Naming fluency and reading development


Dr Daisy Powell

Professor Rhona Stainthorp

In two ESRC funded projects we sought to shed light on the link between children’s performance on “Rapid Automatized Naming” (RAN) tasks and reading. RAN tasks involve children naming sets of very familiar things (objects, colours, letters or numbers) as quickly as they can. Poor performance on RAN tasks has been linked to reading difficulties, though the underlying cause of the RAN-reading link is not fully understood. We therefore carried out a large study contrasting Year 3 and 4 children poor at RAN tasks with a closely matched control group. As predicted, the low RAN group had a modest difficulty with both reading and spelling, which persisted into secondary school. We also identified a difficulty discriminating simple visual stimuli, like oblique lines and curves, as one potential source of their RAN difficulty. We also showed that RAN difficulties seem to particularly impair children’s stored knowledge of the written form of words. In English this knowledge is crucial for reading and spelling words with irregular spellings (like “pint”, or “yacht”).


Related publications:

  • Powell, D., Stuart, M., Garwood, H., Quinlan, P., & Stainthorp, R. (2007). An experimental comparison between rival theories of Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) performance and its relationship to reading. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 98(1), 46-68.
  • Powell, D., Stainthorp, R., & Stuart, M. (2015). Deficits in orthographic knowledge, but not in orthographic learning, in children poor at Rapid Automatized Naming tasks. Scientific Studies of Reading.
  • Stainthorp, R., Powell, D., & Stuart, M. (2013). The relationship between rapid naming and word spelling in English. Journal of Research in Reading, 36(4), 371-388.
  • Stainthorp, R. W., Powell, D., Stuart, M., Quinlan, P. and Garwood, H. (2010) Visual processing deficits in children with slow RAN performance. Scientific Studies of Reading, 14 (3), 266-292.