An investigation of students' word knowledge as demonstrated by their reading and spelling errors
Bouchard, Margaret Pray
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The problem of spelling instruction has long been viewed as a problem in the divergence of the processes of word production and recognition. Students can often recognize words in print that they are not able to spell correctly. Despite a strong relationship between reading and spelling, students' performances on reading and spelling tasks often demonstrate significant differences in word accuracy and errors. The research investigated four aspects of spelling as developmental word knowledge. First, the research examined the third graders performances on a standardized spelling test and qualitative word knowledge inventory, and indicated that as students' spelling scores increased so did their word knowledge scores. Next, the study investigated the relationship of word knowledge development across four reading and spelling tasks. Using a repeated- measures design the third graders' performances and orthographic errors on an instructional - level, word knowledge inventory list were examined. An analysis of variance indicated that students' performances on the reading tasks were significantly better than their performances on the spelling tasks. A descriptive error analysis was employed to examine the developmental levels of the demonstrated errors across tasks and indicated that there was a significant task effect on the student's level of word knowledge. Further qualitative analysis of the reading and spelling errors of students revealed that the errors involved similar orthographic features across the tasks. Finally, the investigation explored the third grade teachers' rating of their students' spelling achievement and word knowledge. The data indicated that the ratings were significantly related to the students' actual performances in spelling achievement and word knowledge, but not adequate for instructional decisions. The findings suggested three pertinent considerations that need to be addressed in any analysis of reading and spelling errors. First, that the sample of reading and spelling errors needs to large enough be representative of their word knowledge development. Second, an error analysis that includes errors from different linguistic tasks, needs to consider the functional levels for each type of task. Further, the error analysis revealed that students use a combination of strategies, not only orthographic cues to both read and spell words.
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