Some cognitive processes may be shared between reading comprehension and reading fluency, while others may be independent. In this longitudinal study, 127 Chinese children in grades 1–2 were tested three times (T1–T3) to explore the contributions of early morphological awareness and rapid automatized naming (RAN) to subsequent reading comprehension and reading fluency. The results demonstrated that both T1 morphological awareness and RAN directly and significantly explained a similar amount of variance in T3 reading comprehension and reading fluency. T1 Morphological awareness predicted T3 reading comprehension via T2 word-reading accuracy but not word-reading fluency, whereas the indirect influence of T1 RAN on T3 reading comprehension was not significant. In contrast, morphological awareness predicted reading fluency via word-reading accuracy and fluency, while RAN predicted it only via word-reading fluency not accuracy. The findings add to the growing literature by providing evidence of the similarities and differences in the cognitive underpinnings of reading comprehension versus reading fluency in Chinese children.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Araújo, S., Reis, A., Petersson, K. M., & Faísca, L. (2015). Rapid automatized naming and reading performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(3), 868–883. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000006.
Berends, I. E., & Reitsma, P. (2006). Addressing semantics promotes the development of reading fluency. Applied Psycholinguistics, 27(2), 247–265. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716406060279.
Caramazza, A., Laudanna, A., & Romani, C. (1988). Lexical access and inflectional morphology. Cognition, 28(3), 297–332. https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0277(88)90017-0.
Carlisle, J. F. (2000). Awareness of the structure and meaning of morphologically complex words: Impact on reading. Reading and Writing, 12(3), 169–190. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1008131926604.
Carlisle, J. F. (2010). Effects of instruction in morphological awareness on literacy achievement: An integrative review. Reading Research Quarterly, 45(4), 464–487. https://doi.org/10.2307/20779541.
Cheng, Y., Li, L., & Wu, X. (2015). The reciprocal relationship between compounding awareness and vocabulary knowledge in Chinese: A latent growth model study. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, article 440. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00440.
Cheng, Y., Zhang, J., Li, H., Wu, X., Liu, H., Dong, Q., et al. (2017). Growth of compounding awareness predicts reading comprehension in young Chinese students: A longitudinal study from grade 1 to grade 2. Reading Research Quarterly, 52(1), 91–104. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.155.
Cheng, Y., Zhang, J., Wu, X., Liu, H., & Li, H. (2016). Cross-lagged relationships between morphological awareness and reading comprehension among Chinese children. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, article 1379. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01379.
Cohen-Mimran, R. (2009). The contribution of language skills to reading fluency: A comparison of two orthographies for Hebrew. Journal of Child Language, 36(3), 657–672. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305000908009148.
Cole, D. A., & Maxwell, S. E. (2003). Testing mediational models with longitudinal data: Questions and tips in the use of structural equation modeling. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112(4), 558–577. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.112.4.558.
Collins, W. M., & Levy, B. A. (2008). Developing fluent text processing with practice: Memorial influences on fluency and comprehension. Canadian Psychology, 49(2), 133–139. https://doi.org/10.1037/0708-55184.108.40.206.
Deacon, S. H., Kieffer, M. J., & Laroche, A. (2014). The relation between morphological awareness and reading comprehension: Evidence from mediation and longitudinal models. Scientific Studies of Reading, 18(6), 432–451. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2014.926907.
Deacon, S. H., Tong, X., & Francis, K. (2017). The relationship of morphological analysis and morphological decoding to reading comprehension. Journal of Research in Reading, 40(1), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9817.12056.
DeFrancis, J. (1989). Visible speech: The diverse oneness of writing systems. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Ehri, L. C. (1995). Phases of development in learning to read words by sight. Journal of Research in Reading, 18(2), 116–125. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9817.1995.tb00077.x.
Ehri, L. C. (2005). Learning to read words: Theory, findings, and issues. Scientific Studies of Reading, 9(2), 167–188. https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532799xssr0902_4.
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., & Compton, D. L. (2004). Monitoring early reading development in first grade: Word identification fluency versus nonsense word fluency. Exceptional Children, 71(1), 7–21. https://doi.org/10.1177/001440290407100101.
Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hosp, M. K., & Jenkins, J. R. (2001). Oral reading fluency as an indicator of reading competence: A theoretical, empirical, and historical analysis. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5(3), 239–256. https://doi.org/10.1207/S1532799XSSR0503_3.
Garcia, J. R., & Cain, K. (2014). Decoding and reading comprehension: A meta-analysis to identify which reader and assessment characteristics influence the strength of the relationship in English. Review of Educational Research, 84(1), 74–111. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654313499616.
Georgiou, G. K., Aro, M., Liao, C., & Parrila, R. (2016). Modeling the relationship between rapid automatized naming and literacy skills across languages varying in orthographic consistency. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 143, 48–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2015.10.017.
Georgiou, G. K., Parrila, R., Cui, Y., & Papadopoulos, T. C. (2013). Why is rapid automatized naming related to reading? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115(1), 218–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2012.10.015.
Georgiou, G. K., Parrila, R., & Kirby, J. (2006). Rapid naming speed components and early reading acquisition. Scientific Studies of Reading, 10(2), 199–220. https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532799xssr1002_4.
Geva, E., & Farnia, F. (2012). Developmental changes in the nature of language proficiency and reading fluency paint a more complex view of reading comprehension in ELL and EL1. Reading and Writing, 25(8), 1819–1845. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-011-9333-8.
Goodwin, A. P., Huggins, A. C., Carlo, M., August, D., & Calderon, M. (2013). Minding morphology: How morphological awareness relates to reading for English language learners. Reading and Writing, 26(9), 1387–1415. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-012-9412-5.
Gough, P. B., & Tunmer, W. E. (1986). Decoding, reading, and reading disability. Remedial and Special Education, 7(1), 6–10. https://doi.org/10.1177/074193258600700104.
Ho, C. S., Chan, D. W., Lee, S., Tsang, S., & Luan, V. H. (2004). Cognitive profiling and preliminary subtyping in Chinese developmental dyslexia. Cognition, 91(1), 43–75. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0010-0277(03)00163-X.
Hoover, W. A., & Gough, P. B. (1990). The simple view of reading. Reading and Writing, 2(2), 127–160. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00401799.
Hudson, R. F., Lane, H. B., & Pullen, P. C. (2005). Reading fluency assessment and instruction: What, why, and how? The Reading Teacher, 58(8), 702–714. https://doi.org/10.1598/RT.58.8.1.
Hudson, R. F., Pullen, P. C., Lane, H. B., & Torgesen, J. K. (2009). The complex nature of reading fluency: A multidimensional view. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 25(1), 4–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/10573560802491208.
Institute of Language Teaching and Research [of China]. (1986). A frequency dictionary of modern Chinese. Beijing: Beijing Language Institute Press.
Jenkins, J. R., Fuchs, L. S., Den Broek, P. V., Espin, C. A., & Deno, S. L. (2003). Sources of individual differences in reading comprehension and reading fluency. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(4), 719–729. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.119.
Johnston, T. C., & Kirby, J. R. (2006). The contribution of naming speed to the simple view of reading. Reading and Writing, 19(4), 339–361. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-005-4644-2.
Joshi, R. M., & Aaron, P. G. (2000). The component model of reading: Simple view of reading made a little more complex. Reading Psychology, 21(2), 85–97. https://doi.org/10.1080/02702710050084428.
Kieffer, M. J., Biancarosa, G., & Mancillamartinez, J. (2013). Roles of morphological awareness in the reading comprehension of Spanish-speaking language minority learners: Exploring partial mediation by vocabulary and reading fluency. Applied Psycholinguistics, 34(4), 697–725. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716411000920.
Kieffer, M. J., & Lesaux, N. K. (2012). Direct and indirect roles of morphological awareness in the English reading comprehension of native English, Spanish, Filipino, and Vietnamese speakers. Language Learning, 62(4), 1170–1204. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2012.00722.x.
Kim, Y. G. (2015). Developmental, component-based model of reading fluency: An investigation of predictors of word-reading fluency, text-reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 50(4), 459–481. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.107.
Kirby, J. R., Deacon, S. H., Bowers, P. N., Izenberg, L., Wadewoolley, L., & Parrila, R. (2012). Children’s morphological awareness and reading ability. Reading and Writing, 25(2), 389–410. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-010-9276-5.
Kuhn, M. R., Schwanenflugel, P. J., & Meisinger, E. B. (2010). Aligning theory and assessment of reading fluency: Automaticity, prosody, and definitions of fluency. Reading Research Quarterly, 45(2), 230–251. https://doi.org/10.1598/RRQ.45.2.4.
Kuo, L., & Anderson, R. C. (2006). Morphological awareness and learning to read: A cross-language perspective. Educational Psychologist, 41(3), 161–180. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4103_3.
LaBerge, D., & Samuels, S. J. (1974). Toward a theory of automatic information processing in reading. Cognitive Psychology, 6(2), 293–323. https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(74)90015-2.
Layes, S., Lalonde, R., & Rebaï, M. (2017). Study on morphological awareness and rapid automatized naming through word reading and comprehension in normal and disabled reading Arabic-speaking children. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 33(2), 123–140. https://doi.org/10.1080/10573569.2015.1105763.
Lei, L., Pan, J., Liu, H., Mcbridechang, C., Li, H., Zhang, Y., et al. (2011). Developmental trajectories of reading development and impairment from ages 3 to 8 years in Chinese children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52(2), 212–220. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02311.x.
Levesque, K. C., Kieffer, M. J., & Deacon, S. H. (2017). Morphological awareness and reading comprehension: Examining mediating factors. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 160, 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2017.02.015.
Li, H., Shu, H., Mcbridechang, C., Liu, H., & Peng, H. (2012). Chinese children’s character recognition: Visuo-orthographic, phonological processing and morphological skills. Journal of Research in Reading, 35(3), 287–307. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9817.2010.01460.x.
Li, L., & Wu, X. (2015). Effects of metalinguistic awareness on reading comprehension and the mediator role of reading fluency from grades 2 to 4. PLoS ONE, 10(3), e114417. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0114417.
Liao, C., Deng, C., Hamilton, J., Lee, C. S., Wei, W., & Georgiou, G. K. (2015). The role of rapid naming in reading development and dyslexia in Chinese. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 130, 106–122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2014.10.002.
Liao, C., Georgiou, G. K., & Parrila, R. (2008). Rapid naming speed and Chinese character recognition. Reading and Writing, 21(3), 231–253. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-007-9071-0.
Liu, P. D., & McBride-Chang, C. (2010). What is morphological awareness? Tapping lexical compounding awareness in Chinese third graders. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 62–73. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016933.
Liu, P. D., McBride-Chang, C., Wong, T. T., Shu, H., & Wong, A. M. (2013). Morphological awareness in Chinese: Unique associations of homophone awareness and lexical compounding to word reading and vocabulary knowledge in Chinese children. Applied Psycholinguistics, 34(4), 755–775. https://doi.org/10.1017/S014271641200001X.
Liu, Y., Georgiou, G. K., Zhang, Y., Hong, L., Liu, H., Song, S., et al. (2017). Contribution of cognitive and linguistic skills to word-reading accuracy and fluency in Chinese. International Journal of Educational Research, 82, 75–90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2016.12.005.
Luo, Y. C., Chen, X., Deacon, S. H., Zhang, J., & Yin, L. (2012). The role of visual processing in learning to read Chinese characters. Scientific Studies of Reading, 17(1), 22–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2012.689790.
McBride, C. A. (2016). Is Chinese special? Four aspects of Chinese literacy acquisition that might distinguish learning Chinese from learning alphabetic orthographies. Educational Psychology Review, 28(3), 523–549. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-015-9318-2.
McBride-Chang, C., Lam, F., Lam, C., Chan, B., Fong, C. Y. C., Wong, T. T. Y., et al. (2011). Early predictors of dyslexia in Chinese children: Familial history of dyslexia, language delay, and cognitive profiles. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52(2), 204–211. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02299.x.
McBride-Chang, C., Shu, H., Zhou, A., Wat, C. P., & Wagner, R. K. (2003). Morphological awareness uniquely predicts young children’s Chinese character recognition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(4), 743–751. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0618.104.22.1683.
McBride-Chang, C., Tardif, T., Cho, J., Shu, H., Fletcher, P. C., Stokes, S. F., et al. (2008). What’s in a word? Morphological awareness and vocabulary knowledge in three languages. Applied Psycholinguistics, 29(3), 437–462. https://doi.org/10.1017/S014271640808020X.
Norton, E. S., & Wolf, M. (2012). Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) and reading fluency: Implications for understanding and treatment of reading disabilities. Annual Review of Psychology, 63(1), 427–452. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100431.
Nunes, T., Bryant, P., & Barros, R. (2012). The development of word recognition and its significance for comprehension and fluency. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 959–973. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027412.
Pan, J., McBride-Chang, C., Shu, H., Liu, H., Zhang, Y., & Li, H. (2011). What is in the naming? A 5-year longitudinal study of early rapid naming and phonological sensitivity in relation to subsequent reading skills in both native Chinese and English as a second language. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(4), 897–908. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024344.
Pan, J., Song, S., Su, M., McBride, C., Liu, H., Zhang, Y., et al. (2016). On the relationship between phonological awareness, morphological awareness and Chinese literacy skills: evidence from an 8-year longitudinal study. Developmental Science, 19(6), 982–991. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12356.
Pasquarella, A., Chen, X., Gottardo, A., & Geva, E. (2015). Cross-language transfer of word reading accuracy and word reading fluency in Spanish-English and Chinese-English bilinguals: Script-universal and script-specific processes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 96–110. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036966.
Perfetti, C. A. (2007). Reading ability: Lexical quality to comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11(4), 357–383. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888430701530730.
Perfetti, C. A., & Hogaboam, T. (1975). Relationship between single word decoding and reading comprehension skill. Journal of Educational Psychology, 67(4), 461–469. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0077013.
Perfetti, C. A., Landi, N., & Oakhill, J. (2005). The acquisition of reading comprehension skill. In M. J. Snowling & C. Hulme (Eds.), The science of reading: A handbook (pp. 227–247). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Perfetti, C. A., & Stafura, J. Z. (2014). Word knowledge in a theory of reading comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 18(1), 22–37. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2013.827687.
Ruan, Y., Georgiou, G. K., Song, S., Li, Y., & Shu, H. (2018). Does writing system influence the associations between phonological awareness, morphological awareness, and reading? A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(2), 180–202. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000216.
Shu, H. (2003). Chinese writing system and learning to read. International Journal of Psychology, 38(5), 274–285. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207590344000060.
Shu, H., McBride-Chang, C., Wu, S., & Liu, H. (2006). Understanding Chinese developmental dyslexia: Morphological awareness as a core cognitive construct. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 122–133. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0622.214.171.124.
Siok, W. T., & Fletcher, P. C. (2001). The role of phonological awareness and visual-orthographic skills in Chinese reading acquisition. Developmental Psychology, 37(6), 886–899. https://doi.org/10.1037//0012-16126.96.36.1996.
Snowling, M. J., & Hulme, C. (2013). Children’s reading impairments: From theory to practice. Japanese Psychological Research, 55(2), 186–202. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5884.2012.00541.x.
Snowling, M. J., Hulme, C., & Nation, K. (1997). A connectionist perspective on the development of reading skills in children. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 1(3), 88–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1364-6613(97)89053-5.
Song, S., Georgiou, G. K., Su, M., & Shu, H. (2016). How well do phonological awareness and rapid automatized naming correlate with Chinese reading accuracy and fluency? A meta-analysis. Scientific Studies of Reading, 20(2), 99–123. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2015.1088543.
Song, S., Su, M., Kang, C., Liu, H., Zhang, Y., Mcbride-Chang, C., et al. (2015). Tracing children’s vocabulary development from preschool through the school-age years: An 8-year longitudinal study. Developmental Science, 18(1), 119–131. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12190.
Stainthorp, R., Stuart, M., Powell, D., Quinlan, P. T., & Garwood, H. (2010). Visual processing deficits in children with slow RAN performance. Scientific Studies of Reading, 14(3), 266–292. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888431003724070.
Stanovich, K. E. (1980). Toward an interactive-compensatory model of individual differences in the development of reading fluency. Reading Research Quarterly, 16(1), 32–71. https://doi.org/10.2307/747348.
Tibi, S., & Kirby, J. R. (2018). Investigating phonological awareness and naming speed as predictors of reading in Arabic. Scientific Studies of Reading, 22(1), 70–84. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2017.1340948.
Tong, X., McBride-Chang, C., Shu, H., & Wong, A. M. (2009). Morphological awareness, orthographic knowledge, and spelling errors: Keys to understanding early Chinese literacy acquisition. Scientific Studies of Reading, 13(5), 426–452. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888430903162910.
Tong, X., Tong, X., & McBride, C. (2017). Unpacking the relation between morphological awareness and Chinese word reading: Levels of morphological awareness and vocabulary. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 48, 167–178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2016.07.003.
Verhoeven, L., & Perfetti, C. A. (2011a). Introduction to this special issue: Vocabulary growth and reading skill. Scientific Studies of Reading, 15(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2011.536124.
Verhoeven, L., & Perfetti, C. A. (2011b). Morphological processing in reading acquisition: A cross-linguistic perspective. Applied Psycholinguistics, 32(3), 457–466. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716411000154.
Wang, M., Cheng, C., & Chen, S. (2006). Contribution of morphological awareness to chinese-english biliteracy acquisition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(3), 542–553. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.522.
Wei, W., Georgiou, G. K., & Deng, C. (2015). Examining the cross-lagged relationships between RAN and word reading in Chinese. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19(6), 446–455. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2015.1077447.
Weng, X., Li, G., & Li, R. (2015). Mediating effects of working Memory in the relation between Rapid Automatized Naming and Chinese reading comprehension. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 45(4), 945–959. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-015-9385-z.
Wolf, M. (1984). Naming, reading, and the dyslexias: A longitudinal overview. Annals of Dyslexia, 34(1), 87–115. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02663615.
Wolf, M., & Bowers, P. G. (1999). The double-deficit hypothesis for the developmental dyslexias. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(3), 415–438.
Wu, X., Anderson, R. C., Li, W., Wu, X., Li, H., Zhang, J., et al. (2009). Morphological awareness and Chinese children’s literacy development: An intervention study. Scientific Studies of Reading, 13(1), 26–52. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.2065.
Xue, J., Shu, H., Li, H., Li, W., & Tian, X. (2013). The stability of literacy-related cognitive contributions to Chinese character naming and reading fluency. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 42(5), 433–450. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10936-012-9228-0.
Yeung, P., Ho, C. S., Chan, D. W., Chung, K. K., & Wong, Y. (2013). A model of reading comprehension in Chinese elementary school children. Learning and Individual Differences, 25(3), 55–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2013.03.004.
Zhang, H. C., & Wang, X. P. (1985). Chinese version of Raven’s IQ reasoning standardized test. Beijing: Beijing Normal University Press. (in Chinese).
Zhang, J., Mcbride-Chang, C., Tong, X., Wong, A. M. Y., Shu, H., & Fong, C. Y. C. (2012). Reading with meaning: the contributions of meaning-related variables at the word and subword levels to early Chinese reading comprehension. Reading and Writing, 25(9), 2183–2203. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-011-9353-4.
Ziegler, J. C., Bertrand, D., Tóth, D., Csépe, V., Reis, A., Faísca, L., et al. (2010). Orthographic depth and its impact on universal predictors of reading a cross-language investigation. Psychological Science, 21(4), 551–559. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797610363406.
We thank all the principals, teachers, children and their parents for their participation. This research was supported by Major Project of the National Social Science Fund of China (13&ZD188) and by Major Project of Philosophy and Social Science Foundation by Ministry of Education (11JZD041).
About this article
Cite this article
Zhao, Y., Cheng, Y. & Wu, X. Contributions of morphological awareness and rapid automatized naming (RAN) to Chinese children’s reading comprehension versus reading fluency: evidence from a longitudinal mediation model. Read Writ 32, 2013–2036 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-019-09935-w
- Reading comprehension
- Reading fluency
- Morphological awareness
- Rapid automatized naming (RAN)
- Word-reading skills