Vol. 5 No. 2 (1995)

The Word Recognition Abilities of Primary School Pupils: A Pilot Study in Barbados

Desmond C. Clarke
The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill


  • Primary School Students,
  • Reading Ability,
  • Pilot Projects,
  • Barbados


The paper focusses on the role of accuracy and automaticity in the development of skilled reading. The developmental phases underlying accurate word recognition are traced, and the argument advanced that for word recognition to be efficient, it must not only be accurate, but it must be automatic, that is , it must be sufficiently economic in terms of memory processing demands, as to permit the reader to concentrate on 'getting meaning.' This theoretical framework is used to carryout a pilot study using a sample of primary pupils in Barbados. ANOVA analyses are used to highlight significant gender differences in performance in terms of accuracy and automaticity. Content analyses highlight the explanatory power and instructional relevance of the 'accuracy' and 'automaticity' concepts to remedial reading instruction. The findings, though discussed in terms of the Barbados data, have implications for other contexts. Implications for further research are suggested.