Morphological Awareness: Multidimensional or Unidimensional in Beginning Readers?

Morphological Awareness: Multidimensional or Unidimensional in Beginning Readers?

First Author: Lindsay ROSENBERG -- Dalhousie University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Levesque Kyle; Deacon Helene
Keywords: Morphological Awareness, Reading acquisition, Word reading, Grade One, Literacy development
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Studies have demonstrated evidence for both multidimensionality and unidimensionality in morphological awareness. More specifically morphological structure awareness and morphological analysis have been demonstrated to be two distinct aspects of morphological awareness (Levesque, Kieffer, & Deacon, 2017). The goal of the present study was to explore whether morphological awareness is unidimensional or multidimensional in the beginning stages of reading, in grade 1. Furthermore, the relationship between morphological awareness and word reading ability was explored.
Methods: 338 grade 1 students from schools in Halifax, Nova Scotia were assessed on morphological analysis, morphological structure awareness, word reading, and control measures including phonological awareness, vocabulary, nonverbal ability, and working memory. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to assess the dimensionality of morphological awareness. Structural equation modeling was used to determine whether morphological awareness predicted word reading.
Results: There was no significant difference between the unidimensional and multidimensional models of morphological awareness, thus we deferred to the more parsimonious unidimensional model of morphological awareness. It was confirmed that morphological awareness contributed to word reading over and above control measures. The results of the study suggest that at the beginning stages of reading, morphological awareness cannot be separated into distinct abilities, but as a unidimensional construct, morphological awareness abilities predict word reading at the grade 1 level.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence to support the teaching of more explicit morphological skills in schools, as this skill proves to be an important contributor to word reading ability.