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AppliedPsycholinguistics20(1999),563–588
PrintedintheUnitedStatesofAmerica
Thedevelopmentofphonemic
codingstrategiesforserialrecall
SUSANNITTROUERandMARNIEE.MILLER
BoysTownNationalResearchHospital
ADDRESSFORCORRESPONDENCE
SusanNittrouer,BoysTownNationalResearchHospital,555North30thStreet,Omaha,NE
68131.Email:nittrouer@boystown.org
ABSTRACT
Thisstudyexamineddifferencesbetweenadultsandchildrenandbetweennormalandpoorreaders
intheuseofphonemiccodingstrategiesforstoringwordsinworkingmemory.Inthefirstexperi-
ment,adults,11-year-olds,and8-year-olds(categorizedasnormalorpoorreaders)recalledeight-
itemstringsofrhymingandnonrhymingwords.Adevelopmentaldecreaseinerrorswasobserved
foradults,11-year-olds,andnormal-reading8-year-oldsthatreflectedanimprovementinthephone-
miccodingofitemsinworkingmemory,butnodifferencewasfoundbetweennormal-andpoor-
reading8-year-oldsintheuseofphonemiccodingstrategies.Asecondexperimentwithshorterlists
andmorechildrensupportedthelatterfinding.Theresultswereinterpretedasdemonstratingthat
theabilitytoaccesssyllable-internalphonemicstructureisanecessaryprecursortothedevelopment
ofphonemiccoding strategiesforworkingmemory,but thattheuseofthat structureforstoring
wordsinworkingmemoryisaskillthatdevelopsindependentlyandlaterthantheabilitytoaccess
phonemicstructure.
The comprehensionoflanguage,whetherspokenorwritten,requires thatthe
receiverretainastringofwordsinmemorylongenoughtoperformappropriate
linguistic analyses (most notably, syntactic analysis). Numerous studies have
supportedthe notionthatadults’abilities toretainsufficientlylongstringsof
words in n the orderpresentedderive from m theirabilities toprocess the signal
such that phonological information is extracted and then that informationis
used forstoringwords s in n working memory(e.g., , Baddeley, 1966; ; Baddeley,
Thomson,&Buchanan,1975;Campbell&Dodd,1980;Spoehr&Corin,1978).
Thus,theinputandstorageoflinguisticmaterialsinworkingmemoryusinga
phonological codeis consideredcriticalforfurtherlinguisticprocessing. . Re-
searchon this s topic has frequentlyinvestigated d the serialrecall of linguistic
items.Thatis,stringsoflinguisticitems(suchasdigits,letters,nonsensesylla-
bles,orwords)arepresentedeitherauditorilyorvisually(asprintorpictures),
andparticipantsmustrecalltheitemsintheorderinwhichtheywerepresented.
Whenitems withconfusiblephonologicalstructures (suchasrhymingwords)
areused, moreerrors aremadeacrossalllistpositions thanwhenitems with
phonologically nonconfusible structures s are used d (Baddeley, , 1966;Conrad&
Hull,1964;Salame&Baddeley,1986).Montgomery(1995a)attributedtheben-
Ó1999CambridgeUniversityPress0142-7164/99$9.50
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AppliedPsycholinguistics20:4
564
Nittrouer&Miller:Developmentofphonemiccodingstrategies
efits shown n for phonologicallynonconfusible items to the fact that they are
representedmoredistinctlyinmemory.Thus,whenlinguisticitemscanbeand
are enteredintoworkingmemoryusinga phonologicalcode, theitemsthem-
selves,aswellastheorderoftheitems,arebetterretainedthanwhenaphono-
logicalcodeisnotusedorfailstodistinguishamongitemsverywell.
Thesefindingsleadtothepredictionthatindividualswithphonologicalpro-
cessingproblems(i.e.,problemsaccessingandmanipulatingphonologicalstruc-
ture)wouldfailtoshowanadvantageinserialrecallforphonologicallynoncon-
fusiblematerialsoverphonologicallyconfusiblematerials.
1
Althoughavariety
oftaskscanbeusedtoexaminephonologicalprocessingabilities,individuals
withreadingdisabilitiesdemonstratewell-replicateddifficultiesand/ordevelop-
mentaldelayswithvirtuallyallsuchtasks(Stanovich,Cunningham,&Cramer,
1984; Wagner, , 1986; ; Wagner & & Torgesen, 1987). . As a a result, poor readers
provideanexcellentopportunity fortesting thepredictionoffered abovethat
suchindividualswouldfailtoshowanadvantageinserialrecallforphonologi-
callynonconfusibleitems overphonologicallyconfusibleitems.Infact, some
studieswithchildrenclassifiedaccordingtoreadingabilityhaveprovidedsup-
port for that prediction. Shankweiler, Liberman, Mark, , Fowler, , and Fischer
(1979) compared recall for nonrhyming and rhyming letter strings s by y three
groups of f children near the end of second grade: “superior” readers, , whose
readingabilitieswerenearlyatafifthgrade level;“marginal”readers,whose
readingabilitieswereatamid-secondgradelevel;and“poor”readers,whose
reading abilities s were ata beginning g second grade level. . Letter r strings s were
presentedintwodifferentmanners:visuallyandauditorily.Regardlessofmode
ofpresentation, the e superior readers showed a greater advantage (i.e., , fewer
errors)forthenonrhyminglettersthanfortherhyminglettersthandideitherof
theothergroups.AstatisticallysignificantReadingAbility·Rhymeinteraction
supportedthisconclusion.MannandLiberman(1984)demonstratedessentially
thesameinteractionforwordspresentedauditorilytochildreninkindergarten
andfirstgradewith“good,”“average,”and“poor”word-attackskills.Similarly,
SpringandPerry(1983)foundaninteractionofreadingabilityandrhymefor
picturesofsimplenounspresentedtochildreninthird,fourth,andfifthgrades
whowereclassifiedas“good”or“poor”readers.However,otherstudieshave
failedtoshowaReadingAbility·Rhymeinteractioninserialrecalltasks.For
example,inaseriesoffiveexperiments,Hall,Wilson,Humphreys,Tinzmann,
andBowyer(1983)foundthat“normal”and“poor”readers insecond, third,
andfourthgradesdemonstratedthesamepatternoferrorsacrossrhymingand
nonrhyminglettersandmonosyllabicwords,whetherpresentedvisuallyoraudi-
torily.However,intwoexperimentstheoverallgroupeffectwassignificantor
approachedsignificance,demonstratingthatpoorreadersgenerallymademore
errorsinrecall.Pennington,VanOrden,Smith,Green,andHaith(1990)investi-
gatedserialrecallfornonrhymingandrhymingmonosyllabicwordspresented
auditorilytotwogroupsofadultdyslexics:thosewithafamilyhistoryofdys-
lexia (familial dyslexics) and those without (clinic dyslexics). Each dyslexic
group was s matched d withits s owncontrol group p of same-age, , normal-reading
peers.Comparedtotheirowncontrols,theclinicdyslexicsdemonstratedmore
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AppliedPsycholinguistics20:4
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Nittrouer&Miller:Developmentofphonemiccodingstrategies
recallerrorsoverall;thefamilialdyslexicsdidnot.Ofmostinterest,Pennington
etal.reportednohintofaReadingAbility·Rhymeinteraction.
Intheseexperimentsnoindicationisgivenastothekindoferrorsthatpoor
readerstendedtomake:errorsofitemrecalloroforderrecall.Itemerrorsrefer
tothoseerrorsinwhichtheparticipantcannotrecallwhatitemswerepresented.
With ordererrors, , theparticipantcorrectlyremembers the items buthas the
orderofpresentationwrong.Brady,Shankweiler, andMann(1983)examined
recallofserialorderforauditorilypresentedlistsofnonrhymingandrhyming
words by y thirdgraders s who o wereseparatedintotworeadinggroups:“good”
readers,whosereadingabilitieswereatalmostasixthgradelevel,and“poor”
readers,whosereadingabilitieswereatalatesecondgradelevel.Thepartici-
pantswereaskedtorepeatthewordsintheorderinwhichtheywerepresented.
Brady et al. . foundthat t the poor readers made more errors overall in recall
thanthegoodreaders,buttherewas noReadingAbility·Rhymeinteraction.
However,whentheseauthorsscoredthecorrectnessofresponseswithoutregard
forcorrectnessoforder,theyfoundthattherewasaReadingAbility·Rhyme
interaction. Thisinteractionwastracedtoahigherproportionoftransposition
errorsgivenbypoorreaderstothenonrhymingmaterials(e.g.,trait,planein-
steadoftrain,plate).Inotherwords,thepoorreadersmademoreerrorsinrecall
ofitemspersethaninrecalloforder,comparedtothegoodreaders.Thistrend
suggests thatthepoorreaders hadgreaterdifficulty y storingitemsinworking
memory with a phonological code, , but t it clouds the interpretation that itis
specificallytherecalloforderthatsuffersfromthisdifficulty.
Thequestionofthekindoferrorthatpoorreaderstendtomakeisimportant
becauseitcouldaffectourinterpretationoftherelationbetweenphonological
codingforserialrecallandsentencecomprehension. Individuals withreading
disabilities often n display difficulties s comprehending sentences s with h complex
syntax(e.g.,Byrne,1981;Smith,Mann,&Shankweiler,1986;Stein,Cairns,&
Zurif,1984;Vogel,1975).Thisdifficultyhasbeenattributedbysomeinvestiga-
torspreciselytothepoorphonologicalprocessingabilitiesofpoorreadersrather
thantoasyntacticdeficit.Specifically,thesuggestionconcerningtheproblem
inverbalworkingmemoryofpoorreadersderivesfrommodularviewsoflan-
guage processing. Modularviews hold thatinformation (such as a linguistic
signal)isprocessedinastrictlybottom-upmannerandisencapsulatedsothat
information from m other r systems s cannot influence processing. Ifpoor r readers
have difficulty accessing phonological structure in the stimuli, this difficulty
will create a “bottleneck” that impedes the flowof informationthrough the
module to“higherlevels,” whichpresumablyinclude working memory(Bar-
Shalom,Crain,&Shankweiler,1993;Crain,1989;Crain&Shankweiler,1991;
Crain,Shankweiler,Macaruso,&Bar-Shalom,1990;Mann,Cowin,&Schoen-
heimer, 1989; Smith, Macaruso, , Shankweiler, & Crain, 1989; ; but cf. Byrne,
1981;Steinetal.,1984).Thisinterpretationpredictsbothmoreitemerrors(as
Bradyetal.,1983,observed)andmoreordererrors.However,ordererrorsare
ofmoreinterestwhentryingtorelateserialrecallandsentencecomprehension.
A greaterpreponderance ofordererrors s bypoorreadersneeds tobedemon-
strated ifphonological processing deficits are to beposited as the source of
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AppliedPsycholinguistics20:4
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Nittrouer&Miller:Developmentofphonemiccodingstrategies
observeddifferencesinsentencecomprehensionbetweenpoorandgoodornor-
malreaders. This requirementfollows fromthefactthatinmosttasks testing
sentencecomprehension, as inreal-worldcommunicationsituations, theitems
tobestoredinworkingmemoryareobvious.Commontasksusedtoinvestigate
sentencecomprehensionincludetheobjectmanipulationtask(inwhichpartici-
pantsmanipulatesmallobjectsaccordingtoasentence)andthesentence–pic-
turematchingtask(inwhichparticipants point to o thepicture, , outofseveral,
that correctlydepicts the actioninthe sentence). . Transposition n errors s of f the
kind describedbyBrady etal. . (1983)arecloseto o impossible inthesetasks
becausetheobjectsperformingtheactionsorbeingacteduponareobvious.
Onlyonestudyhasexplicitlyexploredordererrorsinserialrecallbypoor
readers. Katz, , Shankweiler, andLiberman n (1981) used pictures s ofrealitems
andof“doodle” drawings asstimuli, thusconstrainingthesetofitems to be
remembered. Participants sawthepicturespresentedsequentiallyonascreen;
theywereaskedtorecalltheorderofpresentationbyarrangingcardswiththe
same pictures s on them. . The participants s were e second graders s categorized as
“good” or “poor” ” readers, based d on their word d recognition n skills. Results
showedthatchildreninbothgroupsperformedsimilarlyforthedoodles(i.e.,
itemsthatcouldnotbecodedphonologicallyinworkingmemory).Bothgroups
showedanimprovementinorderrecallfortherealitems(i.e.,itemsthatcould
becodedphonologicallyinworkingmemory),butgoodreadersshowedmore
improvementthanpoorreaders.Thus,somesupporthasbeengarneredforthe
suggestionthatpoorreadershavemoredifficultythangoodreadersspecifically
inrecallingtheorderofphonologicallycodableitems.Inturn,thissuggestion
bolsterstheargumentthatpoorreaders’difficulties withsentencecomprehen-
sioncanbeexplainedlargelybyproblemswithusingaphonologicalcodefor
enteringand/orstoringitemsinworkingmemory. However, Katzetal. used
stimulithatcategoricallywereorwerenotcodableasphonologicalsequences,
andbothgroupsshowedanadvantageforthephonologicallycodableitems;it
wasonlythemagnitudeoftheadvantagethatdiffered.Thus,itispossiblethat
bothgroupsusedaphonologicalcodetothesameextent, butthattheuseof
thatcodeprovidedmorebenefitforthegoodreadersthanforthepoorreaders.
Bethatas it may, a studybyMontgomery(1995b)providedsupport forthe
generalsuggestionthatthesentencecomprehensiondifficultiesexperiencedby
poorreaderscanbetracedtoproblemswithusingphonologicalcodesforlin-
guisticprocessing.Inthatstudy, childrenwithspecificlanguage impairments
werefoundtohavemoredifficultythantheirnormal-languagepeersinrepeat-
ing multisyllabic nonsense words, a task that presumably requires s access s to
phonologicalstructureinordertoderivearepresentation.Furthermore,astatisti-
callysignificantcorrelationof.62wasfoundbetweenscoresonthisnonsense
repetitiontaskandthoseonataskofsentencecomprehension.
Theprimarypurposeofthisstudywastoexplorefurthertwofactorsthatmay
affecttheorderrecalloflinguisticmaterials:readingabilityandage.Thecentral
hypothesis to o be tested was that the use ofa a phonological l code for storing
linguisticitemsinworkingmemoryisaskillthatemergesautomaticallywith
thedevelopmentoflowerlevelphonologicalskills(i.e.,theabilitytorecognize
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AppliedPsycholinguistics20:4
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Nittrouer&Miller:Developmentofphonemiccodingstrategies
phonologicalstructureinlinguisticsignals).Thatis,onceachildcanrecognize
thephonologicalstructureofthelinguisticsignalbeingheardorread,theuse
ofthatcodetoenterlinguisticsignalsintoworkingmemorymaybeautomatic.
Analternativehypothesiswas thatthevarious phonological processingskills
observedinmaturelanguageusersdevelop,atleastpartly,independently.That
is,theabilitytousephonologicalstructureforlinguisticpurposescontinuesto
berefinedlongafterachilddemonstratessensitivitytothatstructure.Tomeet
thegoalofthestudy,serialrecallbynormalreadersofthreeagesandbypoor
readersoftheyoungestagewasexamined.
Ofcourse,simplyexploringwhethertheuseofaphonologicalcodingstrategy
inworkingmemoryissomethingthatdevelopswithage(andsowithlanguage
experience) could be considered a sufficient goal initselfbecause only one
studyhasexplicitlycomparedtheuseofphonologicalcodingstrategiesinwork-
ingmemorybyadultsandchildren.Treiman(1995)testedadultsandchildren
of three e ages s (kindergarten, third d grade, and sixth grade) on serialrecall of
nonsensesyllablesandobservedadevelopmentaltrendtogreateraccuracyin
recall.However,themajorityoferrorsobservedforallgroupswereitemerrors,
aswouldbeexpectedfornonsenseitems(Treiman&Danis,1988),andsothe
questionremainsopenastowhetheraccuracyinorderrecallimproveswithage.
Inthecurrentstudy,weensuredthatorderrecall(ratherthanitemrecall)was
investigatedbyusingaclosedsetprocedureinwhichtheparticipantsweretold
theitemsthatwouldmakeupthelistsbeforethetestingbegan.Theitemswere
consonant–vowel–consonantnonrhymingandrhymingnouns,andthelistswere
presentedauditorily.Theparticipantswereaskedtoarrangepicturesdepicting
thenounstomatchtheorderinwhichtheywereheard.Awarenessofphonologi-
calstructurewasalsoevaluatedwithtwoseparatetasks.Thepossibilitythatthe
use ofaphonologicalcodingstrategy forstoring linguistic items inworking
memoryemergesautomaticallyonceanindividualhasaccess tophonological
structurewasexaminedintwoways.First,groupdifferencesinserialrecallof
rhymingandnonrhymingwordswere measuredfornormalandpoorreaders,
who,predictably,demonstratedstronggroupdifferencesinphonologicalaware-
ness. Astronggroupdifferenceshouldbefoundintheeffectrhyminghason
serialrecalliftheabilitytouseaphonologicalcodingstrategyemergesautomat-
icallywithphonologicalawareness.Second,therelationbetweenphonological
awarenessandserialrecallwasexaminedacrossarangeofreadingabilities.A
strongrelationshouldbefoundbetweenthesetwoskillsiftheabilitytousea
phonologicalcodetostorelinguisticitems inworkingmemoryemergesauto-
maticallywithphonologicalawareness.
Onlyoneotherstudyhasexplicitlytriedtoexploretherelationbetweenpho-
nologicalawarenessandserialrecalloflinguisticmaterialsbychildren.Mann
and Liberman(1984)examined the relationbetweenthe ability to count the
numberofsyllables inwords andtheabilitytorecallstringsofrhymingand
nonrhymingwords presented d auditorily by children inkindergartenand first
gradewhowereclassified as“good,”“average,”or“poor”readers,basedon
word-attackskills.APearsonproduct-momentcorrelationcoefficientcalculated
betweenperformanceonsyllablecountingandrecallfornonrhymingwordswas
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AppliedPsycholinguistics20:4
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Nittrouer&Miller:Developmentofphonemiccodingstrategies
.26. This correlationjust t reached statistical significance at the .05 level and
indicates that t phonological awareness s (as s measuredby y the syllable counting
task)explainsabout7%ofthevarianceinrecallfornonrhymingwords.How-
ever,itisthedifferenceinrecallofrhymingandnonrhymingwordsthatindexes
theextenttowhichaphonologicalcodingstrategyisusedforstoringitemsin
workingmemory(i.e.,whatiscommonlytermedthe“rhymingeffect”).More-
over,syllablecountingdoes notevaluate participants’knowledgeofsyllable-
internalstructure, anditis specificallythis knowledgeanditssubsequentuse
forstoringitemsinworkingmemorythatwouldmostexplaintherecalladvan-
tagefornonrhymingitemscommonlyobserved.Inotherwords,whenrhyming
effects areobserved d it presumablymeans s thatthe phonologicalcode used d to
storeitemsinworkingmemoryisactuallyaphonemiccode.Storingitemsusing
asyllabiccodeshoulddolittletoproducearhymingeffect.Evensyllablesthat
rhymeareuniquebecauseofdifferencesatthefirstsyllablemargin.Intheend,
then,theMannandLibermanstudyprovideslittlemeaningfulinsightintothe
relationbetweenattainingaccesstophonologicalstructureandtheabilitytouse
thatstructuretostorelinguisticitemsinworkingmemory.Inthepresentstudy,
thephonologicalawarenesstasksusedwithchildrenexpresslyexaminedsensi-
tivitytosyllable-internal(i.e.,phonemic)structure. Theassumptionwasmade
thatitisspecificallyaphonemiccodingstrategythatwouldprovideanadvan-
tagefortherecallofnonrhymingwordsoverrhymingwords.
Becausethe children participating in this studydifferedinreading ability,
carewastakentominimizeothertaskrequirements.Severalinvestigators(Bar-
Shalometal.,1993;Smithetal.,1989)havesuggestedthattheabilitiesofpoor
readerstoholdlinguisticinformationinworkingmemoryshouldimprovewhen
processingdemandsareminimized.Althoughthespecificprocessingdemands
these investigators s described pertain largelyto semantic and pragmatic con-
straintsonsentencecomprehension,asimilarsuggestioncouldbemadeforthe
recallofstringsofunrelatedwords.Thatis,ifprocessinglimitationsaccountfor
someofthedifferencespreviouslyobservedbetweennormalandpoorreadersin
theiruse ofa phonemic codingstrategyfor serialrecall, anyprocedure that
reduces processing g demands s shouldreduce the disparity y between the perfor-
manceofnormalandpoorreaderssuchthattheperformanceofthepoorreaders
improves.Anyremainingdisparitybetweenthetwogroupswouldrepresenta
truedifference inthe extent towhicha phonemic codingstrategyis used to
storeitemsinworkingmemory.Theproceduresusedinthisstudyweremeant
toreduceprocessingdemandsaswellasothertaskrequirements.Pictureswere
used, andsoparticipants didnot t needtomemorize theitems perse. . Having
participantsarrangepicturesalsomeantthatthistaskwasmorecomplementary
totasks used d in studies s ofsentencecomprehension(i.e., objectmanipulation
andsentence–picturematching)thanverballyrespondingwouldhavebeen.Not
requiringverbalresponseswasalsoconsideredadvantageousbecauseitmeant
thattheparticipantsdidnotneedtoplanproductions.Thus,thepossibilitywas
eliminatedthatthesubtleproductiondifferencessometimesobservedbetween
normalandpoorreaders(e.g.,Brady,Poggie,&Rapala,1989)wouldaccount
forsomeofthedifferencesinorderrecallbetweenthegroups,iffound.
AppliedPsycholinguistics20:4
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Nittrouer&Miller:Developmentofphonemiccodingstrategies
EXPERIMENTI:EIGHT-ITEMLISTS
Forthefirstexperiment,listsofeightwordswereused.Thedecisionwasmade
touselistsofthislengthbecausemanyoftheearlystudiesonserialrecallused
liststhatwereseventonineitemslong(e.g.,Campbell&Dodd,1980;Camp-
bell, Dodd, & Brasher, 1983; Darwin & & Baddeley, , 1974; Spoehr & Corin,
1978).Pilottestingshowedthat8-year-oldswereabletodothistaskwithlists
ofthislength.
METHOD
Participants
Therewerefourgroupsofparticipants:adults,11-year-oldswithnormalreading
abilities,andtwogroupsof8-year-oldchildren,definedaseithernormalorpoor
readers.Allparticipantspassedhearingscreeningsofthefrequenciesof0.5,1.0,
2.0,4.0,and6.0kHzpresentedat25dBHL.The17adultswhoparticipated
werebetweentheagesof20and40years,andnonehadanyhistoryofspeech
orlanguage problems. Allthe adultspassed the readingsubtest ofthe Wide
RangeAchievementTest–Revised(WRAT-R)(Jastak&Wilkinson,1984)with
areadingabilitybetterthantheeleventhgradelevel.
The 1611-year-oldswhoparticipatedhadameanageof11;6andwerein
themiddleofsixthgrade.Nonehadanyhistoryofspeechorlanguageproblems,
andallpassedscreenings forgeneral nonverbalandlanguageabilities. These
childrenwererequiredtoscorenomorethantwostandarddeviationsbelowthe
populationmean onthe blockdesign ofthe WechslerIntelligence Scale for
Children-III(WISC-III)(Wechsler,1991)andonthePeabodyPictureVocabu-
lary Test–Revised (PPVT-R)(Dunn& Dunn, , 1981). . In actuality, means s for
both taskswere 0.67standarddeviationsabovethepopulationmean, , andthe
groupstandarddeviationswereequaltoonepopulationstandarddeviation.All
thechildrenhadscoresonthereadingsubtestoftheWRAT-Rof95orbetter
(M=114,SD=8).
A total of 31 children betweenthe ages of 7;9 and 8;11participated: 20
normal readersand11poorreaders. . Themeanageforbothgroups was 8;3.
The8-year-oldswereeitherclosetofinishingsecondgradeorhadjustdoneso.
Thesechildrenwerecategorizedasnormalorpoorreaders accordingtotheir
scoresonthereadingsubtestoftheWRAT-R.Normalreaderswerethosewith
standardscoresof95orbetter,andpoorreaderswerethosewithstandardscores
of85orpoorer.Specifically,thenormalreadershadameanstandardscoreof
105.7(SD=9.4). Theirreadingabilitieswereequivalenttothosethatare ex-
pectednearthemiddleofthirdgrade,puttingthesechildrenroughlyhalfayear
aheadofexpectationsfortheirchronologicalage.Thepoorreadershadamean
standardscoreof74.2(SD=11.3). Theirreadingabilities wereequivalentto
thosethatareexpectedjustpastthemiddleoffirstgrade.Thus,thepoorreaders’
readingabilitieswerealmosttwoyearsbehindthoseofthenormalreadersand
roughlyayearandahalfbehindexpectationsfortheirchronologicalage.All
AppliedPsycholinguistics20:4
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Nittrouer&Miller:Developmentofphonemiccodingstrategies
the8-year-oldshadnormalspeechproductionabilities,asevaluatedbytheGol-
dman–Fristoe Test of Articulation–Revised (Goldman & & Fristoe, 1986): the
normalreadershadameanpercentilescoreof93(SD=14),andthepoorread-
ers hadameanpercentilescoreof88(SD=17). Allthe8-year-oldswerere-
quiredtoobtainascorebetterthanthe70thstandardscore(i.e.,twostandard
deviationsbelowthemean)onthePPVT-R.Infact,thenormalreaders’mean
standardscorewas99.8(SD=14.6),andthepoorreaders’meanstandardscore
was 93.1 1 (SD=11.6). . The Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM) (Raven,
1975),thechildren’sversionoftheRaven’sProgressiveMatrices,wasusedto
screennonverbalintelligencebecauseithasbeenusedpreviouslyinstudieswith
poorreadersofthisage(e.g.,Pratt&Brady,1988).Thenormalreaders’mean
percentilescorewas78(SD=24),andthepoorreaders’meanpercentilescore
was70(SD=26).Thesedifferencesbetweenthegroups(onthePPVT-Rand
CPM)werenotstatisticallysignificant.
Equipment
Alltestingtookplaceinasound-attenuatedbooth.Hearingwasscreenedwith
aWelchAllynTM262audiometer/tympanometerwithTDH-39earphones.For
thephonologicalawarenesstasks,recordedstimuliwerepresentedwithaNa-
kamichiMR-2audiocassetteplayer,aTascamPA-30Bamplifier,andaRealistic
speaker.Fortheserialrecalltask,stimuliwerestoredonacomputer.Boththe
presentation ofstimuliandthe recordingofresponses s inthis taskwere con-
trolledbyacomputer.ADataTranslation2801Adigital-to-analogconverter,a
FrequencyDevices901Fanalogfilter,aCrownD-75amplifier,andAKG141
headphoneswereusedtopresentthestimulitotheparticipantsinthistask.
Stimuli
Phonemicawareness.
Toevaluatephonemicawarenessforthe11-and8-year-
olds,twotaskswereused,bothdevelopedbyPenningtonandcolleaguesatthe
UniversityofDenver(e.g., Penningtonetal., 1990):aphonemedeletiontask
andapigLatintask.Twophonemicawarenesstaskswereusedbecauseithas
beendemonstratedthatdifferenttasks areneededtodistinguishbetweenindi-
vidualswithgoodandpoorphonemicawarenessatdifferentstagesofdevelop-
ment (Stanovich etal., 1984). . The pigLatin n task is s more difficult than n the
phoneme deletion task because it requires that a segment not simply be re-
moved,butbemovedandrecombinedwithanotherphonemicunit.Becausewe
werenotcertainbeforehandwhichtaskwouldbemostsensitivetothediffer-
encesinphonemicawarenessamongchildrenoftheseages,weusedbothtasks.
The phoneme deletion taskconsisted of nonsensesyllables that become real
wordswhenonesegmentisremoved.Therewere6practiceitemsand32test
itemsonthistask, andthesearelistedinAppendix1.Thestimuliforthepig
Latintaskwererealmonosyllabicanddisyllabicwordsforwhichthechildwas
expectedtoprovidethe pig Latinform. Theone differencebetweenthis pig
Latintaskandthecommonplaygroundvarietyisthatthechildrenwereexplic-
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itlytrainedtomoveonlythefirstsegmentofacluster.Forexample,thecorrect
pigLatinformofstickinthisstudywasticksay.Theversionofthistaskused
byPenningtonandcolleagueshas12practiceitemsand48testitems(listedin
Appendix2).Thisversionwasusedwiththe11-year-olds.The8-year-oldswere
testedononlythefirst30items becausepilotworkshowedthat8-year-olds
madenumerouserrorsonthistaskandcouldbecomevisiblyfrustrated.Thus,
30 items s seemed d toprovidethevariability neededto capturethedifferences
betweennormalandpoorreaderswithoutfrustratinganychild.
Foreachtask, anaudiotape waspreparedthat t provided initialinstructions,
practiceitems,andtestitems.Inthisway,experimentervariables(suchasdif-
ferencesinspeakingstyleorinstructiongiven)thatmightinfluenceresponses
werekepttoaminimum.Foreachpracticeandtestitemonthephonemedele-
tiontask the following phrase was used: “Say [nonsense syllable]; now say
[nonsensesyllable]withoutthe[onesegment].”Forexample,“Saytrisk;now
saytriskwithoutthe/s/. (Thesoundofthesegmentis givenrather r thanthe
lettername.)Forthepracticeandtestitemsonthe pigLatintask,individual
wordswerepresentedinthecarrierphrase“Thenextwordis
.”
Serialrecall.
Twosetsofstimuliwerepreparedtotesttheserialrecalloflin-
guisticmaterials,onewithnonrhymingwordsandonewithrhymingwords.All
stimuliwereconsonant–vowel–consonantnounsofwhichpicturescouldeasily
be prepared. The nonrhymingstimuli consistedofthe words teen, ball, coat,
pack,dog,ham,rake,andseed.Therhymingstimuliweremat,bat,gnat,cat,
hat,rat,vat,andPat(Patwasaboy).Threetokensofeachword,spokenbya
man,weredigitizedata10-kHzsamplingrate.Tokensofeachwordwerese-
lected so that the eight words usedmatched each other closely in terms s of
fundamentalfrequency,amplitude,andduration.Inadditiontothesetestitems,
samplesofsixteenletterswereprepared:eightwerenonrhyming(K,S,R,Q,Y,
F,L,H),andeightwererhyming(G,D,Z,C,B,T,P,V).Hand-drawnpictures
(2†·2†)werepreparedtorepresenteachwordandeachletter.
Procedures
The screening procedures were always administered first. The items for the
phonemicawarenesstaskswerepresentedviaaloudspeaker,calibratedtopres-
enttheitemsatapeakintensityof68dBSPLmeasuredattheplacewherethe
participantssat. Theexperimentersatacrossthetablefromtheparticipantfor
thephonemicawarenesstasks.Helpand/orfeedbackwasprovidedonpractice
items only. Onbothphonemic awareness tasks, testingwas stoppedaftersix
consecutiveerrors.Thenumbersofcorrectitemsoneachofthetwotaskswere
usedinfurtheranalysis.
Itemsfortheserialrecalltaskwerepresentedviaheadphones, calibratedto
presentitemsatapeakintensityof68dBSPL.Theexperimentersattotheside
oftheparticipantfortheserialrecalltask.Halftheparticipantsineachgroup
heard the nonrhyming lists first, and halfheard the e rhyming g lists first. The
computerprogramthatpresentedstimulirandomizedtheorderofpresentation
ofstimuliseparatelyforeachpresentation.The experimenterintroducedeach
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letterintheletterlisttobeusedforpractice(eithernonrhymingorrhyming)
oneatatimeandsaidtheletternameasitwasintroduced.Eachlettercardwas
placedonthetablefacingtheexperimenter.Afterallthelettercardswereplaced
onthetable,theexperimenterdemonstratedhowtodothetaskonce.Thatis,the
experimenterandparticipantheardonelistofletters,andthentheexperimenter
arrangedthelettercardssothattheywereintheorderpresented.Severalaspects
oftheprocedurewereemphasized:theparticipant’shandshadtoremainoffthe
tableuntilalllistitemswereheard,andtherecouldbenovocalizationuntilthe
participantwas finishedarrangingthepictures inthe orderremembered. The
firstinstructionwasgiventopreventthechildrenfrom puttingafingeronor
nearthefirstitemheard,astrategyseveralchildrentriedtoinvokeduringpilot
testing. The secondinstructionwas given n to preclude overt rehearsal. . It t also
servedtospeedupresponding,whichpresumablywouldhaveminimizedcovert
rehearsal.Theparticipantwasthenprovidedwithfourpracticelists.Correction
wasprovidediftheparticipanthaddifficultywiththepicturearrangingproce-
dureitself,butcorrectorderingoftheletterswasnotrequiredduringpractice.
Testingoccurrednext.Beforetestingwitheithertherhymingornonrhyming
list,eachpicturewaslaiddowninfrontoftheparticipantinturn,andthelabel
was said d bythe experimenter. When all eight pictures s were e in n front of the
participant,theexperimenteraskedtheparticipanttonameeachpicture.Inmost
cases,theparticipantscoulddothiseasily.However,ifaparticipantmisnamed
oneofthepictures,theexperimenterprovidedthecorrectnameandagainasked
theparticipanttonameeachpicture.Testingwiththetenliststhentookplace.
Theexperimenterlistenedtothepresentationofthepracticelistsandthenre-
movedtheheadphonessothattheorderofthewordspresentedduringtesting
wasnotknowntoher.Theexperimenterwrotedowntheorderofthepictures
afterthechildarrangedthem,usingthefirstletterofeachwordonly(tosave
time).Theselistswerethencomparedtothelistsofwordordersactuallypre-
sented, whichweregeneratedby y theprogram m anewforeachparticipant.The
numberoferrorsforeachlistposition(outofatotalof10)wascomputed.
Adults.
Thescreeningandserialrecalltaskswereeachpresentedinthesame
session.Nothingelsewasexpectedoftheadults.
11-year-olds.
Becausecorrelationsweretobecomputedbetweenthe8-year-
olds’scoresonthephonemicawarenessandserialrecalltasks,itwasnecessary
toevaluatethereliabilityofthesetasks.The11-year-oldsprovidedthedatafor
thesemeasuresofreliability.Theywereselectedtoprovidethedataforreliabil-
itymeasuresbecausethetaskswereeasierforthemthanforthe8-year-oldsand
yettheywerechildren.Ifadultsonlyhadprovidedthedataforthereliability
measures,thegeneralizabilityofthosemeasurestochildrenwouldbesuspect.
Whilethe 8-year-olds were ableandwillingtodobothtasks, thetaskswere
slightlyeasierforthe11-year-olds. Concernforthe use ofyoungchildrenin
researchsuggestedthatonlythedatanecessarytomeetthegoalsofthestudy
becollectedfromthem.Forthephonemicawarenesstasks,scoresforoddand
evenitems were compared. For r the serial recall task, the 11-year-olds s were
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