Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vocabulary and Morphology [Word Roots]


Question: Can students identify meanings of unfamiliar words because of their roots?

Answer: 88 fifth-grade students and 74 eight-grade students. Suggests that student can use morphological analysis to infer word meanings. Sample item: The verbose teacher made us late for recess: a. disorganized b. talkative* c. stern. *= correct choice.

Comment: IF the students pause long enough to analyze the unfamiliar word, they can apparently use the word root to infer the meaning of the word when three possible meanings are given. I’m not sure how helpful this finding is. A test in which the sentences are presented in isolation and not in a running text is not the same thing as reading normal pages in which students might pass over the unfamiliar word. Still, if students are taught to try to unlock the unfamiliar word when reading, they might do so. That’s what this finding would mean to me: teach the students to analyze an unfamiliar word, looking for a clue in the word’s root. RayS.

Title: “Inside Incidental Word Learning: Children’s Strategic Use of Morphological Information to Infer Word Meanings.” D McCutchen and B Logan. Reading Research Quarterly (October/ November/ December, 2011), pp. 334-349.

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