Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Susan Brady

Abstract

Although much research has supported the role of phonological memory with reading and math achievement, there has been mixed results within each academic domain pertaining to when in development and with what subskills. Additionally, the major focus of most research has been on the causal influence of phonological memory on reading abilities without considering potential reciprocal relations. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to: a) evaluate the contributions of phonological memory to reading and math skills development; and b) examine if reading influenced the development of phonological memory.

Secondary data was used from the Reading Development and Reading Disability: A Cross Linguistic, Longitudinal Study. The participants for this dissertation ranged from 6 to 11 years old at the first time of assessment and were tested again twelve and twenty-four months later (n = 80). At all three times, the participants were administered standardized measures of phonological memory, math fluency, math achievement (i.e., applied math problem solving), word identification, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Participants also completed a standardized measure of intelligence at the beginning and end of the study.

Results revealed a tentative trend towards phonological memory predicting math achievement but not math fluency. As well, reading fluency at the beginning of the study consistently predicted change in phonological memory beyond IQ, age, word identification, reading comprehension, math fluency, and math achievement. Overall, these findings indicate that phonological memory has greater contributions to reading development. As well, there is preliminary support that reading acquisition influences the development of phonological memory. The present results have implications for examining how phonological memory is related to specific math and reading skills and highlights a need to examine how reading acquisition may influence the development of phonological memory. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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