Testing the Self-Teaching Hypothesis: Does orthographic learning predict gains in word reading?

Testing the Self-Teaching Hypothesis: Does orthographic learning predict gains in word reading?

First Author/Chair:Helene Deacon -- Dalhousie University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Talisa Tims; Eva Marinus; Anne Castles
Keywords: Orthographic Knowledge, Word reading, Longitudinal
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Orthographic processing plays a prominent role in several theories of reading. More recently, however, different aspects of orthographic processing have been delineated. These are crystallised orthographic knowledge, or children’s established knowledge of orthographic patterns, and orthographic learning skill, or children’s skill in acquiring new orthographic patterns. Based on the Self-Teaching Hypothesis, we predict that it is the latter skill that determines children’s progress in word reading.

Method: We tested this hypothesis in a longitudinal study with a sample of 90 second and third grade students tracked over a one and a half year. At both Time 1 and Time 2, participants completed measures of crystallised orthographic knowledge, orthographic learning, word reading accuracy, and word reading fluency. At Time 1, they also completed control measures of phonological awareness and nonverbal reasoning.

Results: We used cross-lag hierarchical regression analyses to predict gains in word reading skills; as such, all analyses included an earlier measure of word reading skill entered prior to the predictor variable. We also included controls for age, nonverbal reasoning, and phonological awareness in all analyses. Our preliminary analyses show that performance on measures of crystallised orthographic knowledge did not predict gains in either word reading fluency or accuracy. In contrast, measures of orthographic learning predicted gains in measures of both word reading fluency and accuracy.

Conclusions: Our findings that orthographic learning predicted gains in word reading accuracy and fluency lend support for the importance of self-teaching in children’s reading development.