Purpose: Morphological awareness refers to the ability to consider and manipulate consciously the smallest units of meaning in language. In previous studies investigating students' morphological awareness, no consistent task has been used to measure this skill across grade levels and comparisons among studies have been based on tasks, which measured different aspects of morphological awareness. The overall purpose of our study was to address some of these shortcomings in the literature.
Method: We investigated whether 156 kindergarten, first, and second grade students from low socioeconomic homes would perform differently by grade on four tasks we created to assess different aspects of morphological awareness. We also sought to determine whether the different tasks uniquely predicted reading abilities above phonological awareness at each of the three grade levels.
Results: We found that two tasks, one that required students to consider the meaning relations between morphologically related words, and one that required students to identify written affixes within a timed task, differentiated students across grades. Further, although different tasks predicted real word and pseudoword reading and reading comprehension at different grade levels, the former task, with its focus on meaning relations, most frequently related to and predicted the students' reading skills across the three grades.
Conclusion: Our results provide guidance about tasks that are suitable for young children from high poverty homes when assessing their morphological awareness abilities and provide direction for clinicians and future researchers when deciding how to assess morphological awareness within early elementary students.