Knowledge of Morphologically Complex Words: A Developmental Study of Older Children and Young Adolescents Purpose This study examined knowledge of derived nominals (e.g., measurement, prediction) and derived adjectives (e.g., algebraic, molecular) in older children and young adolescents. Little was known about students' comprehension of these morphologically complex words that occur in textbooks that are used in public schools to teach challenging subjects such as ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 01, 2008
Knowledge of Morphologically Complex Words: A Developmental Study of Older Children and Young Adolescents
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marilyn A. Nippold
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Lei Sun
    University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Contact author: Marilyn A. Nippold, Communication Disorders and Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403. E-mail: nippold@uoregon.edu.
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2008
Knowledge of Morphologically Complex Words: A Developmental Study of Older Children and Young Adolescents
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2008, Vol. 39, 365-373. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2008/034)
History: Received August 10, 2007 , Accepted September 27, 2007
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2008, Vol. 39, 365-373. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2008/034)
History: Received August 10, 2007; Accepted September 27, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 23

Purpose This study examined knowledge of derived nominals (e.g., measurement, prediction) and derived adjectives (e.g., algebraic, molecular) in older children and young adolescents. Little was known about students' comprehension of these morphologically complex words that occur in textbooks that are used in public schools to teach challenging subjects such as science, mathematics, social studies, health, and literature.

Method The Word Knowledge Task (WKT), designed for the present study, was used to examine participants' comprehension of 15 derived nominals and 15 derived adjectives that were selected from state-adopted textbooks. This written, multiple-choice task was administered to 10-year-old children and 13-year-old adolescents (N = 94) who were attending public schools. All participants spoke English and were typical achievers.

Results The findings indicated that the adolescents outperformed the children on both types of derived words; the derived nominals were more difficult than the derived adjectives for both groups; and comprehension was associated with frequency of occurrence in print, with easier words generally more common than more difficult ones.

Implications Knowledge of morphologically complex words such as derived nominals and derived adjectives is a late linguistic attainment. Given the importance of these words for academic success, instructional programs are needed to ensure that children and adolescents are able to learn their meanings using appropriate strategies.

Acknowledgments
Grant 2003044 from the United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) supported this project. The authors express sincere gratitude to the granting agency; the children and adolescents who participated in the study; and the teachers and administrators who allowed the study to take place, helped in recruiting the participants, and assisted in scheduling the testing sessions. Portions of this investigation were presented at the Child Language Seminar, University of Reading, England, July 2007.
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