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WKU faculty member awarded National Academy of Education fellowship grant

Dr. Jie Zhang, assistant professor of Educational Research in WKU’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, has been selected as a 2013 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow.

The fellowship award is a $55,000 grant intended to provide release time from teaching in a two-year term 2013-2015. The grant will be used to conduct research for Morphological Awareness and Word Learning in First and Second Languages.

“Morphological awareness is important for vocabulary growth and reading comprehension,” Dr. Zhang said. “However, how children use morphology (word parts) in learning the meanings of new word is less understood. The current study aims to understand the mechanism underlying the relationship of morphological awareness to English vocabulary and reading comprehension in native English speakers and English language learners.”

Dr. Zhang will examine (a) whether children can use morphological cues to learn the meanings of new words with and without context, and (b) whether morphological awareness facilitates word learning ability, which in turn, contributes to vocabulary development and reading comprehension. Findings will not only enrich the theories of vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension and bilingualism, but will add to the growing evidence of the education value of instruction in morphological awareness in first and second language.

The study will be conducted this fall in four elementary schools in Bowling Green and Warren County: Parker-Bennett-Curry, Dishman-McGinnis, Natcher and Lost River; and possibly next spring at Drakes Creek Middle School and Henry F. Moss Middle School.

Contact: Dr. Jie Zhang, (270) 745-2933 or jie.zhang@wku.edu.

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