In this study, we examined the role of morphology, an important yet largely understudied source of difficulty, in reading ability among 7th grade students in one junior high school in the southwestern United States. We sought to find out how much variance in reading ability is accounted for by these students’ morphological knowledge, and whether skilled readers do in fact have higher levels of morphological knowledge than less skilled student peers. We found that students’ sensitivity to the morphological structure of words accounted for 18% of the variance in these students’ reading performance. We further found that skilled readers had a significantly higher level of sensitivity to the structure of words than did less skilled readers. In light of these findings, we offer recommendations for interpreting and using the results obtained to better understand and scaffold students’ morphological knowledge, with the goal of helping promote students’ vocabulary growth and reading comprehension performance.


Originally published by Reading Horizons; A Journal of Literacy and Language Arts


College of Education & Human Development, Western Michigan University

Date of publication




Persistent identifier


Document Type


Publisher Citation

Mokhtari, K., Neel, J. Matatall, A, & Richards, A. (2016). The contribution of morphological knowledge to 7th grade students’ reading ability. Reading Horizons, 54(3), 39-58.

Included in

Education Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.