Research corner

10th April 2015 at 01:00

`Individual Differences in the Effect of OrthographicPhonological Conflict on Rhyme and Spelling Decisions' by Welcome, S E, and Alton, A C

Plos One, March 2015


A typical reader is able to make connections between phonology (how a word sounds) and orthography (how it is spelled). This study uses visual rhyme and spelling tasks to investigate the interaction of orthographic and phonological information in adults with varying levels of reading skill.

The research focuses on adult participants - 43 university students - to measure the effects of phonological and orthographical conflict on fully developed readers. Researchers tested each student's rhyme and spelling abilities through visual word pairings. Some differed in both orthography and phonology (tiecrow), while others shared orthography (farm warm) or phonology (voteboat).

For rhyme judgements, participants were slower and less accurate to accept rhyming pairs when words were spelled differently and to reject non-rhyming pairs when words were spelled similarly. Likewise, for spelling judgements, participants were slower and less accurate at indicating that word-endings were spelled differently when words rhymed, and slower and less accurate at indicating that words were spelled similarly when words did not rhyme.

The study concludes that poor readers may either be using markedly different reading strategies or differ in the degree to which they automatically access word-form information.

"Understanding this variability is important for understanding the reading process more broadly," it states.

Will Martin

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