Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling

Department name when degree awarded

Special Education and Rehabilitation

Committee Chair(s)

Julie A. Wolter (Committee Chair), Timothy Slocum (Committee Co-Chair)


Julie A. Wolter


Timothy Slocum


Ron Gillam


Kim Corbin-Lewis


Cindy Jones


Although sound awareness has been proven critical for skilled literacy development, further investigation is needed to examine additional factors that could also be critical. Awareness of meaning or morphological awareness is an additional factor that could impact literacy development. Although morphological awareness is mastered early in spoken language, little is known in regard to this skill in other language and literacy contexts. This study investigated the validity of a dynamic measure of morphological awareness (DMMA) in young children. Seventy-eight first-grade children completed a language and literacy battery. Morphological awareness was assessed using both a standardized and an experimental measure comprised of two subtasks, comprehension and expression. The dynamic portion of the experimental task used a graduated prompting to support a child’s accurate performance.

The validity of the interpretations of morphological awareness performance was explored through multiple sources of evidence. The DMMA content was designed to include both types of meaning units balanced across the subtasks. The stimuli selection, structure, administration and scoring were considered in the design provide consistent presentation and documentation of the children’s responses. The performance similarity and dissimilarity were explored and discovered as evidence for the internal structure of the DMMA. The DMMA also appeared to demonstrate consistent measurement of performance that provides more evidence for validity.

The performance relationships were explored between all the morphological awareness measures and with the other language and literacy measures. Medium-sized, significant relationships were found between the morphological awareness measures individually and with the majority of the other language and literacy measure for the entire sample. However, significant differences were found between the performance subgroupings. The interpretations of DMMA performance appeared to be sensitive to specific classifications predictions when compared to other predictive measures.

The unique contributions of morphological awareness as assessed by the DMMA to literacy skills were also explored. Morphological awareness appears to potentially contribute variance to literacy skills; however, whether this contribution needs to be explored further in young children. These current findings could have been impacted due to the developing emergent nature of the skills targeted in the study population and the significant performance differences between the two subgroupings.

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 development. The DMMA also appears to result in improved outcomes compared to the traditional 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.