Braze, D., Tabor, W., Shankweiler, D. P., & Mencl, W. E. (in press). Speaking up for Vocabulary: Reading Skill Differences in Young Adults. Journal of Learning Disabilities.

Abstract: This study is part of a broader project that has the goal of developing cognitive and neuro-cognitive profiles of adolescent and young adult readers whose educational and occupational prospects are constrained by their limited literacy skills. The study explores relationships among reading related abilities in participants aged 16 to 24 years spanning a wide range of reading ability. Two specific questions are addressed: (1) Does the Simple View of Reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986) capture all non-random variation in reading comprehension? (2) Does orally-assessed vocabulary knowledge account for variance in reading comprehension, as predicted by the Lexical Quality Hypothesis (Perfetti & Hart, 2002)? A comprehensive battery of cognitive and educational tests was employed to assess phonological awareness, decoding, verbal working memory, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, word knowledge, experience with print. In this heterogeneous sample, decoding ability clearly plays an important role in reading comprehension. Gough and Tunmer's Simple View of Reading gives a reasonable fit to the data, though it does not capture all of the reliable variance in reading comprehension as predicted. Orally assessed vocabulary knowledge captures unique variance in reading comprehension even after listening comprehension and decoding skill are accounted for. We explore how a specific connectionist model of lexical representation and lexical access can account for these findings.