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The Lexical Restructuring Model (LRM; Metsala & Walley, 1998) attempts to explain the development of phonological awareness. According to the LRM, as children's vocabularies increase, children develop a more refined lexical representation of the sounds of which those words are comprised, and, in turn children become more sensitive to the detection of specific phonemes. The LRM identifies several lexical characteristics of words that influence children's phonological awareness skills: age of acquisition (AoA), word frequency, neighborhood density, and phonotactic probability. In this study, the effects of these lexical characteristics on children's performance on phonological awareness tasks were evaluated. Additionally, moderation of these effects by children's oral language skills and ages was tested. This study involved two independent samples of preschool children (Ns = 392 and 814) who completed measures of phonological awareness (blending and elision) and oral language. For both samples, AoA and word frequency were negatively related to phonological awareness skills, and phonotactic probability was positively related to phonological awareness skills. Children's ages and oral language skills were positive predictors of phonological awareness skills, and children's ages moderated the relations between AoA and phonological awareness skills for children in Sample 2. Children's oral language skills moderated the relations between AoA and phonological awareness skills for children in Sample 1. Results for AoA and phonotactic probability were consistent with the LRM; however, results for word frequency and neighborhood density were not. Implications and potential necessary re-conceptualizations of the LRM are discussed.
Age of Acquisition, Lexical Restructuring Model, Neighborhood Density, Phonological Awareness, Phonotactic Probability, Word Frequency
Date of Defense
March 20, 2012.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Christopher J. Lonigan, Professor Directing Thesis; Christopher Schatschneider, Committee Member; Jon Maner, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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