Previous studies, primarily with adults with intellectual disabilities, demonstrated recombinative generalization of onset and rime units using matrix training. Study 1 extends that work to typically developing children with reading difficulties. Three boys, aged 4 to 8 years, participated. Word subsets containing all combinations of two onsets and two rimes (e.g. bed, bag, ked, kag) were taught using a computerized, matching-to-sample (MTS) task. Participants learned to select printed words that corresponded to spoken words, from a choice pool containing all words in a subset. Study 2 taught abstraction of phonemes within the rime. Each subset contained all combinations of two vowels and two codas (e.g., bed, beg, bad, bag). In both studies, participants showed generalization from MTS to reading words, and to MTS with untaught subsets. Generalization to untaught words demonstrates the “alphabetic principle”—the concept that the same sound in different words is represented by the same letter.
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