Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Naming speed and reading: From prediction to instruction

Kirby, J. R., Georgiou, G. K., Martinussen, R., & Parrila, R. (2010). Naming speed and reading: From prediction to instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 45(3), 341–362.

Naming speed is the ability to name a series of familiar objects or letters at a fast pace. It is known to be related to reading ability, although the exact nature of that relationship is debated among researchers. A review of research shows that naming speed predicts performance on most reading measures, including single word reading, pseudoword reading, and reading comprehension. The relation between naming speed and reading is strongest in timed reading tasks, and in languages that use consistent spelling conventions.

One way to examine the relationship between naming speed, reading, and other processes underlying reading is to look to populations with impairments. Children with dyslexia show poor performance on naming speed and phonological awareness tasks compared to peers. Wolfe and Bowers (1999) call this the double-deficit hypothesis (DDH), arguing that naming speed and phonological awareness are separate constructs and can be separately impaired. Empirical support for DDH is mixed due to a variety of factors, such as variation between studies in participant reading ability, and spelling rules of the languages studied.

Studies looking at naming speed instruction have found that interventions targeting naming speed directly tended to show limited or temporary improvements at best. In contrast, broad reading interventions lead to gains on reading measures and only sometimes on naming speed. An additional finding in intervention literature is that a child’s naming speed most strongly predicted how well she would respond to a reading intervention. Taken together, these findings suggest that although naming speed is a strong predictor of reading ability, it may be more effective to offer intervention targeting other reading processes.

Blogger: Laura Pauls, PhD Student

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