Morphological processing in French-speaking children through primary grades

Morphological processing in French-speaking children through primary grades

First Author: Rachel Berthiaume -- Département de didactique, Université de Montréal
Additional authors/chairs: 
Daniel Daigle
Keywords: Morphological processing, French, Word recognition processes
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: In the past 30 years, an increasing number of studies have shown that morphological processing plays an important role in the development of reading skills (Sparks & Deacon, 2015; Kirby et al., 2012). However, few studies investigated the development of morphological processing itself, especially in French. The general purpose of this study was to investigate and compare morphological processing skills in French-speaking children in the primary years. Method: Our cross-sectional design included 324 participants from grades 1 to 6. We used seven morphological tasks, including plausibility judgment, segmentation, decomposition, pseudoword construction, definition, derivation, and morphological relation judgment. For these tasks, participants completed activities such as determining which of two pseudowords most resembles a real word, segmenting words into morphemes, or selecting two items among four to create a plausible pseudoword. Results: For all tasks and all groups, results were above the threshold of chance. General linear models indicated that for all tasks, the grade 4 groups’ scores did not differ significantly from those of the grade 5 or grade 6 groups. In addition, a significant correlation between all participants’ reading skills and morphology was observed. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that the strongest predictor of reading ability was the morphological relation judgment task. Conclusions: These results indicate that morphological processing abilities grow as children progress through the grade levels and are well developed by grade 4. The evidence presented also confirms the link between morphological processing skills and reading abilities, a finding that supports current models of reading development.