Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type



Communication Sciences and Disorders

Director of Thesis

Dr. Suzanne Adlof

First Reader

Dr. Lesly Wade-Woolley

Second Reader

Dr. Kenn Apel


In order to learn to “sound out” new words, children must have phonological awareness, the ability to reflect on and manipulate the sounds in words. However, in skilled readers, performance on phonological awareness tasks is influenced by orthographic awareness, the awareness of spelling patterns and constraints. Both orthographic and phonological awareness are essential to reading, however, until recently the role of orthographic knowledge in phonological awareness has not been thoroughly investigated in beginning readers. Therefore, this study examined the relationship between orthographic and phonological knowledge in beginning readers and established a proof of concept for the use of eye tracking measures to examine these skills in young children. Two receptive tasks measuring phonological and orthographic knowledge were administered over a computer. Participants’ eye movements were recorded as they completed the task, allowing the examination of their processing as well as their accuracy. Following eye-tracking measures, participants completed norm-referenced assessments of language and reading abilities. Data collecting is ongoing. Investigating orthographic interference in phonological processing and sensitivity to orthotactic probabilities may lead to a better understanding of these processes in typical development. This in turn lends itself to a better understanding of reading problems associated with dyslexia and improved evidence-based practices.

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