Morphological Knowledge Assessment Features and their Relations to Reading: A Meta-Analytic Structural Equation Modeling Study
Morphemes are the smallest meaningful unit of language (e.g., affixes, root words, base words) that express grammatical and semantic information. Theoretical models of reading suggest that morphological knowledge is multidimensional in its support of literacy skills (Levesque et al., 2020). However, few studies have used large morphological assessment batteries to investigate the differential effects of various morphological knowledge dimensions (i.e., assessment features, such as oral versus written and context clues versus no context clues) to reading outcomes. The current study used systematic review, meta-analytic structural equation modeling (MASEM), and univariate meta-analysis techniques to elucidate whether 1) previous studies containing morphology and reading assessments have used more than one morphological task feature/dimension 2) various morphological task features differentially predict word reading and reading comprehension skills 3) the relations between different morphological assessments to reading comprehension vary by age (younger children, older children, adults) and reading ability (individuals who either do or do not struggle with reading). Results from the systematic review revealed that few studies used multiple morphological knowledge dimensions/task features. MASEM results suggested that morphology tasks differentially predicted reading outcomes. In particular, tasks requiring literacy skills (e.g., spelling, decoding) were more uniquely predictive of reading outcomes than tasks that did not demand literacy skills. Univariate meta-analysis results suggested that the relation of morphological knowledge to reading comprehension was moderated by processing tasks in the group of adult readers who struggled with reading. Specifically, the relation between morphological processing tasks and reading comprehension was weaker than the relation between awareness tasks and reading comprehension The results of this study have implications for future correlational studies as well as intervention studies that aim to enhance morphological knowledge to improve reading outcomes.