reading, morphology, etymology, linguistics, community college, vocabulary acquisition, higher education, teacher training, college preparatory, remedial education.


Students enrolled in a college preparatory reading class at one particular community college were categorized based on language origin. Native English speaking students comprised one group and foreign students formed two additional groups--students whose language origin was Latin-based (i.e. Romance languages) and students whose language origin was not Latin-based (i.e. Japanese). A pretest assessment measure was used to quantify the extent that pre-existing knowledge of Latinate word parts and morphologically complex vocabulary differed among groups based on language origin. The identical instrument served as a posttest to measure the extent that direct instruction in morphological analysis resulted in change among the same groups after one semester of instruction. Two sections on both the pretest and posttest yielded a total of four distinct mean scores that formed the primary basis for comparison. Categorizing students within the college preparatory reading class based on language origin revealed distinctive strengths and weaknesses relative to group identity when learning Latin-based word parts and vocabulary. Results of a one-way fixed-factor analysis of variance, in conjunction with multiple comparison procedures, indicated that the Latin-based group performed the strongest. This group had the greatest mean score on all four measurements; however, only for the word part section of the pretest was the difference statistically significant. The non Latin-based group performed the poorest as evidenced by scoring the lowest on three of the four measures, with a statistically significant difference for the vocabulary pretest. Additionally, a disproportionately large number of students within the native English-speaking group had difficulty mastering word parts. Though the lower group mean was statistically significant for the word part section of the posttest, practical significance was not observable from the descriptive data. A follow-up frequency tabulation revealed a dichotomization within the native English speaking group between those who proceeded to master word parts and those who did not. Furthermore, results from a pretest/posttest comparison for each respective group indicated that all three groups made significant gains on both sections of the test instrument as a result of direct instruction in Latinate word parts and vocabulary. However, there was an incongruity between word part and vocabulary mastery as all three group means were markedly better on the word part section of the instrument. The results of this study suggest that college preparatory students, regardless of their language origin, enter higher education with limited knowledge of Latinate word parts and vocabulary. The results further suggest that students comprising the heterogeneously populated college preparatory reading class can profit from direct instruction in morphological analysis--regardless of language origin. Prior research has demonstrated that college-level content words tend to be morphologically complex, singular in meaning, and likely to be Latinate in origin. Reading is the salient skill utilized across the curriculum and often the primary means of content dissemination. Reading, in turn, is principally linked to the extent of one's vocabulary. Consequently, teaching morphologically complex vocabulary at the college preparatory level along with providing a working knowledge of morphemes can assist students toward college readiness.


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Graduation Date





Taylor, Rosemarye


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Research, Technology, and Leadership

Degree Program

Educational Leadership








Release Date

May 2005

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)