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The ecology of spelling: A lens model analysis of spelling errors and student judgments of spelling difficulty

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Students who were identified by their teachers as poor spellers were asked to judge the difficulty they would have in spelling each of 100 words that were representative of the sorts of words they tended to misspell in their various subject areas (the spelling ecology). After making difficulty judgments, the students were then asked to spell each word on the list. Spelling errors were scored as either phonetic or nonphonetic. The researchers rated each of the 100 words on ten characteristics: number of letters, syllables, letters per syllable, double and silent letters; schwa, ambiguous, and unusual sounds; and two measures of familiarity to the student. This task was replicated after a four���week period to check for spelling and judgment consistency. Spelling errors and judgments of spelling difficulty were analyzed using the double system Lens Model using the ten word characteristics as ���cues��� in the analysis. Results showed only moderate agreement between difficulty judgments and spelling errors, and fairly consistent differences between those word characteristics that were predictive of perceived spelling difficulty and those predictive of phonetic and nonphonetic errors. Several different patterns of cue weights were noted for spelling errors whereas spelling difficulty judgments were primarily based upon word familiarity. Implications are drawn for the further investigation of spelling errors and of how students decide what constitutes a ���hard��� word to spell and for the potential improvement of the spelling judgment process using cognitive feedback from the Lens Model. The characterization of spelling as a cognitive activity has received increasing attention in the educational research literature. For example, two recent issues of Reading Psychology (Numbers 2 and 3, 1989) were entirely devoted to research on spelling. Much of this work has focused on spelling strategies (e.g., Anderson, 1985, Kreiner and Gough, 1990, and Olson, Logan, and Lindsey, 1989), spelling problems and types of errors (e.g., see Frith, 1980, and Weber and Henderson, 1989), and the relationship between spelling and reading (e.g., Templeton, 1989, and Zutell and Rasinski, 1989). However, there has been very little research on the issues of the criteria individuals use in deciding that a particular word is difficult or easy to spell, and the accuracy and effects of such a decision. We refer here to the more metacognitive aspects of the task ecology of spelling, and the effects of which may be shown in decisions to avoid or at least minimize the cognitive efforts expended in spelling a perceived ���hard��� word. The issue of judging spelling difficulty forms the focus of the present study. Here we attempt to document those features of a word that make students think it would be hard or easy to spell. We then relate this judgment process to errors made when students attempt to spell words. Finally, we compare the relative importance of various features of words as predictors of both difficulty judgments and actual spelling errors. �� 1990 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Date


  • 1990

Citation


  • Cooksey, R. W., Freebody, P., & Bennett, A. J. (1990). The ecology of spelling: A lens model analysis of spelling errors and student judgments of spelling difficulty. Reading Psychology, 11(4), 293-322. doi:10.1080/0270271900110402

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84930562052

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 293

End Page


  • 322

Volume


  • 11

Issue


  • 4

Place Of Publication


Abstract


  • Students who were identified by their teachers as poor spellers were asked to judge the difficulty they would have in spelling each of 100 words that were representative of the sorts of words they tended to misspell in their various subject areas (the spelling ecology). After making difficulty judgments, the students were then asked to spell each word on the list. Spelling errors were scored as either phonetic or nonphonetic. The researchers rated each of the 100 words on ten characteristics: number of letters, syllables, letters per syllable, double and silent letters; schwa, ambiguous, and unusual sounds; and two measures of familiarity to the student. This task was replicated after a four���week period to check for spelling and judgment consistency. Spelling errors and judgments of spelling difficulty were analyzed using the double system Lens Model using the ten word characteristics as ���cues��� in the analysis. Results showed only moderate agreement between difficulty judgments and spelling errors, and fairly consistent differences between those word characteristics that were predictive of perceived spelling difficulty and those predictive of phonetic and nonphonetic errors. Several different patterns of cue weights were noted for spelling errors whereas spelling difficulty judgments were primarily based upon word familiarity. Implications are drawn for the further investigation of spelling errors and of how students decide what constitutes a ���hard��� word to spell and for the potential improvement of the spelling judgment process using cognitive feedback from the Lens Model. The characterization of spelling as a cognitive activity has received increasing attention in the educational research literature. For example, two recent issues of Reading Psychology (Numbers 2 and 3, 1989) were entirely devoted to research on spelling. Much of this work has focused on spelling strategies (e.g., Anderson, 1985, Kreiner and Gough, 1990, and Olson, Logan, and Lindsey, 1989), spelling problems and types of errors (e.g., see Frith, 1980, and Weber and Henderson, 1989), and the relationship between spelling and reading (e.g., Templeton, 1989, and Zutell and Rasinski, 1989). However, there has been very little research on the issues of the criteria individuals use in deciding that a particular word is difficult or easy to spell, and the accuracy and effects of such a decision. We refer here to the more metacognitive aspects of the task ecology of spelling, and the effects of which may be shown in decisions to avoid or at least minimize the cognitive efforts expended in spelling a perceived ���hard��� word. The issue of judging spelling difficulty forms the focus of the present study. Here we attempt to document those features of a word that make students think it would be hard or easy to spell. We then relate this judgment process to errors made when students attempt to spell words. Finally, we compare the relative importance of various features of words as predictors of both difficulty judgments and actual spelling errors. �� 1990 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Date


  • 1990

Citation


  • Cooksey, R. W., Freebody, P., & Bennett, A. J. (1990). The ecology of spelling: A lens model analysis of spelling errors and student judgments of spelling difficulty. Reading Psychology, 11(4), 293-322. doi:10.1080/0270271900110402

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84930562052

Web Of Science Accession Number


Start Page


  • 293

End Page


  • 322

Volume


  • 11

Issue


  • 4

Place Of Publication