Contributions of phonological and orthographic processing to reading comprehension in second through fourth graders

Julie Adriana Mayring, Fordham University


The study examined various component skills of reading in second through fourth graders to determine which underlying skills were most related to reading comprehension at these grade levels. While much research has been done in the areas of orthographic and phonological processing, this study sought to further decompose these skills into accuracy and speed components and to answer the question of whether readers at this age relied more on orthographic accuracy, phonological accuracy, orthographic speed or phonological speed when comprehending text. Finally, orthographic and phonological automaticity were investigated at this age level to determine their importance in the process of reading comprehension at each grade level. The examiner tested 112 elementary-aged children; 41 second graders, 31 third graders, and 40 fourth graders with measures of intelligence, reading, orthographic accuracy, phonological accuracy, orthographic speed, phonological speed, orthographic automaticity, phonological automaticity, rapid naming, and reading comprehension. The results were analyzed using descriptive analyses, correlational analyses, and multiple regression analyses. The results indicated that accuracy of decoding accounted for less variance with grade. In this study, measures of rapid naming contributed more variance to orthographic than phonological automaticity measures after accuracy was controlled. The role of rapid naming increased with grade. Finally, of all the measures, orthographic measures were the most important contributors to reading comprehension at the second grade and third grades. Although with minor adjustments orthographic automaticity was purported to have been the most important contributor at the fourth grade as well, it is believed that the fourth grade marks a critical change in reading, with intelligence accounting for a greater percentage of the variance in reading comprehension. Therefore, the contribution of word recognition measures at this grade is less significant. This study concluded that fourth grade is the age at which the importance of accuracy of decoding to reading comprehension decreases in importance relative to other components of reading. In addition, the orthographic automaticity measure deserves further study since it was such a strong predictor of reading comprehension with all three age groups.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Literacy|Reading instruction|Developmental psychology|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Mayring, Julie Adriana, "Contributions of phonological and orthographic processing to reading comprehension in second through fourth graders" (2002). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3040399.