Has Computer Typing Changed Standards For Spelling?
Elementary School/Middle School/High School
Difficulty of Project
Less than $1
Easily available from your home or local drugstore.
Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project
At least a day.
- To determine whether spelling is linked to one’s primary method of writing.
- To test whether the presence of spell check has changed standards for spelling.
Materials and Equipment / Ingredients
- A computer with Notepad (or some other program without a spellchecker)
- Paper, Pencils
Most people remember the weekly spelling tests they had to take in elementary school. But as people grow up, most of their writing is done on a computer. In the case of complicated vocabulary words, some people may have only typed them on a computer, and never physically written them out. Are people who type able to spell better while typing? Has spell check changed the value of being a good speller?
- Does method of writing influence the accuracy of spelling?
- Are people who type more likely to misspell words that are autocorrected by spell check?
- Are people who type more likely to misspell convoluted words that they have only recently learned?
Terms, Concepts and Questions to Start Background Research
- What words does Microsoft Spell Check tend to autocorrect?
- What words are most commonly misspelled (by adults and by children)?
- What are the differences between learning to spell on a computer and learning to spell by hand?
- Find a group of participants who are interested in taking part in this study. Make sure the group is divided equally between participants who primarily type on a computer, and participants who primarily hand-write.
- Create two spelling lists of words. Both will contain the following sets of words: a. Words that are commonly auto-corrected by Microsoft Spell Check b. Words that are difficult for most spellers c. Words that one would tend to learn later in life.
- Test each participant by making him/her take a spelling test, by hand.
- Check for accuracy. Don't bother checking for time, as there are too many other variables involved.
- Test each participant again by giving him/her the second spelling test, this time on a computer.
- Make sure to use a program without spell check, such as Notepad.
- Once again, check for accuracy (not time).
Cunningham, Anne E; Stanovich, Keith E. Early Spelling Acquisition: Writing beats the Computer. APA PsycNET Direct. March 1990. http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1990-21004-001&CFID=6120471&CFTOKEN=47710399
Anonymous. Why Handwriting and Spelling Drills, Done in Isolation, Miss the Point. VANews.com. Oct 15, 2009. http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/archive/2009-10/2009-10-15-voa2.cfm
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