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Dev Neuropsychol. 2006;29(1):261-77.

Effect of modality on spelling words varying in linguistic demands.

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  • 1Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Missouri State University, Springfield, 65804, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which spelling accuracy is influenced by response modality. A spelling list consisting of 40 words that varied in linguistic complexity was administered to students in Grades 2 through 6. Each student completed three tasks: (a) a words-per-minute measure to determine keyboarding proficiency, (b) spelling a word list via handwriting, and (c) spelling a word list on a computer. Independent variables included response modality, linguistic complexity, and grade level. Dependent measures included the percent words spelled correctly. Keyboarding proficiency was included as a covariate. Modality rarely affected spelling accuracy, regardless of the linguistic complexity of the target words. These findings suggest that spelling knowledge draws on modality-free, lexical representations stored in long-term memory. Further, they suggest that computer-based instruments are a viable option for spelling assessment.

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