Has Computer Typing Changed Standards For Spelling?

3.8 based on 37 ratings

Updated on Dec 13, 2012


English/Social Science


Elementary School/Middle School/High School

Difficulty of Project



Less than $1

Safety Issues


Material Availability

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.

  • 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?

Research Questions
  • 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?

Experimental Procedure

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Test each participant by making him/her take a spelling test, by hand.
  4. Check for accuracy.Don't bother checking for time, as there are too many other variables involved.
  5. Test each participant again by giving him/her the second spelling test, this time on a computer.
  6. Make sure to use a program without spell check, such as Notepad.
  7. Once again, check for accuracy (not time).


MacArthur, Charles A; Graham, Steve; Haynes, Jacqueline B; DeLaPaz, Susan.Spelling Checkers and Students with Learning Disabilities: Performance Comparisons and Impact on Spelling.Sage Journals Online.July 1, 2009. http://sed.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/30/1/35

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

A graduate of Brandeis University, Sharon Cooper loves anything having to do with English, History, and Creative Writing. When she is not creating science fair ideas, she is translating Chaucer, writing short stories, or reading various works of literature. To discuss literature or literary experimentation, please contact Sharon at secooper87@gmail.com.

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