Exploring the predictive roles of morphology, phonology and prosody on multisyllabic word reading and spelling in children

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


The primary aim of this study was to assess what the predictive roles of phonological, morphological and prosodic awareness are and these unique contributions to multisyllabic word reading and spelling within children. Multisyllabic words make up 90% of the English language (Baayen, Piepenbrock, & Gulikers, 1995), and research is generally underrepresented for this with a main focus on the acquisition of monosyllabic words. Despite children being exposed to a dramatically increasing amount of new multisyllabic words a year from 5th grade (Hiebert, Martin, & Menon, 2005). Based on a study by Holliman, Mundy, Wade-Woolley, Wood and Bird (2017) we conducted a study seeking to assess the significant contributions of these aspects when including a mass battery of known reading and spelling control variables. The results demonstrated that morphological (β = -.476, p < .001) and prosodic (β = .174, p < .05) awareness respectively contributed a unique significant contribution to multisyllabic word reading abilities within children when controlling for age, IQ, vocabulary and short-term memory. However, phonological awareness was not a unique significant contributor in this model (β = .187, p= .11). Whilst morphological (β = .256, p = .05) and phonological (β = .322, p < .01) awareness demonstrates a significant contribution towards multisyllabic word spelling abilities within children when controlling for these same variables. However, prosodic awareness was not significant for this (β = .089, p = .311). This is important as it further supports the relationship between prosodic and morphological awareness for multisyllabic word reading which in isolation is very under-researched, whilst also being the first to shed light upon the relationship between morphological, phonological and prosodic awareness to the spelling of multisyllabic words in children. These findings can have important applications for reading and spelling acquisition for multisyllabic words. Holding implications for the instruction of literacy acquisition of 90% of words within the English language.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorJulia Carroll (Supervisor)

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