Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Speech-Language Pathology

Department or School/College

Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Julie Wolter

Commitee Members

Dr. Julie Wolter, Coille Putman, Dr. Amy Ratto Parks


morphological awareness, developmental language disorder, literacy, language impairment


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Language and Literacy Education | Reading and Language | Speech Pathology and Audiology


Past research has shown phonological awareness is highly correlated with language and literacy success in children with and without Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), but a less examined area of language and literacy is morphological awareness. Delayed morphology in children with DLD has been studied extensively in spoken language, but relatively little in written language in the DLD population. This study explored two research questions: 1) Is morphological awareness related to language and literacy success in children with and without DLD, and 2) Is morphological awareness impaired for those children with DLD and dyslexia similarly to that of phonological awareness. A classroom-based language and literacy screener was administered to all kindergarten students in the public schools of Missoula, Montana and Worcester, Massachusetts. Children who scored in the bottom 33% of their class were invited to complete additional standardized assessment to evaluate their language and literacy skills. Data for this study was collected from 40 kindergarten children (20 female, 20 male with an average age of 5;11) who completed all testing. After data collection, Pearson correlational analyses were run to examine the relationships between each of the five language and literacy measures. Morphological awareness was found to be significantly correlated (p < .01) with all five measures of language and literacy. Phonological awareness was not found to be as related to language and literacy skills as morphological awareness, with only two similarly significant (p < .01) relationships and one less significant (p < .05) relationship. These results suggest impaired morphological awareness in written language may be another hallmark of DLD. As such, morphological awareness could potentially increase sensitivity of screening measures for more accurate early identification of children with language and literacy deficits, possibly preventing literacy failure. Future research should aim to increase participant numbers to allow for division of participants into various subgroups (e.g., based on nonverbal intelligence, word reading status) to determine if these significant correlations extend to all children or only specific subgroups.



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