Assessing and Modeling Lexical Stress Sensitivity: A review of the literature

Assessing and Modeling Lexical Stress Sensitivity: A review of the literature

First Author: Victoria Whaley -- University of Connecticut
Keywords: Systematic review, Lexical Stress, Decoding, Assessment
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose:
Although phonological awareness (PA) is strongly related with word reading acquisition (Ehri et al, 1995), its relationship to word reading wanes as readers advance in skill (Hogan, Catts, & Little, 2005). This may be because of the emphasis on phonemes in PA assessment may not include all phonological processing skills needed to read polysyllabic words. One of these skills may be stress sensitivity, individual variation in sensitivity to which syllables carry stress. Research has found a relationship between stress sensitivity and various reading skills (e.g. Clin et al., 2009; Holliman et al., 2008, 2010; Whalley & Hansen, 2006; Wood, 2006).

This study is a comprehensive review of the literature addressing the following questions:
1. How is stress sensitivity assessed across research?
2. What is the strength of the relationship between stress sensitivity and word reading?
3. How do learners with reading difficulty (RD) differ from typical readers with regard to stress sensitivity?
Method:
A comprehensive search was conducted of online data bases, a hand search of three journals, and an ancestral search of all included articles. Studies features were coded.
Results:
The study includes 28 peer reviewed articles. In these, 45 assessment protocols, which varied in item type, item presentation, response type, and response presentation, are described. Of these studies, seventeen included analysis with stress sensitivity as an independent variable in modeling word reading, with thirteen finding a significant effect. Only five of the studies analyzed the difference between RD and typical learners; four found a significant group effect.
Conclusions:
Researchers should continue to include stress sensitivity in reading analyses but should analyze commensurability and cohesion of assessments to assure comparability of research findings.