The impact of morphological interventions on spelling outcomes in English: A systematic review

The impact of morphological interventions on spelling outcomes in English: A systematic review

First Author: Karol Ann Moore -- Texas A&M University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Poh Wee Koh; Alida Hudson; Gloria Ramirez; R. Malatesha Joshi
Keywords: Morphology, Intervention, Spelling, Systematic review
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. Increasingly, research suggests the importance of morphological awareness in spelling (Breadmore & Deacon, 2019), especially among children with reading difficulties. However, our understanding of the characteristics of morphological instruction that promote spelling outcomes is lacking. The present study thus examined characteristics of morphological interventions that improve spelling among school-aged children in the literature.

Method. A systematic review of available literature in peer-reviewed journals on the impact of morphological interventions on spelling performance among grades K-12 students yielded 15 studies. These studies were coded for characteristics of interventions, including main constructs and specific content covered in instruction, and the impact of the different interventions on spelling outcomes.

Results. Three main trends were observed in the findings. First, most interventions reviewed included instruction in phonology and/or spelling rules other than morphology (> 50%). Second, in studies reviewed, morphological instruction focused on teaching students how to identify inflectional and derivational affixes, bases, and roots, and using them to generate derivatives. Compounding and word origins were taught to a smaller extent. Third, the interventions produced significant gains in spelling outcomes in typically developing children. For at-risk readers, gains in spelling were observed only in interventions that also included instruction in spelling rules.

Conclusions. Results suggest that instruction aimed at developing both awareness of morphemes and spelling rules are most effective in developing children’s spelling abilities, particularly with at-risk learners. Theoretical and educational implications of the results will be discussed.