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Metaphoric investigation of the phonic-based sentence method.

This study aimed to understand the views of prospective teachers with phonic-based sentence method through metaphoric images. In this descriptive study, the participants involve the prospective teachers who take reading-writing instruction courses in Primary School Classroom Teaching Program of the Education Faculty of Pamukkale University. The data were gathered by asking the participants to produce a metaphor giving a reason that demonstrates their views with the phonic-based sentence method. The expressions for metaphors constitute the basic data resource of this study. The qualitative data were analyzed in terms of content analysis. The data were presented and discussed in terms of four themes--cognitive, affective, negative and positive aspects of teaching reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method. The results indicated that the prospective teachers emphasized the dimension of cognitive aspects rather than the difficulties and conveniences of the method. Also, it was found that affective aspect of the method was significant. It is possible to say that teachers can provide more effective reading-writing teaching when they implement reading-writing teaching congruent with their own beliefs.

Keywords: phonic-based sentence method, teaching of reading-writing, metaphor, prospective teacher

Introduction

In Turkey, there have been used various teaching of reading-writing methods till 2005. These methods are alphabet, phonic, whole word, mixed and whole sentence (whole-part), respectively. From 1968 to 2005, the whole sentence had been compulsory used in teaching of reading-writing. According to whole sentence, initially, sentences is taught. After learning sentences, sentences into words, then syllables, and phonics. Since 2005, phonic-based sentence method (part-whole) in teaching of reading-writing has been started to be used compulsory in the state and private schools affiliated with the Ministry of Education (MEB) in Turkey.

According to phonic-based sentence method, initially, phonics is taught. After learning two or more phonics, students can build meaningful syllables, then words, and thereafter they can build sentences (Gunes, 2005). For instance, in the first stage, "e" and 'T' phonics are taught; then the phonics "e" and 'T' are bound, so that the word "el" (hand in English) can be composed. Later, the sentence "el ele" (hand to hand in English) can be composed. After repeating these kinds of exercises, a student can easily build sentences. Thus, teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method allows students to build sentences in a short time.

The teachers' preparation is significant for an effective teaching of reading-writing. "Research has demonstrated that teaching expertise makes a significant difference in the rate and depth of students' literacy growth, and that highly effective educators share similar characteristics" (Block, Oakar, & Hurt, 2002, p. 1). During the pre-service period, prospective classroom teachers studying at the faculty of education attend reading-writing teaching courses. In these courses, prospective teachers are trained how to teach the basic skills of reading-writing to first graders in primary schools. They are also informed about and practice which activities to use, according to individual differences in the classroom. The prospective teachers' views in reading-writing teaching courses in their pre-service period have impact on their effective teaching in reading-writing during in-service period.

DeCourcey (2003) stated that a comprehension of students' reading-writing acquisition and student success requires teachers' understanding of how to use teaching strategies; DeCourcey pointed out that teachers' cognition shapes their actions. The main part of prospective teachers' cognition is formed by the instructional method by which they learn how to teach reading-writing to the students.

Teachers' beliefs and perceptions about themselves, students and teaching is one of the most important findings regarding school effectiveness (Guzzetti and Marzano, 1984). Richardson, Anders, Tidwell and Lloyd (1991) discovered that the beliefs of teachers are correlated with the ways in which they teach reading comprehension in their classes. In his study analyzing the beliefs and practices of teachers based on their reading teaching approaches (phonics, skills, or whole language-based), Mastrini-McAteer concluded that student achievement is statistically higher in those classes where the teacher's instruction is congruent with his/her beliefs (as cited in DeCourcey, 2003).

Based on the results of their study about literacy instruction, Pressley et al. (2001) claimed that the particular principles of skill-based and whole-language teaching are not related to the effective teaching of first graders in reading and writing. As emphasized by Duffy and Hoffman (1999, p. 10), "There is no best method. Teachers, researchers, educators and policy makers have to know that the reading teaching is not related to method, but related to teachers."

Therefore, the views of prospective teachers on phonic-based sentence method which they have to use at schools are significant. Due to implementation of this phonic-based sentence method at primary schools, by 2005, this method was being taught at universities to all prospective teachers. This means prospective teachers have to apply this method of reading-writing teaching during their in-service period. Studying the views of prospective teachers in reading-writing teaching courses will contribute to identifying benefits and challenges to reading-writing teaching. Moreover, it will provide a certain set of cues to improve reading-writing teaching programs.

In this study it was aimed to examine deeply the views of prospective teachers on phonic-based sentence method by gathering information from their metaphors. The terminology of metaphor, is defined with a figurative meaning in the dictionary of the Turkish Language Association (TDK). According to Saban, Kocbeker & Saban (2007), metaphor is considered as a strong mental asset that an individual might use to comprehend and explain an abstract or a notional concept. Metaphors that take place in all parts of life, including language, beliefs and actions, refer to understanding an idea through another one or turning it into an experience (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Sahin, Cermik & Dogan, 2010). In recent years, researchers have used metaphors as one of the most significant tools for gathering data (Silman & Simsek, 2006). Therefore, the number of the studies conducted with the basis of metaphors has recently increased (Saban et al., 2007; Silman & Simsek, 2006; Sahin et al., 2010).

This study aimed to investigate prospective teachers' views with the phonic-based sentence method. Within this framework, the following questions were answered: (1) What are the conceptual themes drawn from the metaphors demonstrating the prospective teachers' views? (2) What kind of results do these conceptual themes, based on prospective teachers' views, indicate?

Method

This is a descriptive study with a qualitative research method. Descriptive studies are carried out to describe the features of a case study (Borg, Gall, & Gall, 1993). According to the aim of this study, participants were asked to write their own metaphors. According to Saban, Kocbeker, and Saban (2007), a metaphor is a strong mental action that an individual might use to comprehend and explain an abstract or notional concept. Metaphors that take place in all parts of life, including language, beliefs and actions, refer to understanding an idea through another idea or turning it into an experience (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980; Sahin, Cermik & Dogan, 2010). Richardson and St. Pierre (2008) stated that using metaphors in writing can enable participants to be productive and express their own understanding of skills in teaching reading-writing. In recent years, researchers in Turkey have used metaphors as one of the most significant tools for gathering data (Saban et al., 2007; Silman & Simsek, 2006; Sahin et al., 2010 Simsek & Seashore, 2008).

Participants

The 'Purposive Sampling' method (Berg, 1998; Patton, 1990) was used in this study. Therefore, 218 volunteer prospective teachers who attended reading-writing teaching courses in the Primary School Classroom Teaching Program at the Education Faculty of Pamukkale University were included in this study. These participants were administered questionnaires at the end of the Fall term of the 2009-2010 academic year.

Data Collection

The data were gathered by an open-ended questionnaire, in accordance with the rules of qualitative research methods. One open-ended question, which aims to identify the quality of participant processes for reading-writing teaching with phonic-based sentence method, was asked in this questionnaire. Open-ended questions allow participants to head for different points within a restricted field (Seidman, 1998); therefore, these questions aim to reveal participants' views. To this aim, participants were asked to answer the question: 'Teaching with phonic-based sentence method is like ..... because....' By this question, participants were expected to give their thoughts and their reasons.

During the data collection process, a trusted relationship was established with the participants. For this reason, the participants were informed that volunteers could participate in the study and they were asked not to write down their names on the forms. The open-ended questionnaires were distributed and administered by the researcher to the participants in their classrooms. Sufficient time was given to the prospective teachers to improve their own metaphors and to explain their metaphor choices.

Data Analysis

As previously mentioned, 218 prospective teachers were asked to write one metaphor each. However, during the data collection period, five of them could not form a metaphor. Therefore, the remaining 213 prospective teachers' metaphors were analyzed. During the analysis process, the metaphors produced by 16 participants were excluded from the study, and the remaining 197 metaphors are included in this study. The process of analyzing and interpreting the produced metaphors of the prospective teachers was composed of five stages. (a) Data Recording: First, all the completed survey forms were numbered from 1 to 218. Then, each metaphor, including the reasons, was transcribed in a new file and recorded. In this stage, all deficient and problematic statements were also recorded. The survey forms that did not have any metaphors were labeled with 'there is no metaphor' (for later selection). (b) Data Elimination and Sorting: Each metaphor was read and checked, then each one was analyzed in terms of (1) the subject of the metaphor, (2) the source of the metaphor, (3) the relationship between the subject and source of the metaphor (Saban et al., 2007), and (4) the strength of the metaphor in revealing the acquisitions of prospective teachers (Sahin et al., 2010). Out of 218 forms, the process of reducing the selection to 21 forms was based on three criteria: (i) the statements that only describe, or do not represent any kind of metaphor (e.g., although it is an easy method, it is difficult to implement), (ii) "illogical ones" or the ones that do not contribute to the understanding of the process in reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method (e.g., it is like "to start is a half way to finish" because it is considered a big step for phonic reading-writing taught in phonic-based sentence method). After these phases, 197 metaphoric expressions were collected for evaluation. (c) Theme building: The metaphors selected in the elimination period were analyzed through content analysis, which is defined as identifying, counting and interpreting recursive topics, problems and concepts (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998; Silverman, 2000). In this stage, two specialists in this area analyzed each metaphorical statement with regard to the source of the concept and used certain codes for the statements (for instance, "the gathered units constitute the whole," "it requires effort," "it is enjoyable," "it is a challenging and exhausting process" or "it is easily applied"). The explanation with a reason was taken into account in order not to interpret the source of the metaphor inaccurately. The metaphors were classified according to four theoretical concepts with respect to the characteristics of the process in teaching reading-writing with the phonic-based sentence method. (d) Study for reliability: The researcher categorized all of the metaphor statements into the themes, which were determined by external, independent specialists. The reliability of the study was measured by the formula Reliability = Agreement / (Agreement + Disagreement), and it was confirmed that the level of 85% agreement provided reliability (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Accordingly, it is considered that a value of 70% or more is sufficient, and a value of more than 90% is better. During the review, differences in coding were corrected and the reliability coefficient was increased to more than 95%. (e) Data presentation: The data sorted according to the gained themes were indicated by exemplification of the produced metaphors. The represented metaphors were written in italics, and the number of the survey wherein the metaphor was found was marked in parentheses. These direct quotations explicitly indicate the ideas and experiences of the participants (Yildirim & Simsek, 2005).

Results

The findings obtained through analysis of metaphor data produced by phonic-based sentence method, which is used for teaching reading-writing, include four main themes. These themes are: cognitive aspects, negative aspects, affective aspects, and positive aspects. The distribution of themes is presented in Figure 1, including their frequency and percentage values.

As seen in Figure 1 above, metaphors regarding cognitive aspects of teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method indicated that views were more related to the process of the method. Approximately one-third of the participants produced metaphors about the positive and negative aspects of the method. The number of those who produced metaphors about the negative aspects of the method is higher than those who produced metaphors about the positive aspects. According to the findings, it can be stated that a significant number of participants emphasized the affective aspects of the teaching of reading-writing through phonic-based sentence method. To understand these themes fully, it is necessary to present sample metaphors about the sub-themes, which constitute the themes. The sub-themes are presented in Table 1 together with their frequency and percentage values.

The first theme, which is the cognitive aspects of teaching reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method (47.21%), gives information about the structure of reading-writing instruction. This theme includes three different sub-themes. The first gives information about the fact that teaching reading-writing through phonic-based sentence method is based on its application by combining the pieces to form a whole. An example of this fact is as follows:
 It is like doing a puzzle because the
 pieces in the puzzle are combined to
 form a new whole. The whole has a
 meaning. Phonic-based sentence
 method is similar. First, phonemes
 are given, then the syllable, then the
 word (156).


The second sub-theme is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method progresses step by step. This sub-theme may indicate that the method requires an application in which conditional situations are realized. (For instance, the teaching of phonemes should follow specific steps). An example metaphor is:
 It is like building first the foundation
 and then the first and second
 floors because the building cannot
 be constructed without first building
 the foundation (175).


The third sub-theme is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method is a cumulative process. This theme suggests that reading-writing become meaningful as the phonemes and syllables increase. An example of this is as follows:
 It resembles a snowball because the
 snowball is very tiny at the beginning,
 and it gets bigger as it rolls
 (22).


The second theme is about the negative aspects of the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method. This theme gives information about the fact that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method is a challenging process that does not rely on understanding and leads to a problematic reading-writing. The first sub-theme is that the teaching process of reading-writing skills with phonic-based sentence method is a challenging process. An example metaphor related to this sub-theme is the following:
 It is like going from one place to
 another through a short road covered
 with pebbles. It is easy, but you
 get very tired despite the road's
 being very short. With phonic-based
 sentence method, the students learn
 easily. However, they learn with
 meaningless sentences without any
 pleasure, and they get very tired and
 become unwilling (4).


The second sub-theme is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method is not based on understanding. An example metaphor is:
 It is like listening to music from a
 broken record player because our
 aim in phonic-based sentence
 method is to form meaningful sentences,
 and we cannot form
 meaningful texts that the students
 can comprehend in the first stage
 (68).


The third sub-theme is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method leads to problematic early reading-writing. Studies indicate that phonic-based sentence method provides earlier reading-writing (Baydik & Kudret, 2012; Durukan & Alver, 2008). An example to illustrate this point is as follows:
 It is like going up the stairs by running
 because reading and writing
 starts earlier in phonic-based sentence
 method than in sentence
 method. The child learns how to
 read and write earlier; but compared
 to sentence method, it can be
 stated that sentence method ensures
 a slower and more permanent learning (9).


The third theme includes the affective aspect of the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method (18.78%). The teaching of reading-writing includes taking pleasure in the learning process, or getting bored, making effort and being patient. Affective aspects consist of four sub-themes. The first of these is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method requires effort. An example metaphor for this subtheme is as follows:
 It is like the effort the child shows
 while trying to walk because the
 baby first crawls, then tries to stand
 up, then starts to walk and run (78).


Another theme is related to the fact that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method is a pleasant process. An example metaphor is as follows:
 It is like a book composed of adventure
 chapters because every chapter
 is full of excitement. The person feels
 more eager to read it as he proceeds
 within the pages of the book (184).


In contrast to the second sub-theme, the third sub-theme is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method is a boring process. An example metaphor for this sub-theme is as follows:
 It is like waiting for the end of a very
 boring film because the child finds
 it very difficult to pronounces the
 sounds. It takes a lot of time to learn
 a sound, and the child gets bored. He
 finds it difficult to combine the
 sounds. He pronounces weird
 sounds while trying to pronounce
 the right one. Because he feels
 bored, it becomes more difficult for
 him to learn it (51).


The final sub-theme is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method needs patience. An example metaphor is as follows:
 It is like a game played by collecting
 pieces. If you cannot collect the
 pieces, you cannot proceed in the
 game. We may not remain patient
 long enough to collect all the pieces
 (26).


The fourth theme is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method has positive aspects (8.12%). This theme suggests that this method is fruitful and easy to apply. This theme consists of two sub-themes. The first sub-theme is that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method is a fruitful process. An example metaphor is as follows:
 It is like tailoring a gorgeous dress
 out of tiny meaningless fabrics
 because there is a process from
 pieces to the whole. The phonemes
 alone are meaningless, but when
 new phonemes are added to the
 existing ones, the syllables form a
 word, and the word forms a sentence
 (172).


The second sub-theme states that the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method can be easily performed. An example metaphor for this sub-theme is as follows:
 It resembles the unraveling of a sock
 because if you pull a thread from
 the sock, it unravels completely.
 Phonetic based reading and writing
 is exactly like this. It starts by feeling
 the sounds, and it proceeds
 easily (166).


Discussion

According to the results of this study, cognitive aspects, negative aspects, affective aspects, and positive aspects were derived as themes. When the metaphors produced by prospective teachers were analyzed in detail, it was observed that cognitive aspects of reading-writing teaching with phonic-based sentence method were dominant. In other words, the prospective teachers emphasized the dimension of cognitive aspects rather than the difficulties and conveniences of the method. The findings also indicate the significance of the affective aspect of the method.

The produced metaphors gave details about how the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method progresses. The metaphor of building a house by combining the lego pieces gave details about the process of making a meaningful whole through meaningless pieces; the metaphor of going up the stairs one by one relates to teaching phonemes in a certain order; and the metaphor making a snowball was about the cumulative process, for which the meaningful words and sentences increase in number.

Another significant point is that negative views were greater than positive ones in the teaching process, taking into account the fact that the prospective teachers have completed their reading-writing courses such that their background knowledge on how to teach reading-writing was sufficient. However, because their negative views are greater than positive ones, it may be challenging for these prospective teachers to teach reading-writing efficiently. For instance, if a prospective teacher compares the teaching process of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method with taking a short road covered with pebbles, it is not right to prevent him/her from following the way she/he thinks convenient, even though it is long. In other words, he may prefer other methods to phonic-based sentence method. As a matter of fact, it has been found that teachers prefer the sentence method in teaching comprehension (Beyazit, 2007; Durukan & Alver, 2008). Studies indicated that there were findings about both the efficiency of sentence method (Karadag, 2005) and the difficulties experienced in phonic-based sentence method (Ozsoy, 2006). On the other hand, the whole language method is more effective according to some research (Brooks & Brooks, 2005; Krashen, 2002; Manning & Kamii, 2000). In a study where phonics-based teaching of reading is conducted, the students found it more difficult to recognize words (Connely, Johnston & Thompson, 2001).

When the affective aspect of teaching reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method is analyzed, it can be observed that teaching reading-writing is a process that requires effort. For instance, the metaphor of learning being similar to the child's making effort to walk showed that phonic-based sentence method has stages, and there is a step-by-step process, where crawling comes first, followed by standing up, and then walking. There should be effort and patience in teaching reading-writing. Another important objective is to turn the reading-writing process into an amusing and pleasant experience. Scully and Roberts (2002) stated that reading and writing activities based on games is more interesting for students, increasing their motivation and making it a fun activity, where the students are more active and satisfied with their learning. A painter's forming a fantastic work of art is a metaphor that indicates the excitement and satisfaction that the teacher felt during the teaching process. Arslan (2008) stated that the difficulties faced during the learning process can be reduced by an affective approach. If the students who willingly participate in learning how to read and write in the first place succeed, they will be increasingly successful in subsequent school years. If the learning process of reading-writing is boring, students will feel themselves distant from school even in the first year of their school life, which may lead to a failure in the following years. The example metaphor it is like cooking without enough ingredients indicates that it is difficult to utter some consonants in the Turkish alphabet, and this causes the student to feel challenged and bored.

The other significant point that is worth mentioning is that there are less positive aspects found by prospective teachers about the teaching of reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method. There are also studies that show the efficiency of phonic-based sentence method in teaching reading (Sahin, Inci, Turan, & Apak, 2006).

Agnew (2006) stated that there is not a significant difference between phonic teaching and other methods in terms of understanding the written text. The studies conducted in Turkey also indicated the same point (Akyol & Temur, 2008; Celenk, 1993; Kaya, 2008), which showed that as Mastrini-McAteer (as cited in DeCourcey, 2003) points out, teachers should make use of a teaching method that is congruent with their beliefs because only this may result in a more effective teaching of reading-writing.

Focusing more on the good sides of the methods than approaching the matter in a circular way, and trying to discover the most effective, efficient and supportive method by analyzing the historical development of teaching reading-writing and making a combination of these may lead to better results (Bauman, Hoffman, Moon, & Duffy-Hester, 1998; Cromwell, 1997; Ehri, Nunes, Stahl, & Willow, 2001; Rayner, Foorman, Perfetti, Pesetsky, & Seidenberg, 2002; Spiegel, 1992; Willoughby, 1995). As suggested by Pearson (2000), rather than being a cycle approach, improving a better one can provide effective results.

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ASST. PROF. DR. BIRSEN DOGAN

Pamukkale University, Faculty of Education, Department of Elementary Education
Table 1 together with their frequency and percentage values.

Table 1. The themes obtained through the analysis of
prospective teachers' experiences about teaching
reading-writing with phonic-based sentence method

 F %

I. Teaching process of reading-writing
with phonic-based sentence method:

COGNITIVE ASPECTS

 a. The pieces are combined to form a
 whole and then applied 55 27.92
 b. There is step-by-step progress 29 14.72
 c. It is a cumulative process 9 4.57

 Interim total 93 47.21

II. Teaching process of reading-writing
with phonic-based sentence method:

NEGATIVE ASPECTS

 a. It is a very challenging process 33 16.75
 b. It is not based on understanding 13 6.60
 c. It results in a problematic way
 of reading-writing 5 2.54

 Interim total 51 25.89

III. Teaching process of reading-writing
with phonic-based sentence method:

AFFECTIVE ASPECTS

 a. It requires effort 13 6.60
 b. It is pleasant 12 6.09
 c. It is boring 7 3.55
 d. It requires patience 5 2.54

 Interim total 37 18.78

IV. Teaching process of reading-writing
with phonic-based sentence method:

POSITIVE ASPECTS

 a. It is fruitful 12 6.09
 b. It is easy to practice 4 2.03

 Interim total 16 8.12

Total 197 100

Figure 1. The frequency and percentage values of the
obtained themes.

Cognitive aspects 47%
Negative aspects 26%
Affective aspects 19%
Positive aspects 8%

Note: Table made from pie chart.
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Author:Dogan, Birsen
Publication:Reading Improvement
Article Type:Clinical report
Date:Dec 22, 2012
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