Middle School Learners' Use of Latin Roots to Infer the Meaning of Unfamiliar Words

Amy C. Crosson, Margaret G. McKeown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: This study investigated how middle school students leverage information about bound Latin roots (e.g., voc in advocate and vociferous) to infer meanings of unfamiliar words, and how instruction may facilitate morphological analysis using roots. A dynamic assessment of morphological analysis was administered to 29 sixth graders (n = 17 intervention students) and 30 seventh graders (n = 18 intervention students). Qualitative analyses of analytic strategies revealed patterns of morphological problem solving that included direct (i.e., direct application of roots to analyze unfamiliar words) and indirect routes (i.e., use of known words that carry the roots to analyze unfamiliar words). Intervention students applied a direct route at higher rates than control students. Correlational analyses revealed a small but significant treatment effect on establishing meaning memory representations for roots and a significant, positive treatment effect for use of roots to infer unfamiliar word meanings. Overall results show promise for use of bound Latin roots for morphological problem solving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-171
Number of pages24
JournalCognition and Instruction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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