Examining Language and Literacy Profiles of Adolescent Struggling Readers Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Diamond, Joy
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, Department of Allied Health Sciences, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • As societal demands for literacy increase, many adolescents continue to exhibit weak reading skills, but little is known about the language and literacy profiles of adolescent struggling readers. The purpose of this study was to identify language- and literacy- related profiles of adolescents who struggle with reading. Participants between the ages of 11 and 15 (N=105) were assessed using measures of phonological awareness, morphological awareness, orthographic awareness, listening comprehension, word reading, and vocabulary. Examination of mean scores for participants in this study indicated overall average abilities across the assessment battery, but the individual profiles indicated clear strengths and weaknesses with some median scores within factors falling well below average. Exploratory factor analysis indicated three clear factors that were labeled: word identification, language, and phonological awareness. After factor analysis, hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis was completed based on the factor scores. The Partitioning Around Medoids (PAM) algorithm was used to partition the data set into groups. Results of the cluster analysis indicated that four clusters best represented the sample. Each of the four clusters exhibited different profiles of strengths and weaknesses regarding the median scores on each factor and observed scores of each of the language and literacy measures. The four-cluster solution converged with solutions created through k-means partitioning, as well as analyses using silhouette width and model-based approaches. The four-cluster solution was theoretically sound and provided information that was clinically valid. The results of the factor analysis and cluster analysis for this data indicated that the language and literacy skills of adolescent struggling readers are best characterized as four heterogeneous groups with varied profiles of strengths and weaknesses regarding word identification, phonological awareness, and language. The four-cluster solution portrayed interpretable profiles from an educational and theoretical perspective. Results of this study suggested the need to examine the reading skills of adolescent struggling readers in a more sophisticated, detailed manner in order to inform subsequent instructional decisions.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Erickson, Karen A.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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