Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Christine Brennan

Abstract

Phonological awareness (PA) influences the development of reading skill for children learning to read alphabetic orthographies, but less is known about the role of phonological awareness in reading skill in adults. One critical issue readers face is management of granularity, or the scale of the mappings between graphemes and phonemes. Management of granularity involves learning how to map between word segments that may have mismatched grain sizes. In this case, grain size refers to the number of phonemes in a word (i.e., the current study considers one to two phonemes as small grain units and three to four phonemes as large grain units). When grain size is mismatched (e.g., the single grapheme “x” maps to two phonemes / ks / and the biograph “sh” maps to the single phoneme / ʃ /). The current study directly tested phonological awareness skill in adults using a novel phonological awareness task that manipulates grain size and lexicality in order to determine if (1) accuracy on this task differs for adults with dyslexia (i.e., compensated), (2) if the pattern of skill differs between groups, and (3) if accuracy for any of the grain size and/or lexicality conditions correlates with reading skill. Participants included adults with compensated dyslexia and adults without dyslexia (control group). While no statistical differences between groups were found on the individual phonological awareness matching task conditions, an interaction between lexicality and grain size was found for only the group with compensated dyslexia. Second, the adults with compensated dyslexia did show significant correlations between reading skill and task performance. Finally, the adults with compensated dyslexia also showed a significant positive correlation between reading skill and GPA, whereas this relationship was not significantly correlated for the adults without dyslexia. Future research should explore if use of a phonological awareness matching task that manipulates grain size can be effective at improving the phonological skills which support reading ability and in turn, promote improved reading overall.

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