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Amanda Goodwin

Associate Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning

Amanda P. Goodwin is an Assistant Professor in Language, Literacy, and Culture at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College. Professor Goodwin is a certified educator who has taught in public and private schools at the elementary, middle, and collegiate level. She is interested in how aspects of word knowledge, such as knowledge and awareness of morphemic units like roots and affixes, support the increased reading demands that adolescent readers face when reading content specific texts. As Pinker (1994) writes, “The engineering trick behind human language—its being a discrete combinatorial system—is... [that] words themselves are built out of smaller bits by another set of rules, the rules of ‘morphology’” (p. 120). She aims to help readers become aware of the morpho-phonemic nature of English. Recent projects include exploring how middle school students build lexical representations for morphologically complex words like thermosphere and financially. Her research team is working on modeling how knowledge of different aspects of a root words like financial supports knowledge of different aspects of a derived words like financially for different words and readers. Her team is also examining morphological problem solving strategies that students, including English Learners, use to figure out unknown words. Additionally, her team has examined an integrated approach for teaching morphological analysis, including word solving as part of comprehension instruction. The ultimate goal of these projects is to use findings to develop instructional strategies that support students in learning important word knowledge. Professor Goodwin publishes in research journals such as The Journal of Educational Psychology, Reading Research Quarterly, Scientific Studies of Reading, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Psychometrika, Language Testing, Language Learning, and Annals of Dyslexia. She also publishes and is on the editorial board of teacher journals such as The Reading Teacher. Her work aims to improve understanding of how morphological awareness impacts reading achievement and ultimately lead to better design of morphological interventions and improved student literacy.

Areas of Specialization

Literacy, Linguistic Processing, Morphology, Quantitative Methods, English learners Recent Awards

Co-Recipient with Sun-Joo Cho and Jennifer K. Gilbert of the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) Award for Outstanding Example of Application of Educational Measurement Technology to a Specific Problem, April, 2014

National Reading Conference/Literacy Research Association Student Outstanding Research Award, December, 2010.

Grant Work

Vanderbilt Word Detectives -

Recent Work

Professor Goodwin’s recent intervention work suggests morphological instruction can support literacy achievement. Her lab fit what they had been learning into a morphological intervention where 5th and 6th grade students learned more words and achieved similar literacy gains as students receiving comprehension strategy instruction. This work suggests teaching students about morphological problem-solving supports word learning. In other words, when a student encounters an unknown word in a text like thermosphere, helping that student find familiar parts like thermo or sphere leads to increased word learning. This can help students access the grade-level complex texts that are suggested by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Check out her in press article in Reading Teacher and other upcoming publications to learn more about our intervention.

Goodwin, A. P., & Perkins, J. (in press). Word detectives: Morphological instruction that supports academic language. The Reading Teacher.

Professor Goodwin’s lab has also made important progress on understanding adolescent word reading and lexical representations. Her lab found that different types of root word knowledge (i.e., spelling, word reading, meaning, and production of morphological relatives related to a root like sphere) contributed in different ways to different types of derived-word knowledge that make up lexical representations (i.e., word reading, spelling, and meaning knowledge of thermosphere; Goodwin, Gilbert, Cho, & Kearns, 2014; Cho, Gilbert, & Goodwin, 2013). For example, production of morphological relatives of the root word predicted whether a student could spell, read, or determine the meaning of a related derived word. In contrast, being able to spell a root word predicted only whether a student could spell the related derived word. Certain word characteristics like derived-word frequency (i.e., frequency of a derived word like thermosphere), root-word frequency (i.e., frequency of a root word like sphere), and opaqueness (i.e., whether there were changes in spelling and sound as in the example of sage and sagacity) also explained significant variance in lexical representations and in derived word reading. Findings from such models can guide future research and instructional recommendations including what sequences of words to teach, what aspects of word knowledge (like root-word reading) to coach, and what general reader skills (such as vocabulary knowledge and morphological awareness) to develop. As Barbara Foorman wrote, “There are significant educational implications of Dr. Goodwin’s work. First, teachers would be advised to teach students about the morphological structure of words in general and of derived words in particular. To strengthen the quality of lexical representations even more, teachers can build knowledge across the three lexical dimensions suggested by this study—accurate reading, spelling, and word meanings.” She won with Sun-Joo Cho and Jennifer Gilbert the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME) Award for Outstanding Example of Application of Educational Measurement Technology to a Specific Problem this April, 2014 for this work.

Goodwin, A. P, Gilbert, J. K., Cho, S. J., & Kearns, D. M. (2014). Probing lexical representations: Simultaneous modeling of word and person contributions to multidimensional lexical representations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(2), 448-468. doi: 10.1037/a0034754

Cho, S. J., Gilbert, J. K., & Goodwin, A. P. (2013). Explanatory multidimensional multilevel random item response model: An application to simultaneous investigation of word and person contributions to multidimensional lexical quality. Psychometrika, 78(4), 830-855. doi:10.1007/s11336-013-9333-5

Goodwin, A. P., Gilbert, J. K., & Cho, S. J. (2013). Morphological contributions to adolescent word reading: An item response approach. Reading Research Quarterly, 48(1), 39-60. doi: 10.1002/rrq.037

More good news on instruction: Using results of 30 studies, Professor Goodwin and Soyeon Ahn found a moderate overall effect of morphological instruction on literacy ( = 0.32), with supports for vocabulary, decoding, spelling, phonological awareness and morphological knowledge shown. Check out their article in Scientific Studies of Reading and also her article with Miriam Lipsky in Reading Teacher where they suggest five instructional strategies including 1) segment and build with morphemes, 2) teach affix and root meanings, 3) use morphemes to improve spelling, 4) segment and put together compound words, and 5) identify cognates to support ELLs (Goodwin, Lipsky, & Ahn, 2012).

Goodwin, A. P., & Ahn, S. (2013). A meta-analysis of morphological interventions in English: Effects on literacy outcomes for school-age children. Scientific Studies of Reading, 17(4), 257-285. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2012.689791

Goodwin, A., Lipsky, M., & Ahn, S. (2012). Word Detectives: Using units of meaning to support literacy. The Reading Teacher, 65(7), 461-470. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01069

Much of Professor Goodwin’s work has also worked to close the achievement gap. Recent work suggests morphology may be particularly helpful for English learners and struggling readers. See her studies in Reading and Writing, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and Language Learning for additional details.

For ELLs:

Goodwin, A. P., August, D., & Calderon, M. (in press). Reading in multiple orthographies: Differences and similarities in reading in Spanish and English for English learners. Language Learning.

Goodwin, A. P., Huggins, A. C., Carlo, M. S., August, D., & Calderon, M. (2013). Minding morphology: How morphological awareness relates to reading for English language learners. Reading and Writing: An International Journal, 26, 1387-1415. doi:

10.1007/s11145-012-9412-5 Pacheco, M. B., & Goodwin, A. P. (2013). Putting Two and Two Together: Middle School Students’ Morphological Problem Solving Strategies for Unknown Words. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 56(7), 541-553. doi:10.1002/JAAL.181

For Struggling Readers:

Gilbert, J. K., Goodwin, A. P., Compton, D. L., & Kearns, D. M. (2014). Multisyllabic word reading as a moderator of morphological awareness and reading comprehension. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47(1), 34-43. doi:10.1177/0022219413509966

Kearns, D., Steacy, L., Compton, D., Gilbert, J., Goodwin, A., Cho, E., Lindrom, E., & Collins, A. (in press). Modeling polymorphemic word recognition: Exploring differences among children with early-emerging and late-emerging word reading difficulty. Journal of Learning Disabilities.

Professor Goodwin has also been synthesizing the research literature on morphology. See her overview of the role of morphology in supporting literacy in her recent article in Journal of Learning Disabilities and in a recent book chapter.

Nagy, W., Carlisle, J. F., & Goodwin, A. P. (2014). Morphological knowledge and literacy acquisition. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47(1), 3-12. doi:10.1177/0022219413509967

Carlisle, J. F., & Goodwin, A. P. (2013). Morphemes matter: How morphological knowledge contributes to reading and writing. In C. A. Stone, E. R. Silliman, B. J. Ehren, & G. P. Wallach (Eds.). Handbook of language and literacy: Development and disorders, 2nd ed. (pp. 265-282). New York: Guilford Press.

Instructional Materials

Games - Find the Imposter and Word Wizard