Students as Spellers: What Types of
Errors are They Making?
Elissa Arndt and Barbara R. Foorman
Florida Center for Reading Research
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL
International Dyslexia Association Annual Conference, 2009
Agenda
Introduction
What does the literature say about
students’ spelling knowledge?
What do 2nd graders know about spelling?
How can this information help teachers?
2
How many ways are there to spell
/sh/?
sh = ship
ch = chef
ti = nation
si = discussion
ci = special
xi = anxious
chsi = fuchsia
There are 14!
sci = conscious
sch = schnauzer
ce = ocean
se = nauseous
s = sugar
ss = tissue
psh= pshaw
(Bryson, 1990 as cited in Carreker, 2005)
3
Spelling is…
a linguistic skill;
it is the visual representation of spoken
language and relies on one’s knowledge of
the phonological, morphological, and
orthographic structure of the English
language (Perfetti, 1997).
4
Phonological Knowledge
is one’s awareness of the sound system of
language.
it has been identified as an essential skill
in both reading and spelling development
(National Reading Panel, 2000; Treiman & Bourassa, 2000)
5
Morphological Knowledge
is one’s awareness of the units of meaning
in language.
– base words, roots, affixes
English spellings have developed over
time to keep the morphological meaning
intact over phonological representation
(morphological constancy)
– sign -> signal
– discuss -> discussion
(Bourassa & Treiman, 2008; Moats, 1995)
6
Orthographic Knowledge
is one’s knowledge of the sound/symbol
correspondences of English, specifically the
rules and generalizations of how sounds are
represented in print
English is a less transparent orthography than
many other languages, therefore it is essential to
know the rules of written language and the
constraints imposed by English letter order
(Cassar & Treiman, 2004; Dreyer, Luke, & Melican, 1995; Moats, 1995)
7
Why Spelling?
- A student’s representation of words in
spelling provides teachers with insight as
to how well he or she is learning
necessary information about language.
(Carreker, 2005)
- Analyzing the spellings of individuals can
provide necessary information regarding the
understanding and mastery of orthography,
phonology, and morphology all in one
assessment. (Moats, 1995; Treiman, 1998)
8
The Relationship Between
Spelling and Reading
Researchers studying the relationship between
spelling and reading have found that spelling
ability predicts later reading success (Berninger
et al., 2002; Treiman, 1998; Mann, 1993)
Range of correlations between reading and
spelling reported in previous research indicates
a relatively strong relation (.68 to.86)
(Ehri, 1997, 2000)
9
Spelling and Reading
Rely on same underlying knowledge:
– Alphabetic system
– Memory for specific word spellings
Reciprocally related and develop in
tandem, but asymmetrical
– good readers ≠ good spellers, but good
spellers = good readers
(Ehri, 2000)
10
Spelling and Reading
So learning to spell helps students with
reading, but learning spellings from
reading is not a guarantee (Treiman,
1998).
Spelling gives evidence of children’s
knowledge of reading via phonemic
awareness, orthographic knowledge, and
morphological knowledge because it
requires precision to accurately represent
a word (Treiman, 1998; Ehri 2000).
11
Introduction to study
Spelling development research has
focused on students’ spelling ability with
specific orthographic and morphological
patterns and has not investigated the use
and interaction of phonology, orthography,
and morphology within one group of
students.
(Deacon & Bryant, 2005, 2006; Nunes, Bryant, & Bindman, 1997;
Reece & Treiman, 2001; Treiman, Cassar, & Zukowski, 1994)
12
Introduction: Spelling Patterns
Previous research has focused on early
elementary or older students and research on
2nd grade students’ spelling is lacking
Current research indicates:
– vowels are more difficult to learn to spell than
consonants
– past tense –ed is acquired over time,
– plural –s is relatively easy for children to represent.
(Jorm,1977; Kemp & Bryant, 2003; Nunes, Bryant, & Bindman, 1997; Reece
& Treiman, 2001; Schlagal, 1992; Stage &Wagner,1992; Treiman, 1993;
13
Treiman, Cassar, & Zukowski, 1994)
Introduction: Linguistic
Characteristics
Several studies have found that students
use phonological, orthographic, and
morphological information simultaneously
when spelling words, rather than
sequentially.
(Cassar & Treiman, 1997; Rittle-Johnson & Siegler, 1999; Treiman &
Bourassa, 2000; Treiman, Cassar, & Zukowski, 1994; Walker &
Hauerwas, 2006)
14
Introduction: Good and Poor Spellers
The research on good and poor spellers’ spelling
performance is contradictory.
Some research has documented poor spellers
generate the same types of errors as younger
children with typical spelling ability, demonstrating a
delay in development (Kamhi & Hinton, 2000; Nelson,
1980; Treiman 1997)
Others have found a different developmental course
in spelling acquisition (Bailet, 1990; Lennox & Siegal,
1996).
15
Research Questions
1.
What are the most frequent errors made on a
dictated spelling test consisting of standard
patterns typically taught and assessed in the
beginning of second grade?
2.
What are the most frequent linguistic
categories of the errors made on this same
dictated spelling test?
3.
Are there differences in the patterns of error
types for the bottom quartile when compared
to the rest of the sample?
16
Method: Participants
Sample
– 60 second grade students
– Randomly sampled from a larger research
study
25 word group-administered dictated
spelling test
Test Administered in October
17
Who were the students? (N=60)
Demographics
Total Number (Percentage)
Mean Age
7.8
Gender
Female
28 (46.7%)
Ethnicity
Caucasian
African American
Hispanic
Multiracial
32 (53.3%)
17 (28.3%)
9 (15.0%)
2 (3.3%)
Limited English Proficiency
Free and Reduced Price
Lunch
5 (8.3%)
30 (50.0%)
18
Method: Procedure
Student spellings of each word were scored
correct or incorrect
– Incorrect responses were further analyzed by
orthographic spelling pattern and linguistic
characteristic
80% or less correct was selected as criteria for spelling
patterns
All linguistic errors were tallied when occurred
– Bottom quartile was compared with rest of students to
see if any significant qualitative differences.
Bottom quartile was selected based on timed word reading
Highly correlated with spelling test performance, r = .83,
p<.01
19
Spelling Patterns Assessed
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
short vowels
long vowel single grapheme
vowel team (two or more
graphemes, includes
diphthongs)
Floss rule (one syllable word
after a short vowel that ends
in f, l, or s is spelled ff, ll, ss)
Changing Rule (if a
consonant is before a final y,
change the y to i when
adding a suffix that does not
begin with i)
Doubling rule (if a word ends
in one vowel and one
consonant and the final
syllable is accented with a
vowel suffix being added,
then the final consonant is
doubled )
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
past tense –ed
consonant digraphs
s blends initial
irregular plural noun (e.g.,
tooth/teeth)
plural /s/ and /z/
vowel-consonant-e
r-controlled
ck spelling pattern
20
Spelling Pattern Selection
Selection process consisted of a review of:
– Literature on spelling development and
assessment
– State standards that contained spelling
standards
– Reading and spelling programs
Core and supplemental/intervention
21
Error Analysis by Linguistic Characteristic
Phonological errors: a phoneme is not represented by a grapheme(s) in
the spelling of a word
E.g, do/dog, sick/stick
Orthographic errors: letter(s) are used to represent a phoneme in a
word that is not possible in English orthography/a spelling rule is not
applied when required
E.g., bick/back, hav/have
Orthographic image errors: legal/plausible but incorrect representation
of the phoneme in that particular word
E.g., rane/rain, boyl/boil
Morphological errors: the prefix or suffix is omitted, misspelled, or when
the suffix is added, the needed modification to the base is not spelled
accurately
E.g., smild/smiled, happy/unhappy
Transposition errors: the correct representation of phonemes is
selected but two adjacent phonemes occur in the wrong letter sequence
E.g,, nad/and, mta/mat
(Masterson & Apel, 2000; Treiman, 1993)
22
Results: RQ 1-spelling patterns
The following spelling patterns were correct
less than 80% :
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Doubling Rule
Changing Rule
Irregular plural noun
Past tense –ed
R-controlled
Vowel team
Floss Rule
Vowel-consonant-e
S blend initial
ck pattern
23
Results: RQ 2- Linguistic Errors
The order of
occurrences of
linguistic
characteristic errors
(most to least):
–
–
–
–
–
Orthographic
Morphological
Orthographic image
Phonological
Transposition
The order adjusted for
total possible occurrences
with these spelling words
(most to least):
– Morphological (56.2%)
– Orthographic (8.53%)
– Orthographic image
(8.23%)
– Phonological (1.30%)
(Transpositions not
calculated)
24
Results: RQ 3- Good/Poor Spellers
Demographics
Bottom Quartile
(n=15)
75% of Students
(n=45)
Age (mean in years)
8.09
7.78
Gender
Female
4
24
Ethnicity
Caucasian
African American
Hispanic
Multiracial
9
4
2
0
23
13
7
2
Limited English
Proficiency
1
4
FRPL ª
11
19
Note. ªFRPL = Free and Reduced Price Lunch
25
Results: RQ 3- Good/Poor Spellers
These same spelling patterns were correct
less than 80% for the bottom quartile as well
as rest of students:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Doubling Rule
Changing Rule
Past tense-ed
Irregular plural noun
r-controlled
Floss rule
Vowel team
Vowel-consonant-e
ck pattern
s blends
However, the bottom
quartile also performed
less than 80% correct on
these 2 patterns:
•long vowel (single letter)
•short vowel
26
Results: RQ 3- Good/Poor Spellers
The order of error patterns is the same as the rest of
the sample, but they occurred more frequently (most to
least):
Remaining 75% of Students:
Bottom Quartile:
Morphological (50%)
Morphological (74%)
Orthographic (6%)
Orthographic (15%)
Orthographic image (6%)
Orthographic image (13%)
Phonological (1%)
Phonological (2%)
27
Bottom
Remaining
16
Mean Number of Errors
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
P
O
OI
M
T
Linguistic Error
P = phonological, O = orthographic, OI = orthographic image, M = morphological,
28
T = transposition.
Discussion: RQ1- spelling patterns
Morphological spelling patterns generated the most
spelling errors
– 3 of top 5 pattern errors involved morphemes
Orthographic rules and knowing the correct context in
which to apply them was difficult for students
Spellings with regular 1:1 correspondence generated least
number of spelling errors
According to literacy programs and state curriculum
standards, these ten spelling patterns are to be taught and
reviewed during the second grade year
29
Discussion: RQ 2- Linguistic Errors
Orthographic and orthographic images
errors while greater in number, occurred
less frequently than morphological errors
when considering total opportunities for
errors.
Students in the beginning of 2nd grade
made very few phonological errors (1%)
30
Discussion: RQ 3- Good/Poor
Spellers
The pattern of errors for both spelling
pattern categories and linguistic categories
was similar for students in the bottom
quartile and the rest of the students.
Supports previous research that
documented a delay rather than different
pattern of spelling development for poor
spellers (Kamhi & Hinton, 2000; Nelson, 1980;
Treiman 1997).
31
Conclusions
On average, students struggled with 10/14
patterns assessed
Morphological and orthographic linguistic
errors were the most frequently occurring
Poor spellers made same pattern of
errors, just more of them
This pattern could be due to lack of
spelling instruction
32
Now let’s look at spelling across the
year:
100 second grade students in 10 classes
Same 25-word group-administered,
dictated spelling test
3 time points across the year
– October, January, May
Analyzed descriptively
33
Research Question
1) How does the pattern of student
performance on 14 standard spelling
patterns change over second grade?
34
Student Demographics
Demographics
Gender
Female
Ethnicity
Caucasian
African American
Hispanic
Multiracial
Limited English Proficiency
Free and Reduced Price
Lunch
Total Percentage
45%
34%
35%
23%
8%
13%
64%
35
How did the classes’ spelling patterns
errors change across the year?
Three spelling patterns maintained less
than 80% correct for all ten classes across
the school year.
-Doubling rule, Changing rule, and
irregular plural noun
36
Summary of findings
At the beginning of the school year classes
struggled to accurately spell all 14 spelling
patterns, with the exception of the long vowel
single letter pattern.
By the end of the year none of the classes were
meeting the 80% mastery criterion for all of the
spelling patterns.
In spite of student performance for total words
spelled correctly increasing across the year,
students at the class level were still not spelling
the majority of the spelling patterns correctly.
37
Anecdotal Observation Regarding
Instruction
– At the end of the year, the 4 classes that had
the highest spelling performance reportedly
used reading program A or B.
– Other classes who also reportedly used
program A did not follow this pattern of
spelling performance.
So it would appear that…
Quality of implementation is crucial
38
Initial Educational Implications
This suggests teachers do not have to
individualize instructional content for the whole
class
The whole class would benefit from being
explicitly taught spelling patterns
The bottom quartile, while requiring more
intense instruction, would benefit from similar
types of instruction
Teachers would benefit from an awareness of
going beyond student spelling as
correct/incorrect to look at the phonological,
orthographic, and morphological characteristics
39
Limitations
Descriptive in nature and therefore is only
suggestive of instructional implications.
A closed set of spelling words was used with
students; therefore, it is limited in the range
of information that could be obtained.
– Students only had the opportunity to
demonstrate their spelling ability on words
administered.
40
Some practical applications
for educators
41
Further Error Analysis
Beyond Total Correct/Incorrect
1.
Phonological errors: e.g. do/dog, sick/stick
2.
Orthographic errors: e.g. bick/back,
hav/have
3.
Orthographic image errors: e.g. rane/rain,
boyl/boil
4.
Morphological errors: e.g., stoping/stopping,
happy/unhappy
42
Further Error Analysis
Target Word
Student A’s
Response
Error type
stated
few
bridge
root
shout
wall
stay
boats
staoled
few
breg
rot
shot
wall
stad
bos
orthographic
no errors
orthographic
orthographic
orthographic
no errors
orthographic
orthographic
phonological
43
Practice with Deeper Error Analysis
Target Word
Student B’s
Response
Error type
stated
few
bridge
root
shout
wall
stay
boats
state
fue
bradge
rt
shot
wall
sta
bote
morphological
orthographic image
orthographic
phonological
orthographic
no errors
orthographic
orthographic image
morphological
44
What would you do instructionally
for students with mostly
phonological errors?
Work on building their phonemic
awareness skills
Make sure they understand the alphabetic
principle
45
What would you do instructionally
for students with mostly
orthographic errors?
Teach the unknown letter-sound
correspondences
Make the rules of letter-order and spelling
patterns explicit for students through
instruction and continued practice
E.g., FLS rule- cuff, hill, grass
46
What would you do instructionally for
students with mostly morphological
errors?
Explicitly teach the rules for adding
prefixes and suffixes
E.g., what happens to the y when you add a suffix
such as ‘–ed’ to a word like ‘try’
Morphology requires knowing what prefix
or suffix to add AND knowing when to alter
the base/root word
E.g., hope
E.g., hop
hoping
hopping
47
How do we help students master
this skill?
Make connections for students that will
generalize across texts by…
Teaching word analysis skills explicitly
– Syllable types
– Structural Analysis
Roots and Affixes
48
Six Syllable Types
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Closed (CVC)
Open (CV)
Vowel-consonant-e (VCe)
Vowel team/Diphthongs
R-controlled
Final stable
(milk, fan-tas-tic)
(she, si-lent)
(bake, write)
(sea, train, boil)
(horn, fir, art)
(sta-ple, rid-dle,
man-age, pic-ture,
sta-tion)
(Carreker, 2005; Steere, Peck, & Kahn, 1998)
49
Frequency of Occurrence by Type
Syllable Type
Closed
Open
VCe
R-controlled
Vowel Team
Final Stable
Total
Percent Distribution
43.3
28.9
6.7
10.2
9.5
1.4
100
72.2% of
syllables in
words are
comprised of
Open and
Closed
Syllables
(Stanback, 1992)
50
www.fcrr.org
51
Grade 2-3 student
center activity
Adaptation suggests
having students label
syllable types
52
53
5 Common Patterns for Dividing
Syllables
1. VC/CV
e.g., hap/pen, en/chant
pennant ?
2. V/CV
e.g., li/lac, hu/man
secret?
3. VC/V
e.g., lem/on, mel/on
level?
4. /Cle
e.g., raf/fle, tur/tle
eagle?
5. V/V
e.g., qui/et, flu/id
diet?
(Johnson & Bayrd, 2002; Steere, Peck, & Kahn, 1998)
54
55
Syllable Division
Instructional
Routine
56
Grade 2/3 Student
Center Activity identifying
base words and
inflections
57
58
59
Thank you
60
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