Professor. Linnea Ehri

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Biography and Keynote Speaker Abstract

Linnea Ehri received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a professor at the University of California, Davis, for many years before moving to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York as a Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology. She has received research awards from the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the International Reading Association, the National Reading Conference (NRC), and the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR). She has held elective offices in AERA and NRC as well as SSSR where she served as president. She is a member of the Reading Hall of Fame. She served on the National Reading Panel (1998-2000) which was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to report on effective, research-based methods of teaching reading to elementary students. She has received federal research grants from NICHD and the Office of Education. Her research is focused on how children learn to read and spell words, early precursors of success, sources of difficulty, and the forms of instruction that facilitate learning to read. She has published over 140 scholarly papers on language and literacy.

A Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Professor Ehri conducts research on literacy acquisition. With a particular interest in how children learn to read and spell and what causes some children difficulty in becoming good readers and spellers.


Acquisition of Sight Word Reading, Spelling Memory, and Vocabulary Learning: The Role of Orthographic Mapping

Theory and research are presented to explain the following view. When children learn to read words from memory by sight, they apply their knowledge of letter-sound connections and phoneme segmentation. This bonds the spellings of words to their pronunciations and meanings in memory. This connection forming process, called orthographic mapping, explains children’s sight word reading and their ability to remember the spellings of words. It explains how children learn vocabulary words better when they are shown spellings of the words. The course of development in learning to read words consists of a sequence of overlapping phases, each characterized by the type of connections linking spellings of words to their pronunciations in memory. Initially children form partial letter-sound connections, often between first and final letter-sounds in words. Once they learn the full orthographic mapping system, more complete letter-sound connections are used to remember the full spellings of words. As word knowledge grows, multi-letter syllable and morphemic units are used to form connections. Students with dyslexia typically have phonological difficulties that limit their use of orthographic mapping to retain complete spellings of words bonded to pronunciations in memory. As a result, their sight word learning depends more heavily on non-phonological letter sequences acquired through statistical learning. 

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