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Tracking the serial advantage in the naming rate of multiple over isolated stimulus displays

Abstract

The serial advantage, defined as the gain in naming rate in the serial over the discrete task of the same content, was examined between grades and types of content in English and Greek. 720 English- and Greek-speaking children from Grades 1, 3, and 5 were tested in rapid naming and reading tasks of different content, including digits, objects, dice, number words, and words. Each type of content was presented in two presentation formats: multiple stimulus displays (i.e., serial naming) and isolated stimulus displays (i.e., discrete naming). Serial tasks yielded faster naming rates—irrespective of task content—in both languages. However, content-specific characteristics influenced the trajectory of the serial advantage between grades. Improvement in the serial advantage between grades was found to be greatest for word reading, which started off similar to object naming in Grade 1, but ended up similar to digit or dice naming by Grade 5. In addition, growth in serial advantage was found to be associated with growth in discrete naming rate only in grade level analysis. For individuals, greater serial advantage was found to rely on processing skills specific to serial naming rather than on differences in the rate of naming isolated items. Our findings suggest that group level findings may not generalize to individuals, and although practice and familiarity with the content on the naming/reading task may impact the development of serial advantage, isolated item identification processes contribute little to individual differences in the gain in serial naming rates.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In some psychometric batteries (e.g., The Process Assessment of The Learner; Berninger, 2007) RAN is even assessed with word naming.

  2. 2.

    The same English and Greek datasets (or subsamples) have been used in previous studies (Altani et al., 2017a, 2018, 2019; Protopapas et al., 2018) to address different research questions with different analyses.

  3. 3.

    A minimum level of 70% correct in word reading/word naming has been reported as a reliable threshold before speed variability can emerge (Altani et al., 2019; Juul et al., 2014). To retain a consistent sample across conditions, all data from first graders in English with more than 30% errors in word naming were removed from subsequent analyses.

  4. 4.

    Use of difference scores has been criticised on a variety of methodological grounds (e.g., Edwards, 1994, 2001). One important concern relates to their reliability, which is typically lower than that of the original variables. However, it has been recently argued that, even though there are often preferable alternative approaches, such concerns may have been overstated in the general case (especially in group comparisons; Thomas & Zumbo, 2012), and much depends on the actual reliabilities and intercorrelations of the subtracted measures in each particular case (Gollwitzer, Christ, & Lemmer, 2014; Trafimow, 2015). In the present study, we focus on the difference between the two formats because it directly corresponds to the hypothesized overlap.

  5. 5.

    We are grateful to an anonymous reviewer for pointing this out.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Dimitris Sagris and Iliana Kolotoura for help administering the tasks and processing the responses in Greek, and Megan Boonstra for help administering the tasks and processing the responses in English.

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Correspondence to Angeliki Altani.

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Altani, A., Protopapas, A., Katopodi, K. et al. Tracking the serial advantage in the naming rate of multiple over isolated stimulus displays. Read Writ 33, 349–375 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-019-09962-7

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Keywords

  • Cross-linguistic
  • Discrete naming
  • Naming rate
  • Rapid automatized naming
  • Serial naming
  • Word reading