Orthographic Processing in Models of Word Recognition

Authored by: Anne E. Cunningham , Ruth G. Nathan , Katie Schmidt Raher

Handbook of Reading Research: Volume IV

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780805853421
eBook ISBN: 9780203840412
Adobe ISBN: 9781136891427


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Automaticity with word recognition plays a fundamental role in facilitating comprehension of text and, thus, is a primary determinant of reading achievement throughout schooling. The greater a child’s facility with word identification, the better his or her chances of comprehension and general proficiency in reading (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1997; Juel, 1988). As a result, developing our collective understanding of the causes of individual differences in the acquisition of fluent word recognition is critical for the prevention and remediation of reading difficulties. Although there is general agreement in the field that rapid word recognition is a marker of skilled reading and necessary for higher order processes (see review in Pearson, Dole, Duffy, & Koehler, 1992; Stanovich, 2000), a more complete explanation of the processes by which fluent word recognition develops is needed. Research has consistently demonstrated the importance of phonological processing skills in reading acquisition (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD], 2000; Share, 1995; Stanovich, 1986, 2000). However, it is increasingly apparent that phonological processes cannot single-handedly explain all of the reliable variance in word recognition skill. Recent attention has focused on orthographic processing as an additional source of variance (Cunningham, Perry, & Stanovich, 2001).

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