Research Symposium

24th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, April 3, 2024

Alejandro Acosta He/Him Poster Session 1: 9:30 am - 10:30 am /283



Hello, my name is Alejandro Acosta and I am a sophomore majoring in Cell and Molecular Neuroscience. My project focuses on analyzing Morphological Complexity in Teacher’s Instructional Dialogue. Morphology is the study of units that contain a meaning that may be added to words and there are two forms of morphemes: derivational and inflectional. Derivational morphemes typically alter the meaning of the word they are being added to and change the grammatical class of words while inflectional morphemes affect the grammatical format of the words they are attached to but don’t change their grammatical category. Morphological awareness is very important for learning vocabulary and how to read.

Analysis of Morphological Complexity in Teachers Instructional Dialogue

Authors: Alejandro Acosta, Audrey Hendrix
Student Major: Cell and Molecular Neuroscience
Mentor: Audrey Hendrix
Mentor's Department: School of Communication Science and Disorders
Mentor's College: College of Communication and Information


Morphology is present in all written and spoken languages and has been proven to have a significant effect on learning yet it is still a severely understudied area. Morphemes are the smallest parts of linguistic expression and can be classified into prefixes, suffixes, and roots/bases. It is known that morphological knowledge is essential for learning and using academic language. However, little research has been conducted on the morphological complexity of teachers’ spoken language input during class instruction. This study focuses on two research questions: “What types and frequencies of derivational morphemes occur in teachers’ instructional dialogues?” and “Do morpheme types and frequencies differ by instructional subject?” The study utilizes 15-minute transcripts (n~1500) collected from 2nd-grade teachers (n=40) who each taught mathematics, science, English, and social science. These transcripts were examined using Morpholex (Cobb, 2023; Laufer & Cobb, 2020) an online affix profiler that categorizes the morphemes according to Bauer and Nation’s (1993) Levels of morphological complexity. Preliminary results show that derivational morphemes have a low frequency across teachers and subjects. Although morpheme frequencies differ between subjects, they have been found to be lowest in mathematics. Research findings will be discussed in light of opportunities for classroom morphological instruction.


Keywords: Cognitive Science, Morphology, Speech