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Morphological awareness: Just “more phonological”? The roles of morphological and phonological awareness in reading development

  • S. HÉLÈNE DEACON (a1) and JOHN R. KIRBY (a2)


Given the morphophonemic nature of the English orthography, surprisingly few studies have examined the roles of morphological and phonological awareness in reading. This 4-year longitudinal study (Grades 2–5) compared these two factors in three aspects of reading development: pseudoword reading, reading comprehension, and single word reading. Morphological awareness contributed significantly to pseudoword reading and reading comprehension, after controlling prior measures of reading ability, verbal and nonverbal intelligence, and phonological awareness. This contribution was comparable to that of phonological awareness and remained 3 years after morphological awareness was assessed. In contrast, morphological awareness rarely contributed significantly to single word reading. We argue that these results provide evidence that morphological awareness has a wide-ranging role in reading development, one that extends beyond phonological awareness.


Corresponding author

S. Hélène Deacon, Psychology Department, Dalhousie University, Life Sciences Centre, 1355 Oxford Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4J1, Canada. E-mail:


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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
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