Lervag, A., & Hulme, C. (2009). Rapid automatized naming (RAN) taps a mechanism that places constraints on the development of early reading fluency. Psychological Science, 20, 1040-1048.
This study explored the relationship between the ability to rapidly name items (RAN) and to learn to read. Three possible relationships were postulated: RAN may tap causal mechanisms for differences in learning to read; differences in learning to read might be the cause of differences in RAN; there might be a bidirectional causal relationship.
A group of 233 unselected, grade 1 children from Norway completed RAN tasks at 5 time points over a 37-month period. The first and second testing time points were compared for the children before and after reading instruction, and text reading fluency was also measured at time points 2-5.
Structural equation modeling examined how well Time 2 RAN and reading were predicted from Time 1 RAN. Results revealed that reading fluency, phoneme awareness, and RAN at Time 2 were strongly predicted from Time 1 RAN measures. Additionally, rapid naming of letters and numbers was strongly predicted by RAN for nonalphanumeric items. RAN was found to be an important predictor of later text-reading fluency. In latent growth curve analysis, nonaphanumeric RAN predicted the non-linear growth of text-reading fluency over all time points.
The results showed that nonalphanumeric RAN is a good predictor of later variations in reading skill, and that early variations in reading ability are not good predictors of later variations in RAN. Therefore, after reading instruction has started, RAN continues to exert an influence on the development of reading fluency over the next 2 years. However, there is no evidence of a reciprocal influence of reading fluency on the growth of RAN skill. Later in development, once literacy skills had started to develop, alphanumeric RAN predicted the further growth of text-reading fluency. However, text-reading fluency did not predict growth in RAN. Therefore, RAN and reading do not show reciprocal influences on one another.
From these findings, the researchers suggested that RAN may underlie a child’s word-recognition abilities but acknowledged previous findings that RAN related training has had limited success.
Jenna Coady is completing an independent study examining RAN, phonemic awareness, and reading in young children. She is finishing her final year in the Masters of Clinical Science program in Speech Language Pathology.