The Influence of Reading on Vocabulary Growth: A Case for a Matthew Effect Purpose Individual differences in vocabulary development may affect academic or social opportunities. It has been proposed that individual differences in word reading could affect the rate of vocabulary growth, mediated by the amount of reading experience, a process referred to as a Matthew effect (Stanovich, 1986). Method In ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2015
The Influence of Reading on Vocabulary Growth: A Case for a Matthew Effect
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Dawna Duff
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • J. Bruce Tomblin
    University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Hugh Catts
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Dawna Margaret Duff: dawnaduff@gmail.com
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Marleen Westerveld
    Associate Editor: Marleen Westerveld×
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2015
The Influence of Reading on Vocabulary Growth: A Case for a Matthew Effect
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 853-864. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-13-0310
History: Received November 13, 2013 , Revised May 17, 2014 , Accepted February 15, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2015, Vol. 58, 853-864. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-13-0310
History: Received November 13, 2013; Revised May 17, 2014; Accepted February 15, 2015

Purpose Individual differences in vocabulary development may affect academic or social opportunities. It has been proposed that individual differences in word reading could affect the rate of vocabulary growth, mediated by the amount of reading experience, a process referred to as a Matthew effect (Stanovich, 1986).

Method In the current study, assessments of written word–reading skills in the 4th grade and oral vocabulary knowledge collected in kindergarten and in the 4th, 8th, and 10th grades from a large epidemiologically based sample (n = 485) allowed a test of the relationship of early word-reading skills and the subsequent rate of vocabulary growth.

Results Consistent with the hypothesis, multilevel modeling revealed the rate of vocabulary growth after the 4th grade to be significantly related to 4th-grade word reading after controlling for kindergarten vocabulary level, that is, above average readers experienced a higher rate of vocabulary growth than did average readers.

Conclusions Vocabulary growth rate differences accumulated over time such that the effect on vocabulary size was large.

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