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ERIC Number: ED548430
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 175
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2674-0765-8
Words That Move: The Importance of Struggling Readers' Understanding of Polysemy for Reading Development and Intervention
Barzillai, Mirit Tamar
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Tufts University
Children's evolving understanding of polysemy represents a unique aspect of semantic knowledge that is rarely addressed in reading theory or intervention. The ubiquity of words with multiple meanings in written language, however, underscores its importance for the development of fluent reading and comprehension. Early struggling readers' difficulties in both decoding and processing text may make them particularly vulnerable to deficits in this semantic capacity, which further compromises their already impaired reading skills. The relative lack of research into readers' development of this metalinguistic insight and its place within intervention, mean that such weaknesses in children are frequently overlooked and unaddressed. The aim of the present dissertation is thus to investigate early impaired readers' understanding of polysemy through an exploration of its growth, underlying skills, and contribution to reading fluency and comprehension. The investigation will further evaluate the success of a multi-componential intervention in addressing this aspect of semantic knowledge. Towards these goals, a cross-sectional investigation was first undertaken to compare the ability of six-, seven-, eight-, and nine-year old struggling readers to detect and describe a word's multiple meanings. A series of regression analyses were then run to evaluate the semantic and cognitive skills that underlie this capacity and its prediction of reading at the single and connected-text levels. Finally, hierarchical linear modeling techniques were used to examine the efficacy of a multi-componential program in instructing struggling second and third graders to appreciate the polysemous nature of words. Results indicated both growth and significant weaknesses in early struggling readers' understanding of polysemy. Findings further revealed that this capacity was a significant predictor of word reading and comprehension and was itself predicted by semantic knowledge, word retrieval, and cognitive flexibility. Finally, intervention results demonstrated the efficacy of a multi-componential program (RAVE-O) in fostering rich semantic knowledge and a flexible approach to words. Effects were sustained a year after the program's end and generalized to words outside the intervention. Findings illumine the significance of this understudied aspect of semantic knowledge within the reading process and demonstrate its amenability to intervention. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Grade 2; Primary Education; Elementary Education; Early Childhood Education; Grade 3
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A