Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robin Morris, PhD

Second Advisor

Rose Sevcik, PhD

Third Advisor

Lee Branum-Martin, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Vonetta Dotson, PhD


Verbal learning and memory abilities support development of core language and academic skills, particularly reading (e.g., Kibby, 2009; Perez, Majerus, & Poncelet, 2012; Pham & Hasson, 2014; Roch, Florit, & Levorato, 2012). The California Verbal Learning Test, Children’s Version (CVLT-C) is one of the most commonly used measures of verbal learning and memory among children (Delis, Kramer, Kaplan, & Ober, 1994). The CVLT-C’s internal latent structure has been confirmed in the standardization sample and in many clinical groups (e.g., Carlew et al., 2018; Dejong & Donders, 2009; Griffiths et al., 2006), but remains unexamined among children with Developmental Dyslexia (DD). This is despite a well-documented pattern of verbal learning and memory deficits in this population (Kramer, Knee, & Delis, 2000; Oyler, Obrzut, & Asbjornsen, 2012). This study investigated the internal structure of the CVLT-C in a sample of elementary school children with DD using confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses (CFA and EFA). It also explored the relationship between verbal learning and memory abilities and functional reading outcomes in these children with DD. Results did not confirm previously proposed models of CVLT-C factor structure. While EFA did not reveal an adequate alternative model, discrepancies between the best-fitting 3-factor model from the EFA and the previously proposed models provide insights into potential differences in verbal learning and memory strategies and performance patterns within this population. Correlational analyses highlighted a significant relationship between verbal learning and memory performance on the CVLT-C and passage comprehension, while word reading accuracy was not related. Present findings underscore the importance of understanding the internal structure of the CVLT-C within this vulnerable population. This is particularly important given the functional implications for interpreting the CVLT-C results and understanding the academic impacts of a child’s verbal learning and memory profile.


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