Linnea Ehri

Linnea C. Ehri faculty photo

Research Interests

  • Reading and spelling acquisition and disability
  • literacy
  • psycholinguistics
  • cognitive and language development


  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
  • M.A. (1966) in Psychology at San Francisco State University
  • B.S. (1963) in Psychology at the University of Washington, Seattle

Linnea C. Ehri earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1970 and was a professor at the University of California, Davis, before coming to the Graduate Center in 1991 as a distinguished professor. She has received research awards from the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the National Reading Conference, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR). She has held elected offices in these organizations, including as president of SSSR. She is a fellow of AERA and the American Psychological Association, Division 15, and a member of the Reading Hall of Fame. From 1998 to 2000 she served on the National Reading Panel, commissioned by the U.S. Congress to report on research-based methods of teaching reading effectively to elementary students.
Ehri’s research and teaching are focused on reading acquisition processes—the course of development in learning to read words by decoding and from memory by sight; preparing children to learn to read by teaching letters and phonemic awareness; vocabulary learning; learning to spell; reading instruction, particularly systematic phonics instruction; the impact of literacy on language processes; and the causes, prevention, and remediation of reading difficulties. She has published more than 130 research papers in books and scholarly journals and has edited two books and served on editorial boards of eleven scientific journals.
Her research has contributed to our understanding of psychological processes and sources of difficulty in learning to read and spell. Her studies underscore the importance of beginning readers acquiring knowledge of the alphabetic writing system. One major finding is that readers use their knowledge of grapheme-phoneme connections to retain sight words in memory. She also has found that learning the spellings of words influences readers’ conception of sounds in the words and helps them learn and remember new vocabulary.

Doctoral Dissertations of Students I Have Supervised

I have or am currently chairing dissertations for the following students:

  • Daphne Greenberg: Are word reading processes the same or different in adult literacy students and 3rd-5th graders matched for reading level? (published in 1997, Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 262-288)
  • Barbara DiBenedetto: Analogous nonword reading in normal and poor decoders at a variety of word recognition levels: Comparisons before and after remedial intervention.
  • Howard Fogel: Teaching elementary students who speak Black English Vernacular to write in Standard English: Effects of dialect transformation practice. (published in 2000, Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 212-235)
  • Maria Castiglioni-Spalten: Phonemic awareness instruction: Contribution of articulatory segmentation to novice beginners' reading and spelling. (published in 2003, Scientific Studies of Reading, 7, 25-52)
  • Alpana Bhattacharya: Graphosyllabic analysis helps adolescent struggling readers read and spell words. (published in 2004, Bhattacharya, A. & Ehri, L. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37, 331-348.
  • Diane Slonim:  Do phonological deficits in reading-disabled children stem from imprecise phonological representations?
  • Dr. Alba Langenthal: How do novice and experienced first-grade teachers evaluate reading progress in their students?
  • Donna Marie Wright: Do beginners remember orthography: The case of doubled letters? (published in 2007, Wright, D. & Ehri, L. Beginners remember orthography when they learn to read words: The case of doubled letters. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 115-133.
  • Esther Halberstam Scheiner: How teaching word families affects beginners’ reading and spelling.
  • Julie Rosenthal: Does seeing spellings help students learn new vocabulary words? (published in 2008, Rosenthal, J. & Ehri, L. The mnemonic value of orthography for vocabulary learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 175-191.)
  • Marcy Zipke: Metalinguistic instruction improves third graders’ reading comprehension. (published in 2009, Zipke, M., Ehri, L., & Cairns, H. Using semantic ambiguity instruction to improve third graders’ metalinguistic awareness and reading comprehension: An experimental study. Reading Research Quarterly, 44, 300-321. 
  • Adina Shmidman: Integrated pictorial mnemonics in English help preschoolers learn Hebrew letter-sound relations. (published in 2010,  Shmidman, A. & Ehri, L. Embedded picture mnemonics to learn letters. Scientific Studies of Reading. 14, 159-182.
  • Alan Tener: Dynamic assessment of word attack skill in phonologically disabled readers.
  • Simone Nunes: Understanding vowel knowledge in the process of learning to read and spell.
  • Mark Lauterbach: The acquisition of conventional spelling patterns by pre-conventional spellers: A developmental analysis.
  • Alicia Senia: The role of pictures when partial alphabetic readers learn new sight words.
  • Nancy  Boyer: Phonemic awareness instruction: Effects of letter manipulations and articulation training on learning to read and spell. (in press, Contribution of phonemic segmentation instruction with letters and articulation pictures to word reading and spelling in beginners. Scientific Studies of Reading.)
  • Catherine Constable: A comparison of segmented versus continuous speech production in a decoding program for children with specific language impairment.
  • Connie Petropoulos: Explaining early reading difficulty: A study of  teachers’ psycholinguistic knowledge.
  • Astrid Rodriguez: The influence of cross-linguistic input and L2 proficiency on L2 reading comprehension among Spanish-speaking adults learning English as a second language.

Professional Activities

Positions Held

  • 1997-present Coordinator, Concentration in Language and Literacy, CUNY Graduate Center.
  • 1993-present Appointment to faculty in Speech Language and Hearing Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center.
  • August 1991-present Distinguished Professor, Ph.D. Program in Educational Psychology, Graduate Center, City University of New York.
  • 1970-1991 Professor, Division of Education, University of California, Davis.


  • American Educational Research Association (AERA) Division C

  • American Educational Research Association (AERA) Division C

  • American Psychological Association (APA)

  • Division 15 Educational Psychology

  • American Psychological Society

  • International Reading Association (IRA)

  • National Reading Conference (NRC)/Literacy Research Association (LRA)

  • Psychonomic Society

  • Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)

  • Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR)


  • Journal of Educational Psychology

  • Reading Research Quarterly

  • Journal of Reading Behavior

  • Educational Psychologist

  • Review of Research in Education

  • National Reading Conference Yearbook

  • Learning and Individual Differences

  • Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal

  • Journal of Experimental Child Psychology

  • Scientific Study of Reading