An examination of prosodic awareness and reading achievement across Grades 3 to 6: A focus on English Monolinguals and Chinese-English Bilingual Children

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Authors
Chan, Jessica
Keyword
Prosodic Awareness , MorphologicalAawareness , Word Reading , Reading Comprehension
Abstract
This dissertation comprises two studies that examine predictors of children’s reading. In Study 1, I investigated the unique contributions of prosodic awareness and morphological awareness to word reading and reading comprehension in English-only children (n=110) across Grades 4 and 5. Prosodic awareness and morphological awareness were unique predictors of word reading, and morphological awareness was the only predictor of word reading that also explained individual differences in reading comprehension. The relationship between prosodic awareness and word reading was partially mediated by phonemic awareness and morphological awareness, and the relationship between prosodic awareness and reading comprehension was fully mediated by morphological awareness and word reading. In Study 2, I examined prosodic awareness and morphological awareness among a comprehensive set of predictors in English-only (n=90) and Chinese-English bilingual (n=128) children between Grades 3 to 6. I provide evidence illustrating that prosody represents a separate dimension of phonology. Prosody explained unique variance in word reading after accounting for segmental phonological awareness in both language groups, but these effects did not remain after accounting for morphological awareness and orthographic awareness in the model. The path analyses revealed indirect effects of prosody on word reading through morphological awareness in the English-only group, and indirect effects of prosody on word reading through morphological awareness and segmental phonology in the Chinese-English bilingual group. To conclude, prosody was a contributor to word reading processes, and morphology had unique effects on word reading and reading comprehension processes. Prosody represents a broad construct, which I have focused my examination on word-level prosodic awareness in relation to reading outcomes. Across the three samples of children across Grades 3 to 6, prosody was a significant correlate with reading outcomes and established predictors including vocabulary, segmental phonological awareness, and morphological awareness. I extended this investigation of prosody to a second language group and provided insight into the relative contributions of these predictors within a comprehensive and complex model of word reading. To conclude, prosody may play a supportive role in the reading network, but it is a distinct construct that should be considered seriously in theoretical models of reading.
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