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We examined morphological awareness and reading achievement in university students in two ways. First, students with and without a self-reported history of reading difficulties were compared on word reading and text reading achievement, and on the reading-related skills of morphological awareness, orthographic processing, and phonological processing. Second, the unique contribution of morphological awareness to reading achievement was examined for a larger sample of first-year university students. Students with a self-reported history of reading difficulties (n = 54) showed moderate to large gaps in each area of reading achievement, and timed reading comprehension appeared more severely impaired than word-reading efficiency. These students had a deficit in morphological awareness that persisted even when (a) phonological awareness and orthographic processing skills, or (b) word-reading accuracy were statistically controlled. In the larger first-year sample (N = 211), morphological awareness contributed to variance in word reading beyond that accounted for by phonological awareness and orthographic processing. Furthermore, of the reading-related skills, only morphological awareness made a unique contribution to reading comprehension beyond variance accounted for by word reading. Taken together, these results demonstrate that morphological awareness makes unique contributions to university students’ reading achievement and is an additional difficulty for students with a self-reported history of reading difficulties.
We examined the cross-lagged relations between word reading fluency in the two orthographic systems of Japanese: phonetic (syllabic) Hiragana and morphographic Kanji. One hundred forty-two Japanese-speaking children were assessed on word reading fluency twice in Grade 1 (Times 1 and 2) and twice in Grade 2 (Times 3 and 4). Nonverbal IQ, vocabulary, phonological awareness, morphological awareness, and rapid automatized naming were also assessed in Time 1. Results of path analysis revealed that Time 1 Hiragana fluency predicted Time 2 Kanji fluency after controlling for the cognitive skills. Time 2 Hiragana fluency did not predict Time 3 Kanji fluency or vice versa after the autoregressor was controlled, but Hiragana and Kanji fluency were reciprocally related between Times 3 and 4. These findings provide evidence for a cross-script transfer of word reading fluency across the two contrastive orthographic systems, and the first evidence of fluency in a morphographic script predicting fluency development in a phonetic script within the same language.
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