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GSE School Psychology Alumna Reveals Childhood Reading Difficulty Relationships in Journal of Psycholinguistic Research


Sheena Mehta, PhD, (GSE, School Psychology ’16) served as lead author for the recently published “Invented Spelling, Word Stress, and Syllable Awareness in Relation to Reading Difficulties in Children” in the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research (ISSN 0090-6905, Volume 47, pp. 585-606). The article was written in collaboration with GSE faculty members Yi Ding, PhD, Associate Professor, School Psychology; Molly Ness, PhD, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Teaching; and Eric C. Chen, PhD, Associate Professor, Counseling Psychology.

Mehta created a study that assessed the clinical utility of an invented spelling tool and worked to determine how to better identify the cause of reading difficulties in children. She recruited 60 third-grade students for the study, half of whom were typical readers and half poor readers. The applied invented spelling task consistently helped differentiate children with reading difficulties from children who were typical readers. Further, variances in understanding and detecting word stress (pronunciation) explained a range of levels of reading achievement and conventional spelling ability, highlighting the importance of addressing phonological awareness during learning.

In particular, poor readers struggled with spelling words containing double consonants at the beginning and ending of words, and performed worse on spelling two- and three-syllable words more than typical readers. The authors discussed practical implications for teachers working toward early identification of children’s reading difficulties and focused on specific teaching strategies for helping these students.

“The foundation for Sheena’s work on this article began when she served as a school psychology intern in the Hoboken, New Jersey schools,” stated Associate Professor and article co-author Yi Ding. “I commend Sheena for her efforts in establishing a strong relationship with her mentors in GSE and her supervisors at her internship site, which she combined with a commitment to the value of educational partnerships that she learned in GSE’s school psychology program. That combination resulted in her ability to successfully conduct and complete this critical study for publication.”

Sheena Mehta currently serves as a Staff Psychologist and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Oklahoma.


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