The effects of word characteristics on children's reading

Keating, Geraldine Corriene (1987) The effects of word characteristics on children's reading. Doctoral thesis, City of London Polytechnic.


The object of the research reported in this thesis was to investigate the effects of word characteristics on children's reading performance.

The experiments investigating word imagery and age of acquisition showed that imagery was a highly significant word characteristic for less skilled readers. There was an age of acquisition effect which was inversely correlated with reading ability.

Probabilistic measures of orthographic regularity (such as Initial Bigram Frequency and Versatility and First Order approximation to English) were shown to be significant predictors of reading for good and poor readers and lexical decision performance for average readers. It also appeared that as reading ability improved, word properties such as the Orthographic Neighbour Ratio, which takes into account neighourhood size and frequency affected reading accuracy in the good and average reader in the lexical decision task.

Other measures of orthographic regularity-orthographic neighbourhood size and body type were also shown to affect reading accuracy although effects appeared less marked for skilled readers. The regularity effect was seen to be dependent upon hostility and frequency of word neighbours, and the frequency of the target word itself, rather than due to a regularity-irregularity dichotomy.

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