Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology and Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Susan R. Easterbrooks

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathryn Heller

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicole Patton-Terry

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Judith Emerson


Students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) have delayed morphographic knowledge (Gaustad, Kelly, Payne, & Lylak, 2002) that negatively affects their morphographic analysis (Gaustad & Kelly, 2004) and decoding abilities (Carlisle, 2000). According to the lexical quality hypothesis, proficient readers must decode in orthographic chunks or morphographs to allow for higher quality lexical retrieval (Perfetti, 2002). Morphographic analysis instruction may improve DHH students’ morphographic knowledge delay (Nunes, Burman, Evans, & Bell, 2010). Spelling through Morphograhs (Dixon & Engelmann, 2007) is a Direct Instruction curriculum that teaches morphographic analysis and affixes meanings through scripted lessons and planned practice. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of morphographic instruction modeled after Spelling through Morphographs (Dixon & Engelmann, 2007) on the morphographic analysis skills of reading-delayed DHH students attending fourth through eighth grade. The research question was: What effect does morphographic instruction have on the morphographic analysis skills of DHH students with a second to fourth grade reading level? The study included three student participants and one teacher participant from a local school district. The researcher used a multi-probe multiple baseline across participants design followed by visual analysis of the data to determine the effects of morphographic instruction on the student participants’ morphographic knowledge. The intervention improved DHH students’ ability to dissect words and determine affix meanings, which may in turn positively affect their decoding abilities. Implications of this study and future research are discussed.