Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Susan Brady


Considerable research has been conducted examining the contribution of early phonological memory (PM) skills on later reading ability, whereas little has investigated whether early reading performance influences later PM, or whether there is a bi-directional relationship between these variables. A secondary dataset was used, containing a sample of 54 children tested across three time points during the fall of first grade (Time 1), spring of first grade (Time 2), and spring of second grade (Time 3), to assess the nature of the relationship between reading performance and PM. (Two simple PM measures were used in this study: pseudoword repetition and word span.).

The main purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between PM and reading performance, and if so, in which direction. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that early PM does not predict later reading, nor does early reading account for later PM development. However, correlational analyses showed a significant relationship between early reading and later PM, but did not point to a relationship between early PM and later reading achievement. Growth curve modeling analyses were used to test the second hypothesis, that reading performance would influence growth in PM development. Results from these analyses did not provide evidence in support of such a relationship. Lastly, a series of hierarchical regression analyses were conducted to explore whether shared variance exists between the two PM measures included in this study, and whether one is a better early predictor of later reading acquisition. These findings demonstrated shared variance between the PM measures, but did not reveal that either measure predicted reading.

The results from this study are discussed regarding the importance of the PM measure used and the necessary point in time, or in reading acquisition, when participants should be tested. In addition, the basis of the lack of a relationship between early PM and later reading is discussed, along with the findings that early reading corresponds with later PM development. Limitations and proposed future directions for research also are presented.