, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 169-190

Awareness of the structure and meaning of morphologically complex words: Impact on reading

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Abstract

Many new words middle school children encounter in books they read are relatively transparent derived forms whose meanings might be figured out through analysis of the word parts. Of importance is whether students can not only read and recognize the structure of morphologically complex words but also determine their meanings. This issue was addressed by investigating the relationship of third and fifth graders' awareness of the structure and meanings of derived words and the relationship of these forms of morphological awareness to word reading and reading comprehension. The results showed that awareness of structure was significantly related to the ability to define morphologically complex words; some aspects were also significantly related to the reading of derived words. The three morphology tasks accounted for significant variance in reading comprehension at both grade levels, but the contribution was stronger for the fifth than the third grade. It may be educationally noteworthy that morphological analysis contributed significantly to reading comprehension for the third graders because they are presumably just beginning to learn to read and understand morphologically complex words.