Effects of Morphological Awareness on African American
Students’ Literacy Skills
Kenn, Apel, PhD, Shurita Thomas-Tate, PhD, Megan Miskowski, and Jesse Ehren
The Florida State University
• Several linguistic skills contribute to reading, writing, and
spelling development, including phonemic awareness,
orthographic knowledge, and morphological awareness (e.g.,
Apel, Masterson, & Wolter, 2006; Nagy, Berninger, Abbott,
Vaughan, & Vermeulen, 2003; Mahony, Singson, & Mann,
• Morphological awareness may play a larger role in reading
and spelling development in “older” students
• Much of the research on predictors of reading, writing and
spelling has involved students who use a “mainstream”
American dialect (MAE).
• It is unknown whether use of a dialect that differs from the
MAE dialect leads to differences in morphological awareness
• It is unknown whether differences in spoken African
American English (e.g., omission of final consonants,
subject-verb agreement) affects morphological awareness
development and its relationship to reading and spelling.
• The purpose of the study was to investigate the
1.effects of AAE on morphological awareness (MA) abilities.
2.relation of MA to orthographic processing (OP), phonemic
awareness (PA), reading, spelling, and vocabulary tasks
Department of Communication Disorders
A t F l o r i d a S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y
• 25 fourth-grade African American students
• All administered the screening portion of the Diagnostic
Evaluation of Language Evaluation (Seymour, Roeper, &
deVilliers, 2003) to determine the degree of AAE used.
• Group 1: strong variation from MAE (DELV); M age=
• Group 2: some or no variation from MAE; M age = 9.6
• Age difference significant (t=6.67, p<.05)
All participants administered:
•Reading: The Woodcock Reading Mastery Test-Revised
(Woodcock, 1998) to measure word-level reading (Word Attack
and Word Identification) .
•Spelling: The Test of Written Spelling – 4 (Larsen, H