The effect of orthographic neighbors on the spelling acquisition

The effect of orthographic neighbors on the spelling acquisition

First Author: YI-JUI Iva CHEN -- Rightpath Research & Innovation Center. University of South Florida
Keywords: Spelling, Early Literacy, Individual Differences, multilevel logistic regression, orthographic processing
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose
The purpose of this within-subject experiment was to examine the effect of orthographic neighbors on the spelling acquisition of second-grade students.
Method
In each of the five sessions of computer-based experiments, 71 participants saw two base words and tried to learn seven new words within three five-second exposures. The latter seven words included control words (no connection with the corresponding base word) and neighbor words (representing various types of connections with the corresponding base word). The spelling acquisition was assessed twice, immediately after an experimental session and two days after the experimental session. Three-level logistic regression was used to analyze the effects of neighbors, learning session, and individual differences on spelling performance.
Results
Rime neighbors consistently showed a facilitative effect on spelling performance. The odds ratios comparing rime words and control words were 2.34 (p < .001) for immediate and 2.46 (p< .001) for delayed spelling posttests. Substitution and transposition neighbors yield a facilitative but insignificant effect. Orthographic processing was a significant predictor of immediate (β=1.83,p<.001) and delayed (β=1.73,p< .001) posttests after partialling out phonological processing, decoding, oral vocabulary, and word identification. A significant interaction between orthographic processing and rime neighbors indicated that for each unit increase in orthographic processing, the facilitative effect of rime neighbors on spelling performance decreases by 26% and 24%.
Implications
Second-grade students can deduce spelling patterns of rime neighbors and use the patterns to acquire spelling within a very short time. Teaching spelling should be tailored to learners’ orthographic processing skills. Students with well-developed orthographic processing ability acquire spelling with relative ease, and are less dependent upon the boost that rime neighbors provide.