The Relationships among Cognitive Correlates and Irregular Word, Non-Word, and Word Reading.

B. Abu-Hamour, A Urso, N Mather

International Journal of Special Education 27 (1), 144-159


This study examined the relationships between and among: (a) Processing Speed (PS) Cluster and Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) Total to reading ability; (b) measures of RAN and PS to irregular word, non-word, and word reading; and (c) the relationships among irregular word, non-word, and word reading. The word reading measures were predicted by using multiple cognitive abilities including Phonological Awareness (PA), RAN, PS, and Working Memory (WM). Sixty participants, 39 students who were average readers and 21 students with reading difficulties in Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4 were recruited. Correlational designs testing predictive relationships were used to conduct this study. The results indicated that the PS Cluster had the strongest correlation with irregular word reading, whereas the RAN Total had the strongest correlation with both word reading and non-word reading ability. Reading performance was best predicted by RAN-Letters. In addition, the Woodcock-Johnson III Visual Matching test had the strongest predictive power of reading ability among all of the PS measures.

High correlations were found among the reading variables within normally distributed data, whereas there was no significant correlation between irregular and nonword reading within the group of students with Reading Difficulties. These findings provide support for the dual-route theory. Among the 21 students with RD, 10 students presented problems in both non-word reading and irregular word reading; 9 students presented problems just in non-word reading; and 2 students presented problems just in irregular word reading.

A model consisting of RAN, PA, and PS, as included in the study measures, provided the most powerful prediction of all reading skills. These findings also lend more support to the double-deficit model and indicate that PA and naming speed problems contribute independently to variance in reading.

This study provides direction for the assessment of specific reading disability and the cognitive underpinnings of this disorder. These findings support the need to assess PA, RAN, and PS, as well as various types of word reading skills, when making a reading disability diagnosis. Further research may cross validate the results of this study, or add other aspects of reading (eg., reading fluency or comprehension) to this line of research.