Date of Award:

2017

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Advisor/Chair:

Julie A. Wolter

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Timothy Slocum

Abstract

This study investigated the validity of a dynamic measure of morphological awareness (DMMA) in young children. During the first semester of first grade, 78 children completed a language and literacy battery of tests focused on morphological awareness, general cognitive ability, general language ability, phonological awareness, vocabulary, word-level reading, and word-level spelling. Morphological awareness was assessed using a standardized static measure and an experimental dynamic measure comprised of two subtasks, receptive discrimination and expressive production.

The validity of the interpretations of morphological awareness performance was explored through sources of evidence based on test content, internal structure and reliability. The performance relationships were explored between all the morphological awareness measures and with the other language and literacy measures. Moderate, significant correlations (p < 0.01) were found between the morphological awareness measures for the entire sample. Furthermore, moderate, significant correlations (i.e., mostly at the p < 0.01 level of significance) were found between the morphological awareness measures and the other language and literacy measures, except general cognitive ability and sight-word reading for the entire sample. However, significant performance differences were found between a typically performing group and an at-risk group of children. The interpretations of DMMA performance demonstrate adequate (i.e., more than 70%) levels of sensitivity and specificity when compared to the classifications of the morphological completion and sentence imitation subtests.

The unique contributions of morphological awareness as assessed by the experimental measure to word level reading and spelling are also explored. Morphological awareness may to contribute variance to word-level reading and spelling; however, whether this is a unique, significant contribution is still unclear at the present time. Further investigation is needed.

The DMMA appears to be a valid measure of the wide range of morphological awareness in young children in the early stages of language and literacy acquisition and development. The DMMA also appears to result in improved outcomes compared to the traditional, static assessments, especially for children who are at-risk for language and literacy difficulties. The DMMA is a promising tool to assess morphological awareness in young children.

Available for download on Wednesday, August 24, 2022

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