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The use of phonological and orthographic information for memory and spelling : an analysis of reading and spelling subtypes Harrison, Gina Louise

Abstract

The present study was designed to examine differences between subtypes of readers and spellers in their performance on several phonological, orthographic, and memory tasks. A central question involved whether subtypes of readers and spellers could be distinguished based on their performance across the tasks administered. Based on their performance on a standardized achievement test, fourth and fifth grade children (N=50) were classified as having no difficulties with reading and spelling (good readers and spellers), difficulties with spelling, but not reading (mixed readers and spellers), or difficulties with both reading and spelling (poor readers and spellers). Each student was given a series of tasks to assess their use of phonological and orthographic information for memory and spelling. These tasks included: 1) rhyme judgment, 2) cued recall, 3) reading pronounceable pseudowords, 4) deciding which of. two pseudowords looks most like a real word, and 5) reporting on the kinds of strategies used to spell words. An error analysis was also conducted. Students with reading and spelling difficulties performed consistently lower than good and mixed readers and spellers on tasks assessing their use of phonological information. Good and mixed readers and spellers were not distinguishable on these tasks. Students with no reading and spelling difficulties or with spelling difficulties only performed better than poor readers and spellers on some tasks assessing orthographic processing. Specifically, mixed readers and spellers were distinguishable from good readers and spellers by their poorer recall of visually similar words. Good and poor subtypes were not distinguishable on this task. Poor readers and spellers also achieved comparable scores to the good and mixed readers and spellers on a measure of orthographic awareness. Overall results provided evidence supporting subtypes of reading and spelling ability groups. Students with no reading and spelling difficulties, or difficulties with spelling but not reading were similar in their use of phonological information. However, students with reading and spelling difficulties were more similar to the good readers and spellers in their use of orthographic information in memory. The findings from the present study have implications to subsequent research examining spelling ability, provide further evidence of the unique processing characteristics of the paradoxical good reader but poor speller, and suggest the possibility of unique programming needs to remediate spelling difficulties in mixed and poor readers and spellers.

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