ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2024, Vol. 56 ›› Issue (1): 70-82.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2024.00070

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Mechanisms underlying the effects of morphological awareness and rapid automatized naming (RAN) on the reading abilities of Chinese Children: An analysis of mediating effects across different stages

ZHAO Ying1, WU Xinchun2(), CHEN Hongjun2, SUN Peng2, WANG Haolan2   

  1. 1School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097, China
    2Research Center of Children’s Reading and Learning, Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Published:2024-01-25 Online:2023-11-23
  • Contact: WU Xinchun


Reading is important for children’s future academic success. Clarifying the mechanisms underlying reading ability has been a heated issue in reading research for decades. Most previous studies have focused solely on reading comprehension but scarcely paid attention to the mechanisms underlying reading fluency throughout elementary school. Reading fluency at the text level has been acknowledged as one of the indicators of children’s overall reading competence. Therefore, the present study aimed to clarify the shareability and specificity of the mechanisms underlying Chinese children’s reading comprehension and reading fluency across different developmental stages.

A total of 416 Chinese children in grades 2, 4 and 6 (lower, middle and higher stages) of elementary school were recruited and then followed up for half a year. Table 1 shows the basic demographic information of children in each stage. In the fall semester (Time 1), a series of tasks, including general cognitive ability; working memory; phonological, orthographic and morphological awareness; rapid automatized naming (RAN); word recognition accuracy; word recognition fluency and vocabulary knowledge, were administered. In the second or spring semester (Time 2), reading comprehension and reading fluency were administered. Three mediation models were fitted to the data with T1 morphological awareness and RAN as predictors, T1 word recognition accuracy, word recognition fluency, and vocabulary knowledge as mediators and T2 reading comprehension and reading fluency as outcomes. The remaining variables were controlled in all the three models.

The skewness and kurtosis of scores on each task are shown in Table 2. The means, standard deviations, results of analysis of variance, and correlations among variables are reported in Tables 3-6. Besides, for lower, middle, and higher stages, the three mediation models with a completely standardized solution were presented in Figures 1-3, respectively. A bias-corrected bootstrap confidence interval for the indirect effect can be more informative than simply testing the statistical significance of each path. Therefore, such a 95% confidence interval for these data was constructed, and the results are displayed in Table 7. As shown in Figure 1 and the left half of Table 7, the results indicated that morphological awareness and RAN significantly predicted reading comprehension and reading fluency at T2 via word recognition accuracy among children in the lower stage after controlling for the effects of T1 general cognitive ability, T1 working memory and T1 phonological and orthographic awareness. The mediating effect of T1 word recognition fluency in the contribution of T1 RAN to T2 reading fluency was also significant. However, as shown in Figures 2-3 and Table 7, in the middle and higher stages, the indirect effects of T1 morphological awareness and T1 RAN on T2 reading comprehension were not significant; for T2 reading fluency, the mediating role of T1 word recognition accuracy in the effect of T1 morphological awareness was significant in both stages, but the mediated role of T1 word recognition fluency was only significant in the middle stage. Moreover, T1 RAN contributed to it via T1 word recognition accuracy and fluency.

These findings attest to both the shareability and specificity in the mechanisms underlying reading comprehension and reading fluency across different developmental stages. These findings suggest that reading fluency should be incorporated as a legitimate index of children’s reading ability. They further imply that the developmental stages require consideration when exploring the mechanisms underlying the effects of morphological awareness and RAN on reading abilities (comprehension and fluency). This study provides empirical evidence for understanding the science of reading development among Chinese children and has important implications for future reading research and educational intervention.

Key words: morphological awareness, rapid automatized naming (RAN), reading comprehension, reading fluency