Sensitivity to Word Structure: The Relationship of Knowledge of Derivational Suffixes to Reading Proficiency in Grades One and Two

By Rolande Parel and Gay Bisanz.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Typically, in the primary grades, there is a greater emphasis on narrative rather than expository text structure, an imbalance that may be detrimental to the literacy development of children more motivated by expository than narrative text. Contributing to this imbalance is the view that the higher vocabulary loads associated with expository text could affect comprehension negatively. Yet studies with children at the upper elementary level indicate that knowledge of the meaning of derivational suffixes is significantly related to the development of vocabulary knowledge and hence, reading comprehension. According to Singson, Mahony and Mann’s (2000: 241) findings for children in grades three to six, such knowledge, offered “a separate contribution to reading performance above and beyond what is furnished by vocabulary and phonological skills”. This study investigates whether the relationship found between the foregoing variables for children in grades three to six is the same for children in grades one and two. If so, then one may hypothesize that enhancing knowledge of derivational suffixes at the primary level could facilitate earlier introduction of expository texts into the primary curriculum.

Keywords: Morphological Awareness and Reading Proficiency, Knowledge of Derivational Suffixes and Reading Proficiency, Reading Strategies, Word Meaning Strategies, Morphological Analysis and Reading

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp.135-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 572.065KB).

Dr. Rolande Parel

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Rolande Parel has been a principal researcher with the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network for the past five years. She is currently an adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Alberta. She is a psycholinguist whose principal research interest is the relationship between morphological awareness and reading proficiency at all age levels.

Dr. Gay Bisanz

Professor, Department of Psychology, The University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada

The late Gay Bisanz was a Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Alberta. At the time of her death, she was the Director of the Centre for Research in Child Development and Coordinator of the Department of Psychology's Applied Developmental Science Area. Her primary research interests were in the study of Children's cognitive development with emphasis on literacy skills, the role of knowledge and critical thinking in reading comprehension, informal learning in science, and formal science instruction.

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