Decoding: It's Not All About the Letters Purpose Reading requires the ability to decode and comprehend. Impairments in working memory (WM) are often implicated in students who are poor decoders. It is unclear whether this is a domain-specific issue or a task-specific issue. Therefore, this study examined how auditory–verbal (AV) WM, visual–spatial (VS) WM, and cognitive load ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 05, 2018
Decoding: It's Not All About the Letters
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Katie E. Squires
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Publisher Note: This article is part of the Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children.
    Publisher Note: This article is part of the Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children.×
  • Correspondence to Katie Squires: squir1k@cmich.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray
    Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray×
  • Editor: Ron Gillam
    Editor: Ron Gillam×
Article Information
Clinical Forum: Working Memory in School-Age Children / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 05, 2018
Decoding: It's Not All About the Letters
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2018, Vol. 49, 395-408. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0104
History: Received September 26, 2017 , Revised February 5, 2018 , Accepted April 2, 2018
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2018, Vol. 49, 395-408. doi:10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0104
History: Received September 26, 2017; Revised February 5, 2018; Accepted April 2, 2018
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose Reading requires the ability to decode and comprehend. Impairments in working memory (WM) are often implicated in students who are poor decoders. It is unclear whether this is a domain-specific issue or a task-specific issue. Therefore, this study examined how auditory–verbal (AV) WM, visual–spatial (VS) WM, and cognitive load affected the decoding skills of students identified as poor readers.

Method Twenty-five 2nd-grade and 23 fifth-grade students completed 3 different measures requiring various levels of cognitive demand for each domain of WM, and their decoding skills were assessed with word identification and word attack measures.

Results AV WM measures with moderate and high cognitive demands were correlated with 2nd-grade students' abilities to decode words. AV WM measures also predicted their performance on decoding tasks. For 5th-grade students, the AV WM measure with simple cognitive load was correlated with ability to decode words. The VS WM measures were not correlated with word identification or word attack at either level.

Conclusions This study has implications for training instruction in reading. Because the AV WM measures and not the VS WM measures predicted decoding performance in second graders, a greater emphasis on language-rich reading programs could be beneficial in scaffolding early academic achievement and reading performance.

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