Authors: Murphy KA, Diehm EA
Title: Collecting Words: A Clinical Example of a Morphology-Focused Orthographic Intervention
Source: Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 2020 51(3): 544-560
Year: 2020
Research Design: Single Case Design

Purpose: Morphological interventions promote gains in morphological knowledge and in other oral and written language skills (e.g., phonological awareness, vocabulary, reading, and spelling), yet we have a limited understanding of critical intervention features. In this clinical focus article, we describe a relatively novel approach to teaching morphology that considers its role as the key organizing principle of English orthography. We also present a clinical example of such an intervention delivered during a summer camp at a university speech and hearing clinic. Method: Graduate speech-language pathology students provided a 6-week morphology-focused orthographic intervention to children in first through fourth grade (n = 10) who demonstrated word-level reading and spelling difficulties. The intervention focused children's attention on morphological families, teaching how morphology is interrelated with phonology and etymology in English orthography. Results: Comparing pre- and posttest scores, children demonstrated improvement in reading and/or spelling abilities, with the largest gains observed in spelling affixes within polymorphemic words. Children and their caregivers reacted positively to the intervention. Therefore, data from the camp offer preliminary support for teaching morphology within the context of written words, and the intervention appears to be a feasible approach for simultaneously increasing morphological knowledge, reading, and spelling. Conclusion: Children with word-level reading and spelling difficulties may benefit from a morphology-focused orthographic intervention, such as the one described here. Research on the approach is warranted, and clinicians are encouraged to explore its possible effectiveness in their practice.

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