Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Gerald Begy


The purpose of this study was to compare the performance of educable mentally retarded children with that of children of average or above average intelligence in the ability to use context as a word recognition strategy. An additional purpose was to determine if a significant difference exists in the performance of language-impaired and non-language-impaired retarded subjects in this ability. Eleven second graders of average or above average intelligence and seventeen educable mentally retarded students from intermediate and junior high school classes participated in the study. Six of the retarded subjects were language-impaired; the other 11 had language development commensurate with their mental ages. All of the subjects scored within the 2.1 to 3.7 grade level range, as tested by two subtests of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests. The ability to use context was measured by a series of syntagmatically related word pairs in which the second word contained only minimal orthographic information. Single-factored analyses of variance were run on the data with respect to targeted responses, acceptable responses and total (targeted plus acceptable) responses.

Analyses of the data failed to reveal any significant differences in the abilities of the three groups to use context. The language-impaired retarded sample did appear to perform slightly lower than the other two groups in targeted plus acceptable response category, but this difference was not statistically significant. These findings suggest that educable mentally retarded students can use context for word recognition as effectively as non-retarded students reading at the same grade level, and that language-impaired EMR students may be slightly less proficient in this skill. Further research could continue to explore context utilization by the retarded, especially with respect to differences within the EMR population.