Date of Award

Spring 1995

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Leslie, Lauren

Second Advisor

Allen, Linda

Third Advisor

Brown, Janet


This is about why I chose to do the experiments' that I did. The reasons are many fold. Initially, I was struck, several years ago, by the fact that my youngest child could decode words, even when she was unable to understand their meanings. When I first began my graduate studies, I also observed that there are some students who understand the meaning of the words even though they were seemingly unable to give an acceptable pronunciation of those words, and couldn't generalize their knowledge of one word's pronunciation to other words' pronunciations. So the puzzle was set. In my Master's Thesis I explored the topic of phonological awareness. The extent of this body of research is immense and the future need for primary research in this area is limited. Combining my knowledge of phonological awareness with my observations about decoding, the next area of interest seemed, quite logically, to be the orthography. I had not even begun to pursue ideas about how the orthography of a language might help or inhibit children's reading. Coincidentally, the amount of primary research about the nature of orthographic influences on children's reading is very limited making the topic favorably heuristic. The final reason for this research is, I am just plain interested in how words work, and how people acquire and use words as they live out their lives. Words have always been as much a part of my life as musical sounds or colorful patterns. All of these will continue to be a source of fascination.



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