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Version 1.1 – Updated August 2021

Whole language approach

Overview

  • Influence: Whole language approach
  • Domain: Curricula
  • Sub-Domain: Reading, writing and the arts
  • Potential to Accelerate Student Achievement: Likely to have a small positive impact
  • Influence Definition: An approach to reading that shows students how language is a system of parts that work together to make meaning. It has also been called balanced literacy and invites students to learn reading by exploring a literacy-rich environment.

Evidence

  • Number of meta-analyses: 5
  • Number of studies: 81
  • Number of students: 8,018
  • Number of effects: 288
  • Effect size: 0.09

Meta-Analyses

Meta-Analyses
Journal Title Author First Author's Country Article Name Year Published Variable Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Effect Size
Review of Educational Research Stahl & Miller USA Whole language and language experience approaches for beginning reading: A quantitative research synthesis 1989 Effects of whole language instruction 15 0 117 0.09
Conference Paper Gee USA An introduction to human language: Fundamental concepts in linguistics 1993 Effects of whole language instruction 21 0 52 0.65
Educational Psychologist Stahl, McKenna, & Pagnucco USA The effects of whole-language instruction: An update and a reappraisal 1994 Effects of whole language instruction 14 0 14 0.15
The Elementary School Journal Jeynes & Littell USA A meta-analysis of studies examining the effect of whole language instruction on the literacy of low-SES students. 2000 Effects of whole language instruction 14 630 14 -0.65
Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Abrami, Lysenko, & Borokhovski Canada The effects of ABRACADABRA on reading outcomes: An updated meta-analysis and landscape review of applied field research 2020 Effects of Balanced Literacy interventions 17 7,388 91 0.20
TOTAL/AVERAGE 81 8,018 288 0.09

Confidence

The Confidence is the average of these four measures, each divided into five approximately equal groups and assigned a value from 1 to 5 based on the following criteria:

  • Number of Meta-analyses
    • 1 = 1
    • 2 = 2–3
    • 3 = 4–6
    • 4 = 7–9
    • 5 = 10+
  • Number of Studies
    • 1 = 1–10
    • 2 = 11–50
    • 3 = 51–200
    • 4 = 201–400
    • 5 = 400+
  • Number of Students
    • 1 = 1–2,500
    • 2 = 2,501–10,000
    • 3 = 10,000–20,000
    • 4 = 20,000–100,000
    • 5 = 100,001+
  • Number of Effects
    • 1 = 1–100
    • 2 = 101–300
    • 3 = 301–600
    • 4 = 601–1,200
    • 5 = 1,200+
Confidences
Number of Meta-Analyses Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Overall Confidence
Confidence Factor 3 3 2 2 3
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