Poor readers are not easy to fool: comprehension of adjectives with exceptional control properties

P MACARUSO*, D SHANKWEILER, B BYRNE, S CRAIN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An earlier experiment by Byrne (1981) found that young, poor readers tend to act out sentences containing adjectives with object control, like easy, as though they were adjectives with subject control, like eager. Byrne interpreted this result as evidence that poor readers lag in the acquisition of syntactic knowledge underlying this distinction. However, the possibility that a processing limitation could have contributed to the poor readers' difficulties with object-control adjectives had not been fully explored. In an effort to tease apart these alternatives, we tested comprehension of object-control adjectives in second grade good and poor readers, using both an act-out task and a sentence-picture matching task. Contrary to Byrne's (1981) results, we did not find significant group differences in interpreting object-control adjectives with either task. Reasons for the discrepancy are suggested, and remedies for the pitfalls in designing experiments to assess syntactic knowledge in young children are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-298
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Volume14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • SENTENCE COMPREHENSION
  • TOKEN TEST
  • PERFORMANCE

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