Text Comprehension and the Development of Auditory Lexical Retrieval in Elementary School

Text Comprehension and the Development of Auditory Lexical Retrieval in Elementary School

First Author: Patrick Dahdah -- University of Wuppertal
Additional authors/chairs: 
Johannes Naumann; Tobias Richter; Maj-Britt Haffmanns; Julia Schindler
Keywords: Lexical Quality, Auditory processing, Latent Growth Curve Analysis, Text Comprehension
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose
According to the lexical quality hypothesis, reading comprehension depends on the effective retrieval of lexical representations, constituted by the orthography, phonology, and meaning of words. Particularly, meaning representations seem to play a predictive and mediating role for effective reading comprehension. The present study examines the development of meaning retrieval in the course of elementary school, while focusing on auditory stimuli and bypassing reading processes. Similar to meaning retrieval of visually presented words, a predictive relationship with text comprehension was expected.

Method
Two cohorts with a total of 1114 elementary school children participated in a longitudinal study with five time points, beginning after enrollment in first grade, with further measurements at the end of grades one through four. Retrieval of word meanings was measured with a computerized word category test. Children listened to words and had to decide whether these belonged to a previously mentioned category. Text comprehension was assessed with the ELFE 1-6, a German reading comprehension test. A Bayesian latent growth curve model with linear and squared components was calculated.

Results
The results show a predictive relationship between the intercept and text comprehension after second grade (β=.04), and between the slope and text comprehension after fourth grade (β=.20).

Conclusion
The results confirm a predictive role of auditory lexical retrieval for text comprehension. As only the development and not the initial state of retrieval had an impact on text comprehension at the end of fourth grade, the results imply the possibility of reducing comprehension deficits by improving lexical retrieval.