Morphological Analysis in School-Age Children: Dynamic Assessment of a Word Learning Strategy Purpose Morphological analysis is the ability to use knowledge of root words and affixes to determine the meanings of unfamiliar, morphologically complex words. Beginning in the early elementary grades and continuing into the college years, it is a primary strategy that is used to increase one’s knowledge of difficult vocabulary. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 01, 2007
Morphological Analysis in School-Age Children: Dynamic Assessment of a Word Learning Strategy
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jennifer A. Larsen
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Marilyn A. Nippold
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Contact author: Marilyn A. Nippold, Communication Disorders and Sciences, College of Education, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403. E-mail: nippold@uoregon.edu.
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Language Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2007
Morphological Analysis in School-Age Children: Dynamic Assessment of a Word Learning Strategy
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2007, Vol. 38, 201-212. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2007/021)
History: Received October 28, 2005 , Revised April 11, 2006 , Accepted November 1, 2006
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2007, Vol. 38, 201-212. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2007/021)
History: Received October 28, 2005; Revised April 11, 2006; Accepted November 1, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 22

Purpose Morphological analysis is the ability to use knowledge of root words and affixes to determine the meanings of unfamiliar, morphologically complex words. Beginning in the early elementary grades and continuing into the college years, it is a primary strategy that is used to increase one’s knowledge of difficult vocabulary. The purpose of this study was to investigate how well school-age children could use morphological analysis to explain word meanings. The study was also designed to examine individual differences in this domain in relation to children’s broader literacy skills.

Method The ability of 50 typically developing sixth-grade children to explain the meanings of 15 low-frequency morphologically complex words was measured using a dynamic assessment procedure. Children were individually interviewed and were asked to define each word. As needed, varying degrees of adult scaffolding were provided. Children were also assessed for their word knowledge and reading comprehension.

Results Performance on the dynamic assessment task revealed a wide range of skill levels in these children and was positively related to the children’s literacy levels. Although some children readily used morphological analysis to explain the meanings of unfamiliar words, others required greater amounts of adult scaffolding to be successful.

Implications Suggestions are offered for ways to employ dynamic assessment to examine children’s ability to use morphological analysis as a word learning strategy.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors express sincere gratitude to the children who participated in this research project, to the parents who granted permission for their son or daughter to participate, and to the public school teachers and administrators who allowed the testing to take place at their schools. This research report is based on the first author’s doctoral dissertation under the direction of the second author.
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