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:57 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Here’s a paper from Jennifer Buckingham published in The Educational and Developmental Psychologist:

Systematic phonics instruction belongs in evidence-based reading programs: A response to Bowers ... F7352B1D12

The danger in Bowers’ article is its potential to undermine hard-won gains in evidence-based reading instruction. It is one thing to say that researchers should consider investigating as yet unproven alternative methods, but it is irresponsible to make the same recommendation for practitioners.Teachers and educational psychologists working with schools and in private practice with children learning to read should continue to use the methods with the strongest available evidence base, and right now that is undeniably systematic phonics.

It is notable that detractors from the promotion of systematic phonics are often those who have an approach or paper of their own.

Sadly, instead of introducing their paper for information and to raise public awareness and possible interest, there seems to be a tendency to undermine systematic synthetic phonics - often quite vociferously.

Re: 'Systematic phonics instruction belongs in evidence-based reading programs: A response to Bowers' by Jennifer Buckin

Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:30 am
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
This source for Jennifer Buckingham's response to Bowers has been flagged up via the DDOLL network:

Jen Buckingham also wrote a very teacher-friendly version of her argument about the Bowers’ conclusions for the LDA Bulletin:

Buckingham, J, (2020). Evidence strongly favours systematic synthetic phonics. Learning Difficulties Australia Bulletin, 52(1), pp. 30-34.

The whole issue can be downloaded here: ... l#bulletin

Re: Responses to Bowers' claim that SSP is not evidenced by Jennifer Buckingham + others

Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:34 am
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
This paper has also been flagged up via the DDOLL network:

A Commentary on Bowers (2020) and the Role of Phonics Instruction in Reading

Jack M. Fletcher & Robert Savage & Sharon Vaugh

Abstract: Bowers (Educational Psychology Review, 32, 681-705, 2020) reviewed 12 meta-analytic syntheses addressing the effects of phonics instruction, concluding that the evidence is weak to nonexistent in supporting the superiority of systematic phonics to alternative reading methods. We identify five issues that limit Bowers’ conclusions: (1) definition issues; (2) what is the right question?; (3) the assumption of “phonics first”; and (4) simplification of issues around systematic versus explicit phonics. We then go on to consider (5) empirical issues in the data from meta-analyses, where Bowers misconstrues the positive effects of explicit phonics instruction. We conclude that there is consistent evidence in support of explicitly teaching phonics as part of a comprehensive approach to reading instruction that should be differentiated to individual learner needs. The appropriate question to ask of a twenty-first century science of teaching is not the superiority of phonics versus alternative reading methods, including whole language and balanced literacy, but how best to combine different components of evidence-based reading instruction into an integrated and customized approach that addresses the learning needs of each child.

From Educational Psychology Review Read full article here: ... 0ktPh44%3D

Re: Responses to Bowers' claim that SSP is not well-evidenced by Jennifer Buckingham + others

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 3:56 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
And now a response to Jennifer Buckingham's response - and so it goes on....

The science of reading provides little or no support for the widespread claim that systematic phonics should be part of initial reading instruction: A response to Buckingham

Jeffrey Bowers, Peter N. Bowers


It is widely claimed that the science of reading supports the conclusion that systematic phonics should be part of initial reading instruction. Bowers (2020) challenged this conclusion after reviewing all the main evidence, and Buckingham (2020a) provided a detailed response where she argues that the evidence does indeed support systematic phonics and criticizes an alternative form of instruction called “Structured Word Inquiry” or (SWI). Here we show that every substantive criticism Buckingham makes is factually incorrect or reflects a fundamental mischaracterization. There is nothing in her article that challenges the conclusions that Bowers (2020) draws regarding systematic phonics, and nothing that challenges the claims we have made in the past regarding SWI. This should not be used to support whole language or balanced literacy, but it should motivate researchers to consider alternative methods that are well motivated on theoretical grounds, such as SWI.

Re: Responses to Bowers' claim that SSP is not well-evidenced by Jennifer Buckingham + others

Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 5:30 pm
by Debbie_Hepplewhite
Teacher-blogger, Greg Ashman, comments on a study involving the Bowers' 'SWI' and 'Motivated Reading':

Structured Word Inquiry fails a key test

JANUARY 18, 2020
GREG ASHMAN ... -key-test/

Following yesterday’s post on Structured Word Inquiry (SWI), Kathy Rastle highlighted in the comments that The Nuffield Foundation have conducted a randomised controlled trial comparing SWI with something called ‘motivated reading’ as interventions for struggling readers.

Greg concluded:
I would make two more observations. Firstly, motivated reading sounds a lot like whole language to me. Can we conclude, therefore, that SWI is no better than whole language?

Secondly, motivated reading did not appear to contain any phonics. Yet even those who are sceptical of the evidence for phonics will admit that systematic phonics programs are superior to no phonics at all. If so, we may expect a systematic phonics program to beat motivated reading and, from the results of this study, we may therefore expect it to beat SWI.

If you think these observations are a bit of a stretch then fine. The best way forward would probably be to run SWI against systematic phonics in a randomised controlled trial. In fact, I’m unsure why they didn’t do that and why they instead chose to run it against a phonics-free condition we would all expect to be inferior. Go figure.

Do read the whole of Greg's post, link above, it is not long and it provides the context.

Here are 'the slides' referred to in Greg's post:

Morphological intervention for children with reading and spelling difficulties ... 202018.pdf