The role of phonological memory, word recognition, and comprehension skills in reading development: from preschool to grade 2

Dufva, Mia; Niemi, Pekka; Voeten, Marinus J.M.
March 2001
Reading & Writing;Mar2001, Vol. 14 Issue 1/2, p91
Academic Journal
We examined the relationships among phonological awareness, phonological memory, and development of reading skills in a longitudinal study, by following 222 Finnish preschoolers through the grade 2. The main focus was on the role of phonological memory in word recognition and comprehension. The skills assessed were verbal abilities, phonological memory, phonological awareness, word recognition, listening and reading comprehension, altogether comprising the most extensive set of variables so far used in the study of phonological memory and reading. We proposed a structural equation model for the developmental relationships among the variables. This model was largely confirmed by the data. The most significant predictor of word recognition was phonological awareness. Phonological memory had only a weak effect on phonological awareness at preschool age, and via this connection, a weak indirect effect on grade 1 word recognition. Contrary to expectations, phonological memory also had a significant, albeit weak effect on grade 2 word recognition. Phonological memory did not directly affect reading comprehension. However, it was strongly related to listening comprehension at preschool, and via the strong effects of both listening comprehension and word recognition on reading comprehension, there were significant indirect effects of phonological memory on reading comprehension. The results also underline the stability of development of phonological memory, word recognition, and comprehension from preschool to the end of grade 2.


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