The Effects of Word Familiarity Orthographic Transformation, Letter Degradation, and Word Length on Speed of Semantic Categorization in Children
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
It was the purpose of this research to analyze one critical aspect of reading acquisition-the ability to read a noun as a single perceptual unit and categorize it. What is the extent to which third-grade readers process a word as a string of individual letters (or units), which they integrate later, in contrast to processing a word as a single perceptual unit? In order to investigate the size of the perceptual unit used by average third-grade readers, the visual stimulus was systematically varied. The study examined the effects of word familiarity (familiar vs. unfamiliar), orthography (regular vs. transformed, mirror-image text), clarity of print (clear vs. degraded), and word length (three, four, five, six, seven-eight letters) on semantic categorization time. Words were designated as familiar or unfamiliar based en the age of acquisition or level at which they are commonly introduced in the basal reader series used in the schools, Familiar words are introduced in first- and second-grade basal readers, and unfamiliar words are introduced in fourth- and fifth-grade basal readers. The subjects were 30 third-grade children woo were identified as average readers for their school, Subjects were instructed to press a button as quickly as possible if the word projected on the screen was the name of an animal, Both categorization times and error performance were recorded. The data were analyzed through a four-factor analysis of variance with repeated measures on all factors. In view of a significant three-way interaction (familiarity, orthography, and length) further analyses were conducted. The results of these F tests indicated that the differences in letter length were not significant in the familiar regular condition and the unfamiliar regular condition. However, the differences in letter length were significant in the familiar transformed condition and the unfamiliar transformed condition. Furthermore, Newman-Keuls tests and a trend analysis supported serial processing in the transformed condition...