Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 13: 337–347, 2000.
© 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Effects of structural features on word recognition development of
hispanic and non-hispanic second graders
WILLIAM H. RUPLEY
, MAXIMO RODRIQUEZ
, SANDRA L.
, VICTOR L. WILLSON
& WILLIAM DEE NICHOLS
Texas A&M University, College of Education, College Station, Texas, USA;
North Carolina at Charlotte, N.C., USA
Abstract. Do Hispanic and non-Hispanic second graders acquire knowledge of structural fea-
tures of words in the same order and at the same rate? Does the order and rate of acquisition of
structural features produce differential effects on their word recognition performance? An ana-
lysis of these effects was the focus of our research. The subjects studied were 36 Hispanic and
39 non-Hispanic second grade students in a rural West Texas School District. The effects of ten
structural features of words on Hispanic and non-Hispanic second graders’ word recognition
performance were examined. The results revealed an interesting phenomenon: both groups
appear to be acquiring knowledge of the structural features of words at different rates, but in a
roughly similar order with Hispanic learners lagging behind the non-Hispanic counterparts.
Keywords: Beginning readers, Grapheme/phoneme correspondence, Hispanic learners, Struc-
tural features of words, Word recognition
Research on children’s reading during the past several decades has resulted
in multiple stage models of reading that share many similarities. Chall’s
(1996) stages of reading development advance from stage 0 to 5. Stage 0,
which is the prereading stage, coincides with the selective association, and
the logographic or visual cue reading phase identiﬁed by Ehri (1992). In
this stage, readers know very little about the letter sound system and rely
heavily on the context of the environment to attempt to recognize words
(Adams 1990; Gough & Hillinger 1980; Juel 1991). The alphabetic or phono-
logical phase occurs when readers are able to recognize the shapes, names,
and sounds of most letters and acquire a low level of phonemic awareness.
During this phase children can detect the separate sounds in the pronun-
ciation of words and also in letter names (Ehri & Wilce 1985; Juel 1991;
Mason 1984). The cipher phase (Ehri 1992, Gough & Hillinger 1980; Juel
1991; Mason 1980) of reading acquisition and word recognition encompasses
the latter half of Chall’s stage 1 (initial reading and decoding stage) and