Performance in Morphological Awareness: Children with Language Learning Disabilities versus Typical Language
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Purpose: Currently, assessment methods used to identify strengths or weaknesses in morphological awareness—a skill necessary for academic success—vary widely in style and manner of administration. Only one norm-referenced test includes subtests targeting morphological awareness. The purpose of the present study was to determine the utility of a written probe in the assessment of morphological awareness in third grade children. Method: Using a convenience sample of 60 third grade students, the present study compared student performance on two morphological awareness tasks: an experimental written spelling probe and an adapted form of a more widely used oral dynamic assessment. Students were classified into two groups: those with typical language (TL) and articulation disorders (AD) versus those with language learning disabilities (LLD) and those who qualified for Response to Intervention (RtI). A mixed method design was utilized to address the performance of the two groups on the different measures on different levels. First, student scores were quantitatively measured to compare overall performance; this was followed by a qualitative analysis of student responses on the written spelling probe, allowing the researchers to identify error patterns among the two groups. Results: Students with LLD and those in RtI scored significantly lower than their peers on both the oral and written probe. Results indicated a statistically insignificant negative weak correlation between the tasks for students with TL and AD; a statistically significant strong positive correlation was calculated for students with LLD and enrolled in RTI. Conclusion: Because of the strong positive correlation in performance on the two tasks for students with LLD and those in RtI, assessment in either modality for that population would appear to identify weaknesses in morphology. Error patterns appear similar among both groups but have some implications for our intervention practices for morphological awareness.