Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5241-4462

Date of Award

12-16-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Lee Branum-Martin

Second Advisor

Robin Morris

Third Advisor

Daphne Greenberg

Fourth Advisor

Elizabeth Tighe

Fifth Advisor

Audrey Leroux

Abstract

Oral language and reading comprehension are typically considered as two separate constructs in most studies, however, there is no strong evidence for this separation using a measurement model. Results from cognitive psychology suggest that reading or text-based skills represent facets of a more general, overall ability of language proficiency. A general language proficiency may make measures of oral language and reading comprehension appear less distinct than may be typically assumed. Such cognitive overlap can be empirically tested using confirmatory factor models. Using secondary data analyses, this study examined the extent to which oral language and reading comprehension measures represent two distinct constructs by reanalyzing 44 summary data sets reported in 25 published journal articles and three dissertations, representing a total of 12,367 participants. First, we fit and compared the unidimensional and two-dimensional models. The results show that the one-dimensional model fit well in 11 out of 44 data sets and the two-dimensional model fit better than the one-dimensional model in 33 data sets, however, the discriminant validity between the two latent constructs was relatively low across most data sets. These results suggest that psychometrically, it is difficult to separate oral language from reading comprehension. Second, we fit a bi-factor model for each data set with a general language factor and a specific factor of oral language or reading comprehension. The results show a strong general language factor and much weaker specific factors among school-age students, implying that the language structure might be better represented as a bi-factor model among these students. However, the general language factor was weak in most adult samples. In addition, these results suggest that the relation between oral language and reading comprehension was weaker among participants with low reading ability, and weaker in English second language learners, especially for adults.

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