Measurement of Morphological Awareness of Fourth and Fifth Grade Students With Reading Difficulties

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Coggins, Joanne Veatch
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Middle Tennessee State University
The reliability and validity of a Morphological Awareness (MA) battery and a researcher created Morphological Awareness Assessment Battery (MAAB) were evaluated to determine how each type contributed to passage reading comprehension among 56 fourth and fifth graders with reading difficulties. The MA battery is an assessment battery comprised of four widely used tasks of morphological awareness, and the Morphological Awareness Assessment Battery (MAAB) is a shorter version of the MA battery and contains five newly created items designed from each of the four tasks used in the MA battery. Morphological awareness is an important skill that is linked to other literacy skills. However, a technically adequate measure of morphological awareness is needed in order to measure the impact of morphological awareness on the literacy skills known to support reading comprehension, as well as, the direct impact of morphological awareness upon reading comprehension. Prior research provides evidence that poor readers may rely upon morphological awareness as a compensatory strategy (Elbro & Arnbak, 1996), and there is evidence that morphological awareness use may predict future late emerging poor comprehenders in elementary school (Tong et al., 2011). Development of an accurate measure of morphological awareness could prove to be a critically important tool for instructional decision making of later elementary students.
In the present study, regression analyses showed that the MA battery significantly predicted between 10% and 53% of the variation in passage reading comprehension, 11% of the variation in decoding, and 35% of the variation in passage reading fluency. These findings support prior research that morphological awareness is a more accurate predictor of passage reading comprehension than measures of decoding (Tong et al., 2011) and oral vocabulary (Nagy et al., 2003). Examination of the direct relationship between morphological awareness and reading comprehension, as well as, the indirect relationships between morphological awareness and other literacy measures and reading comprehension indicated that morphological awareness is a significant factor in reading comprehension. Development of the MA battery and the MAAB, as reliable and valid measures of morphological awareness, provided an incremental step in research of the use of morphological awareness by fourth and fifth grade students with reading difficulties.
Decoding, Elementary, Morphemic analysis, Morphological awareness, Reading comprehension, Reading difficulties