Word Detectives: Using Units of Meaning to Support Literacy


  • Amanda Goodwin,

  • Miriam Lipsky,

  • Soyeon Ahn


This study examines the effect of morphological instruction and synthesizes instructional methods from 30 morphological interventions into four recommended morphological instructional strategies. Results suggest children receiving morphological instruction performed significantly better on measures of literacy achievement, especially in the areas of phonological and morphological awareness, decoding, spelling, and vocabulary skills. Analysis of instructional trends suggests five ways to increase morphological knowledge including 1) segment and build with morphemes, 2) teach affix and root meanings, 3) use morphemes to improve spelling, 4) segment and put together compound words, and 5) identify cognates to support ELLs. This study demonstrates why morphological knowledge is important, determines the overall effect of morphological instruction, and suggests ways teachers can incorporate morphological instruction within their teaching.