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153
TABLE 1 
Basic study features
Instructional
characteristics
Study
Reference
Language
Duration
Instructional
group
size;
instructor
Isolated
or
integrated
instruction
Grades
N
Ability
level
1
Abbott
and
Berninger
(1999)
English
Total
time:
400
min;
16
25-min
sessions;
1
session
per
week
Individual
tutoring;
researcher
instructor
Integrated
4,
5,
6,
7
20
LA
2
Arnbak
and
Elbro
(2000)Danish
Total
time:
540
min;
36
15-min
sessions
Small
group
(3–4);
regular
remedial
teacher
Isolated
4,
5
60
LA
3
Baumann,
Edwards,
Boland,
Olejnik,
and
Kame’enui
(2003)
English
Total
time:
450
min;
30
45-min
sessions
Large
group
(classroom);
regular
classroom
teacher
Integrated
5
157UD
4
Baumann
et
al.
(2002)
English
Total
time:
600
min;
12
50-min
sessions;
Large
group
(classroom);
researcher
instructor
Integrated
5
88
UD
5
Berninger
et
al.
(2003)
English
Total
time:
1,680
min
(700
min
of
morphology
or
orthographic
instruction);
2-hr
sessions
on;
14
consecutive
weekdays
Groups
of
10
(with
main
teacher
and
2
assistants);
teachers
trained
by
researchers
Integrated
4,
5,
6
20
LA
6
Berninger
et
al.
(2008)
English
Total
time:
1,680
min
(840
min
of
morphology
or
orthographic
instruction);
14
2-hr
sessions
over
3
weeks
Groups
of
10
(with
main
teacher
and
2
assistants);
teachers
trained
by
researchers
Integrated
4,
5,
6,
7,
9
39LA
7
Bowers
and
Kirby
(2006)
English
Total
time:
1,000
min;
20
50-min
lessons
(3–4
sessions
a
week)
Large
group
(classroom);
researcher
instructor
Isolated
4,
5
82UD
8
Bowers
and
Kirby
(in
press)
English
Total
time:
1,000
min;
20
50-min
lessons
(3–4
sessions
a
week)
Large
group
(classroom);
researcher
instructor
Isolated
4,
5
82UD
(continued)
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154
Instructional
characteristics
Study
Reference
Language
Duration
Instructional
group
size;
instructor
Isolated
or
integrated
instruction
Grades
N
Ability
level
9
Henry
(1989)
English
Total
time:
Group
1:
1,000
min;
Group
2:
2,000
min;
20
40-min
sessions
Large
group
(classroom);
classroom
teacher
Integrated
3,
4,
5
443UD
10
Hurry
et
al.
(2005)
Study
1
English
Total
time:
NR;
7
sessions,
1
per
week
Large
group
(classroom);
classroom
teacher
Isolated
3,
4,
5,
6
686UD
11
Hurry
et
al.
(2005)
Study
2
English
Total
time:
NR;
13
sessions
1
per
week
Large
group
(classroom);
classroom
teacher
Isolated
4
68UD
12
Kirk
and
Gillon
(2009)
English
Total
time:
870
min
(approx.);
1
individual
and
1
group
session
per
week;
range
of
16
to
20
sessions
Half
individual
and
half
small
group
sessions;
researcher
instructor
Integrated
ages
8–11
years
16LA
13
Lyster
(1998)
NorwegianTotal
time:
510
min;
30
min
sessions
1
per
week;
17
sessions
NR
Isolated
preschool225UD
14
Lyster
(2002)
NorwegianTotal
time:
510
min;
30
min
sessions
1
per
week;
17
sessions
NR
Isolated
preschool225UD
15
Nunes,
Bryant,
and
Olsson
(2003)
English
Total
time:
360
min;
12
30-min
sessions
over
12
weeks
Small
group
(4–8);
researcher
instructor
Isolated
3,
4
457UD
16
Parel
(2006)
English
Total
time:
NR;
8
classes
over
consecutive
school
days
Large
group
(classroom);
instructor:
NR
Isolated
3
77UD
17
Robinson
and
Hesse
(1981)
English
140
lessons
over
a
full
school
yearLarge
group
(classroom);
instructor:
NR
Isolated
7
172LA
and
UD
TABLE 1 
(continued)
(continued)
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155
Instructional
characteristics
Study
Reference
Language
Duration
Instructional
group
size;
instructor
Isolated
or
integrated
instruction
Grades
N
Ability
level
18
Tomesen
and
Aarnoutse
(1998)
Dutch
Total
time:
540
min;
2
45-min
sessions
per
week;
over
6
weeks
Group:
NR;
researcher
instructor
Integrated
4
31LA
and
UD
19
Tyler
,
Lewis,
Haskill,
and
Tolbert
(2003)
Study
1
English
Total
time:
900
min;
2
sessions
per
week
(1
30
min
and
1
45
min);
over
12
weeks
Small
group
(2
or
3);
researcher
instructor
Alternative
treatments:
isolated
and
integrated
preschool27LA
20
Tyler
et
al.
(2003)
Study
2
English
Total
time:
1,800
min;
2
sessions
per
week
(1
30
min
and
1
45
min);
over
24
weeks
Small
group
(2
or
3);
researcher
instructor
Integrated
preschool27LA
21
Vadasy
,
Sanders,
and
Peyton
(2006)
English
Total
time:
2,400
min;
4
30-min
sessions
per
week;
over
20
weeks
Small
group;
community
tutors
(researcher
trained)
Integrated
2
31LA
22
Vadasy
et
al.
(2006)
English
Total
time:
2,160
min;
schedule:
NR
Small
group;
community
tutors
(researcher
trained)
Integrated
2,
3
21LA
TABLE 1 
(continued)
Note.
LA
=
less
able
students;
UD
=
undifferentiated
students;
NR
=
not
reported.
Studies
7
and
8
are
based
on
the
same
intervention
and
sample.
Studies
13
and
14
are
based
on
the
same
intervention
and
sample.
Study
13
reported
outcome
measures
at
the
end
of
Grade
1
of
children
taught
before
school
entrance,
whereas
Study
14
measured
a
subgroup
of
those
students
in
Grades
2
and
3.
Study
11
was
a
substudy
(
n
=
68)
of
participants
in
Study
10
(
n
=
686).
Studies
19
and
20
investigated
students
at
two
different
times
of
an
intervention.
Studies
21
and
22
were
from
the
same
published
article
but
reported
on
separate
intervention
students.
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Bowers et al.
156
omitted from the instruction completely, but rather that it was not a substantial 
focus of instruction for that study. For example, the instruction in all of the studies 
in our sample targeted affixes, but 8 of the 21 studies targeted bases or stems. The 
nature of affixes is that they attach to bases and stems, so studies that chose to 
focus on instruction about affixes (e.g., Baumann et al., 2002; Baumann et al., 
2003) also addressed bases during instruction, but our table reflects the fact that 
the main target of instruction for those studies was affixes.
The information in Table 2 is provided for descriptive purposes. We did not 
attempt to quantitatively compare the effectiveness of the various instructional 
characteristics because they were not systematically varied and because character-
istics may interact with each other in complex ways. We provide the descriptive 
information to clarify the nature of existing research and as a guide for those 
designing future studies. Some instructional categories require further clarifica-
tion. We distinguished between studies in which instruction merely drew attention 
to bases or stems and those in which instruction targeted the meaning of bases or 
stems. Drawing attention to the meaning of a base or stem was often the focus of 
instruction that helped students identify the base or stem of words, but this was not 
always the case. For example, Robinson and Hesse (1981) used tasks that had 
students identify the base or stem in complex words, but their focus was spelling 
rather than meaning.
The “morphological tasks” heading in Table 2 identifies specific types of tasks 
in which participants engaged. All studies used morphological analysis tasks in 
which  participants identified morphemes in morphologically complex words. 
Some studies also used morphological synthesis tasks in which students were 
given morphemes and asked to combine them to form words.
We use the term morphological recognition to describe tasks that had students 
find common morphemes that linked sets of two or more words. For example, 
Berninger et al. (2003) presented word pairs to students (e.g., respectfully/respect 
and pillow/pill) and asked them to identify which word “came from the other 
word.” This task also provides an example of morphological analysis with mor-
phological foils, as it requires a child to recognize when a letter or sound sequence 
that is common to two or more words does not mark a common morpheme (e.g., 
as is the case for pill and pillow).
Morphological  production tasks  asked  students  to generate  derivations  or 
inflections without providing the needed morpheme. For example, Nunes et al. 
(2003) used an analogy task (e.g., sing : singer :: magic : ?) that required students 
to produce a specific derivation of a word but did not provide the needed suffix.
The morphological problem-solving category attempts to indicate tasks that 
required students to engage in deeper level processing (Edwards, Font, Baumann, 
& Boland, 2004; Templeton, 2004). These tasks require students to apply knowl-
edge in novel contexts, often with more than one possible route to a solution and 
involving the use of deductive or inductive reasoning. For example, Bowers and 
Kirby (2006, in press) presented students with sets of morphologically related 
words with characteristics which help them deduce morphological suffixing pat-
tern rules for dropping the silent e, doubling consonants, and changing y to i.
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157
TABLE 2 
Characteristics of morphological instruction
Morphological
content
Morphological
tasks
Study
Main
outcome
focus
of
instruction
Integrated
morphology
with
other
literacy
instruction
Tar
geted
affixes 
(prefixes 
and/or
suffixes)
T
argeted
bases
or
stems
Tar
geted
base
or
stem
for
word
meaning
Tar
geted
bound
bases
(e.g.,
rupt
for
break)
Tar
geted
compound
words
Tar
geted
word
origin
Oral
morphology
only
Oral
and
written
morphology
Tar
geted
consistent
spelling
of
morphemes
despite
phonological
shifts
Tar
geted
patterns
of
orthographic
shifts
in
suffixing
patterns
Explicit
link
of
morphology
and
grammar
Morphological
analysis
Morphological
synthesis
Morphological
recognition:
sorting/
selecting
Morphological
production:
cloze/analogy
Morphological
analysis
with
morphological
foils
(e.g.,
Is
there
a
re-
prefix
in
renter?)
Morphological
problem
solving
1
Abbott
and
Berninger
(1999)
R/S
2
Arnbak
and
Elbro
(2000)
R
3
Baumann,
Edwards,
Boland,
Olejnik,
and
Kame’enui
(2003)
V
4
Baumann
et
al.
(2002)
V
5
Berninger
et
al.
(2003)
R/S
6
Berninger
et
al.
(2008)
R/S
7
and
8
Bowers
and
Kirby
(2006,
in
press)
M
9
Henry
(1989)
R/S
10
and
11
Hurry
et
al.
(2005)
Study
1
and
2
S
12
Kirk
and
Gillon
(2009)
R/S
13
and
14
Lyster
(1998,
2002)
R/S
a
15
Nunes,
Bryant,
and
Olsson
(2003)
R/S
b
b
16
Parel
(2006)
V
(continued)
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158
Morphological
content
Morphological
tasks
Study
Main
outcome
focus
of
instruction
Integrated
morphology
with
other
literacy
instruction
Tar
geted
affixes 
(prefixes 
and/or
suffixes)
T
argeted
bases
or
stems
Tar
geted
base
or
stem
for
word
meaning
Tar
geted
bound
bases
(e.g.,
rupt
for
break)
Tar
geted
compound
words
Tar
geted
word
origin
Oral
morphology
only
Oral
and
written
morphology
Tar
geted
consistent
spelling
of
morphemes
despite
phonological
shifts
Tar
geted
patterns
of
orthographic
shifts
in
suffixing
patterns
Explicit
link
of
morphology
and
grammar
Morphological
analysis
Morphological
synthesis
Morphological
recognition:
sorting/
selecting
Morphological
production:
cloze/analogy
Morphological
analysis
with
morphological
foils
(e.g.,
Is
there
a
re-
prefix
in
renter?)
Morphological
problem
solving
17
Robinson
and
Hesse
(1981)
S
18
Tomesen
and
Aarnoutse
(1998)
V
19
Tyler
,
Lewis,
Haskill,
and
Tolbert
(2003)
Study
1
OL
20
Tyler
et
al.
(2003)
Study
2
OL
21
Vadasy
,
Sanders,
and
Peyton
(2006)
Study
1
R/S
22
Vadasy
et
al.
(2006)
Study
2
R/S
Note
.
R
=
reading;
S
=
spelling;
V
=
vocabulary;
M
=
morphology;
OL
=
oral
language.
a.
Morphological
synthesis
conducted
only
in
the
context
of
compounds.
b.
Study
included
a
condition
with
only
oral
morphological
instruction
and
another
with
written
morphological
instruction.
TABLE 2 
(continued)
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159
Calculation, Reporting, and Interpretation of Effect Sizes
Outcomes  were categorized by linguistic layer and by type of comparison 
group, producing eight distinct average effect sizes. The four linguistic layers are 
(a) morphological sublexical, (b) nonmorphological sublexical, (c) lexical, and (d) 
supralexical. The first comparison type was experimental morphology treatment 
(E) versus untrained comparison group (C) that received typical classroom instruc-
tion. The other comparison type was E versus a comparison group for which the 
researchers provided special alternative training (AT).
It is difficult to generalize about the ATs because they were different from each other 
and need to be considered with respect to the linguistic level of the outcomes. Across 
the 22 studies, there were 22 nonmorphological, sublexical outcomes for E versus AT 
comparisons. In 16 of those 22 instances, the AT emphasized phonologically oriented 
instruction, for example, in phonological awareness. Of the 75 lexical outcomes for E 
versus AT comparisons, 31 involved ATs with a phonological focus and 32 involved 
vocabulary instruction. There were 9 outcomes in the supralexical linguistic layer that 
used ATs. Of these, 5 emphasized phonological instruction, 3 vocabulary instruction, 
and 1 study skills. In general, the ATs represented established intervention methods 
with a record of positive outcomes rather than placebo-like attempts to control for 
instructional time and teacher attention that were not expected to produce positive 
results.  Performing equivalently to  these ATs would indicate that  morphological 
instruction is as successful as other more established methods. Furthermore, it is 
important to acknowledge that almost all of the “control” groups received some form 
of regular classroom instruction during the times when the E children received mor-
phological instruction; thus, each C group is also an AT group to some extent, repre-
senting a standard practice comparison group. We would argue that the E versus C 
comparisons represent the cleanest test of the effect of adding morphological instruc-
tion to regular classroom instruction, whereas the E versus AT comparisons test the 
effects of morphological instruction against those of other established experimental 
methods that may not be typical of regular classrooms.
Average effect sizes for these categories are reported in Table 3, as are the stan-
dard deviations of the effect sizes, the number of effects included in the average, 
the range of effect sizes, and the number of null effects that would be required to 
reduce the average effect to 0.2. Posttest means and standard deviations reported 
in the studies were used to calculate effect sizes with an effect size calculator (Coe, 
2000).
2
Random assignment was used with six of the samples investigated by 7 of 
the 22 studies (Studies 1, 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, and 20 in Table 1). Where possible, effect 
sizes were calculated with adjusted posttest means that statistically controlled for 
group difference at pretest.
3
Effects of Morphological Instruction
We begin addressing our first research question by reporting the overall average 
instructional effects by linguistic layer. Then we present the instructional effects 
within the literacy areas of reading, spelling, and vocabulary for the lexical layer.
Overall effects by linguistic layer. Table 3 presents the overall average effect sizes 
because of morphological instruction for each linguistic category. For E versus C 
comparisons, the strongest average instructional effects were for morphological 
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TABLE 3 
Overall average effect sizes by linguistic categories and comparison group
Linguistic
category
of
outcome
variable
Sublexical
Morphological
Nonmorphological
Lexical
Supralexical
Comparison
groups
E
vs.
C
E
vs.
AT
E
vs.
C
E
vs.
AT
E
vs.
C
E
vs.
AT
E
vs.
C
E
vs.
AT
Cohen’
s
d
0.65
0.51
0.34
0.08
0.41
0.12
0.28
–0.08
SD
0.72
0.55
0.37
0.34
0.48
0.47
0.26
0.30
Number
of
effects
37
11
26
22
93
75
12
9
Range
–0.13,
3.56
–0.34,
1.55
–0.37,
1.22
–0.53,
0.97
–0.58,
1.88
–0.78,
1.59
–0.02,
0.97
–0.54,
0.39
Null
effects
83.3
17.1
18.0
97.5
4.8
Note
.
E
=
experimental
group;
C
=
control
group;
AT
=
alternative
treatment
group.
Null
effects
indicates
the
number
of
effects
with
d
=
0.0
required
to
reduce
d
to
0.20
(not
calcu-
lated
if
d
is
already
0.20
or
less).
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Morphological Instruction
161
sublexical outcomes, followed by lexical and then supralexical outcomes. The null 
effects calculation reinforces the strength of the sublexical morphological and 
lexical effects. In E versus AT comparisons, the sublexical morphological effect 
remained substantial, but the others were much weaker. These findings are cor-
roborated by null effects statistics.
Morphological sublexical outcomes showed the highest average effect size, 
0.65 (SD = 0.72). This average, drawn from 37 outcomes, is halfway between 
Cohen’s (1988) benchmarks for medium and large effects. The high SD reveals a 
wide variety of scores. For E versus AT, d is 0.51, still a medium effect size. A 
smaller effect (d = 0.34, SD = 0.37) was found for nonmorphological sublexical 
measures in E versus C comparisons (26 outcomes). The lexical category (E vs. C) 
approached the medium benchmark with an average instructional effect of 0.41 
(SD = 0.48) based on 93 outcome measures. The average instructional effect for 
the far transfer category of supralexical effects, based on 12 outcome measures, 
was small (0.28, SD = 0.26). The E versus AT ds for the last three linguistic levels 
were close to 0, indicating that morphological treatments were roughly equal in 
their effectiveness to the alternative treatments.
Reading, spelling, and vocabulary outcomes  at the lexical layer. The overall 
effects at the lexical linguistic layer reported in Table 3 and addressed in the previ-
ous section reflect the combined average of effects across word reading, spelling, 
and vocabulary tasks. Table 4 pulls these effects apart to reveal effects on these 
different literacy outcomes.
Word reading tasks such as word identification, speed of real word reading, and 
orthographic tasks including real words (e.g., choosing the correct spelling of two 
phonologically plausible spellings such as taik and take) were considered lexical 
reading tasks. Results under the “reading” heading in Table 4 show that lexical 
reading measures for E versus C comparisons had a modest instructional effect (d 
= 0.41, SD = 0.45) and that the E versus AT effect was close to 0. The average 
instructional effect for lexical spelling outcomes (d = 0.49, SD = 0.48) is approxi-
mately the same, and again the E versus AT effect is close to 0. The instructional 
effects for vocabulary measures (d = 0.35, SD = 0.51) were slightly lower than 
those for the lexical reading and spelling outcomes, but the E versus AT effect was 
larger at d = 0.20. A substantial number of null effects would be needed to reduce 
the moderate effects for E versus C comparisons; the E versus AT comparisons 
were already at the d = 0.20 level or lower.
The Effects of Morphological Instruction for Undifferentiated and  
Less Able Children
Table 5 presents the results for undifferentiated and less able students according 
to the four linguistic levels (see Table 1 for the ability level coding for each study 
and study reference numbers). Effect sizes for less able students were drawn from 11 
studies (1, 2, 5, 6, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22). Effect sizes for “undifferentiated” 
samples were drawn from 13 studies (3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 
and 18).
Results in Table 5 show that average effect sizes for every linguistic level and 
for both E versus C and E versus AT comparisons were higher for the less able 
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TABLE 4 
Average instructional effect sizes by comparison group for literacy outcomes
Literacy outcome (lexical variables)
Reading
Spelling
Vocabulary
Comparison 
groups
E vs. C
E vs. AT
E vs. C
E vs. AT
E vs. C
E vs. AT
Cohen’s d
0.41
0.05
0.49
0.05
0.35
0.20
SD
0.45
0.32
0.48
0.37
0.51
0.60
Number of 
effects
39
34
21
9
34
32
Range
–0.58, 1.88 –0.52, 0.76 –0.31, 1.88 –0.48, 0.78 –0.20, 1.76 –0.78, 1.59
Null effects 40.9
30.4
25.5
Note. See note to Table 3 for notes regarding abbreviations.
readers than those found for undifferentiated students. For the comparison of E 
versus C, effects favored the less able for morphological sublexical (0.99 vs. 0.65), 
nonmorphological sublexical (0.63 vs. 0.27), lexical (0.58 vs. 0.40), and supra-
lexical (0.67 vs. 0.27). E versus AT effect sizes were in general smaller but still 
favored the less able participants. This consistent advantage for the less able stu-
dents needs to be interpreted carefully. One important confound is that, except for 
the study by Robinson and Hesse (1981), all of the data for less able students were 
gathered from interventions that used small group or individual instruction. Of the 
13 studies from which undifferentiated student data were drawn, 8 studies used 
whole class instruction. Thus, the increased average effects for the less able groups 
may be attributable, in whole or in part, to small group instruction.
The Effects of Morphological Instruction for Younger and Older Students
Six studies (13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22) from our sample of 22 interventions involved 
students from preschool to Grade 2. These six studies represent four sample popu-
lations. The 15 remaining studies involved students in Grades 3 to 8. Although our 
sample has fewer studies coded as “younger” than “older,” we judged this distribu-
tion to be sufficient to shed light on our third research question, particularly given 
its theoretical importance.
Table 6 presents results by linguistic category for preschool to Grade 2 students 
compared to Grade 3 to Grade 8 students. In the sublexical morphological category 
for E versus C comparisons, there were only 2 outcome measures for younger 
students compared to 35 for older students. Thus, the advantage for younger stu-
dents (d = 1.24, SD = 0.41 vs. d = 0.62, SD = 0.72) should be interpreted cautiously, 
though more than 10 null effects would be required to reduce this effect to 0.2. In 
the E versus AT comparison, the effect was similar for the younger children but 
lower for the older ones. For nonmorphological sublexical measures, younger stu-
dents showed a medium effect of 0.49 compared to a small average effect of 0.24 
for older students in the E versus C comparisons. The results were weakly reversed 
for the E versus AT comparisons. The lexical level also showed an advantage for 
younger students (d = 0.57, SD = 0.48) compared to older students (d = 0.37, SD 
= 0.48) in the E versus C comparisons but not in the E versus AT comparisons. At 
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