Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Peter Cole

Second Supervisor

Dr Amanda Blackmore


A large body of evidence exists that demonstrates strong correlations between reading ability, phonological awareness and memory. The current study was designed to compare the performance of 24 10-year-old students with reading disabilities and a group of 24 8-year-old average readers, who were matched according to reading age. These students were given a decoding task requiring the recall of nonsense strings. This task was designed to measure working memory for phonological elements. An ANOVA yielded a significant main effect for group in favour of the older students, and a main effect for total errors and vowel and space location. Participants found CVC strings easier to recall than either CCV or VCC strings. They also found - - - XX (where X represents a space) nonsense strings to be easier to recall than either X- - - X or XX--- space locations. Phonological ability was then partialed out in an ANCOVA, and the main effect for group was retained. The different strategies used by each group were examined statistically and it was found that the students with reading disabilities employed problem-solving strategies to help them to complete the task.