Effects of a morpheme based intervention - What do we train?

Effects of a morpheme based intervention - What do we train?

First Author: Karin Landerl -- University of Graz
Additional authors/chairs: 
Viktoria Jöbstl; Reinhard Kargl; Elisabeth Beyersmann
Keywords: Morphology, Training study, Elementary
Abstract / Summary: 

The goal of our study was to examine the efficiency and the underlying mechanisms of a morpheme-based training. While positive effects on written language processing have been shown before, we were especially interested whether such a training has an impact on implicit segmentation processes when reading morphemically complex words. During an eight-week period, 53 German-speaking second graders received a (partly computerized) training introducing morphemes as the basic building blocks of language and practicing high-frequency morphemes in reading and spelling. The age-matched control group (N = 41) attended regular German classes. In a pre-/posttest design, we assessed word and nonword reading, spelling, morphological awareness, and implicit word segmentation based on a lexical decision paradigm with masked priming, presenting primes with different morphological structure and semantic relation to the target (affixed words, affixed nonwords, nonaffixed words, unrelated). The analysis revealed positive training effects on spelling, while word and nonword reading did not show a stronger improvement in the training compared to the control group. Furthermore, performance in a morphological awareness task improved similarly in both groups. In the lexical decision task assessing implicit word segmentation, target response times improved more strongly in the training than the control group, but there was no clear impact of training on the pattern of morphological priming effects. Thus, while the training could improve written language processing, it is unclear whether these effects can be attributed to improvements in children´s morphological processing skills.