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Adan Cooney, Allie Matuszewski, Marie Kerins, Ph.D.

Effects of Morphological Intervention on the Decoding and Encoding Skills of Early-Grade School Children At-Risk for Later Literacy Programs

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School aged children that struggle with learning to read frequently have other associated language difficulties including below age level spelling skills, reading comprehension difficulties, and difficulties with syntax and semantics. Recent research has indicated the importance of explicit teaching about morphemes as a method for improving these literacy skills. According to Goodwin and Ahn (2010), morphological awareness may be more beneficial than phonological awareness in assisting students struggling with reading and spelling because of the function that morphemes and phonemes have in the English language. While phonemes are sounds, which must be put together to create meaning, morphemes inherently carry meaning. McCutchen, Green and Abbott (2008) reported that morphological analysis is instrumental in reading because it expands oral and reading vocabulary, and aids in decoding written words. There is little in the literature that suggests any specific treatment program for explicitly teaching morphology.

In this study, 20 eleven and twelve year old children identified with language-based learning disabilities were divided across two language-arts classes. One group was taught the meaning of affixes and roots and the second group was taught affixes, roots and parts of speech from October to May during a school year. Student’s ability to understand word meaning was assessed and then compared using two non-standardized measures looking at two developmental levels of morphological constructions in sentence completion tasks. While both groups demonstrated improvement in their morphological awareness skills across the course of the year, the only significant between-group difference was transparent base words )F = 5 .028 (df 2,18), p = .038). Findings suggest that neither program is superior to teaching MA. Implications for instructional programs are suggested and ideas for future research are discussed.

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