Reading and Writing

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 467–490 | Cite as

Statistical learning is related to early literacy-related skills

  • Mercedes Spencer
  • Michael P. Kaschak
  • John L. Jones
  • Christopher J. Lonigan


It has been demonstrated that statistical learning, or the ability to use statistical information to learn the structure of one’s environment, plays a role in young children’s acquisition of linguistic knowledge. Although most research on statistical learning has focused on language acquisition processes, such as the segmentation of words from fluent speech and the learning of syntactic structure, some recent studies have explored the extent to which individual differences in statistical learning are related to literacy-relevant knowledge and skills. The present study extends on this literature by investigating the relations between two measures of statistical learning and multiple measures of skills that are critical to the development of literacy—oral language, vocabulary knowledge, and phonological processing—within a single model. Our sample included a total of 553 typically developing children from pre-kindergarten through second grade. Structural equation modeling revealed that statistical learning accounted for a unique portion of the variance in these literacy-related skills. Practical implications for instruction and assessment are discussed.


Early literacy Oral language Vocabulary knowledge Phonological processing Statistical learning Structural equation modeling 



This research was supported by a Grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (R305F100027), and preparation of this work was supported by a Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (R305B090021).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Florida Center for Reading ResearchFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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