A phonological deficit constitutes a primary cause of developmental dyslexia, which persists into adulthood and can explain some aspects of their reading impairment. Nevertheless, some dyslexic adults successfully manage to study at university level, although very little is currently known about how they achieve this. The present study investigated at both the individual and group levels, whether the development of another oral language skill, namely, morphological knowledge, can be preserved and dissociated from the development of phonological knowledge. Reading, phonological, and morphological abilities were measured in 20 dyslexic and 20 non-dyslexic university students. The results confirmed the persistence of deficits in phonological but not morphological abilities, thereby revealing a dissociation in the development of these two skills. Moreover, the magnitude of the dissociation correlated with reading level. The outcome supports the claim that university students with dyslexia may compensate for phonological weaknesses by drawing on morphological knowledge in reading.
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The authors gratefully acknowledge Jennifer Martin for having allowed us to use her materials and Mélody Zira for her help in testing participants. In addition, we would like to thank all the participants in this study. Special thanks are due to Professor John R. Crawford for giving us permission to use and disseminate his single-case study method. Finally, we would also like to thank Florence Poracchia-George (CERTA, Salvator Hospital Marseille, France) for helping with the recruitment of dyslexic participants.
Items for the suffixation decision task
|Suffixed word||Pseudosuffixed word|
|French item||English translation||French item||English translation|
|Rondelette||Plump||Montgolfière||Hot air balloon|
Items for the suffixed word detection task (morphologically complex words are in bold)
|French items||English translation|
|Escampette–ciboulette–maisonnette||“Go away”–chive–little house|
Items for the phonemic awareness task
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Cavalli, E., Duncan, L.G., Elbro, C. et al. Phonemic—Morphemic dissociation in university students with dyslexia: an index of reading compensation?. Ann. of Dyslexia 67, 63–84 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11881-016-0138-y
- Morpheme awareness
- Phoneme awareness
- University students with dyslexia