Examining patterns of component reading skill performance among struggling adult readers

Examining patterns of component reading skill performance among struggling adult readers

First Author: Mary Fernandes -- Georgia State University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Amani Talwar; Elizabeth Tighe
Keywords: Adult Literacy, Morphological Awareness, Latent profile analysis
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The heterogeneity of struggling adult readers in terms of demographic factors (Lesgold & Welch-Ross, 2012) and variability in strengths and weaknesses of component reading skills (Nanda, Greenerg, & Morris, 2010) is well documented. Some recent work has explored the existence of distinct subgroups based on several component reading skills (e.g., decoding, fluency; Binder & Lee, 2012; MacArthur, Konold, Glutting, & Alamprese, 2012); however, little is known about the variability in metalinguistic skills (morphological awareness, phonological awareness, orthographic knowledge) among struggling adult readers. Latent Class Analysis (LCA) is one innovative method of identifying distinct, underlying classes within the data that are based on patterns of performance.

Method: Participants included 220 struggling adult readers who were largely native speakers of English. We conducted LCA on composite scores of phonological awareness, orthographic knowledge, morphological awareness, decoding, and oral vocabulary.

Results: Three distinct latent classes were identified. One class of 79 individuals was relatively strong in all five skills; a second class of 108 individuals was average in all skills; and a final class of 33 individuals was relatively weak in all skills. Additionally, ANOVAs revealed that there were significant differences between classes in reading comprehension performance and age. A chi-square test of independence showed no significant relationship between class membership and gender.

Conclusions: The existence of three latent classes provides support for previous research demonstrating distinct subgroups among struggling adult readers. Further, the three groups show the most variability in morphological awareness, implicating this skill as a target of future intervention.