How does morphological awareness benefit reading comprehension in Spanish children? Evidence from path analysis

How does morphological awareness benefit reading comprehension in Spanish children? Evidence from path analysis

First Author: María Josefina D'Alessio -- Instituto de Lingüística, Universidad de Buenos Aires
Additional authors/chairs: 
Virginia I. Jaichenco ; Maximiliano A. Wilson
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose.
Evidence from mediation models has shown that in English morphological awareness (i.e.
explicit awareness of morphemes) benefits reading comprehension directly and indirectly
(through word reading skills). This topic has never been addressed in Spanish. Our study aimed
at investigating the relation between morphological awareness and reading comprehension in
Spanish.
Method.
Children from 4 th grade (n=125) participated in this study. We assessed reading comprehension,
word reading skills, vocabulary, non-verbal abilities and phonological awareness using
standardized tests and morphological awareness with an analogy test. Using path analysis we
tested three alternative models. In model A, morphological awareness had a direct and an indirect
effect (through word reading skills) on reading comprehension; in model B, morphological
awareness had only an indirect effect (through word reading skills) on reading comprehension; in
model C, morphological awareness had a direct effect on reading comprehension. Vocabulary,
non-verbal abilities and phonological awareness were control measures.
Results.
Models A and C had good fit as shown by the analysis of chi-square, GFI and NFI. We thus
chose the most parsimonious model: C.
Conclusions.
Our results differ from those of English. In Spanish, morphological awareness has only a direct
effect on reading comprehension. This effect is not mediated by word reading skills. In a
transparent orthography, as that of Spanish, children can achieve accuracy in word reading
through orthography-to-phonology subword conversion rules. However, morphological
awareness does enhance reading comprehension since it allows access to the semantic and
syntactic information of words.