Use of Spellcheck in Text Production by College Students with Dyslexia
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Use of Spellcheck in Text Production by College Students with Dyslexia

Lynsey O'Rourke, Vince Connelly, Anna Barnett & Olivia Afonso (2020)
Journal of Writing Research, 12(1), 35-62

It is widely assumed that by identifying spelling errors and suggesting replacement words, spellcheck allows writers to revise spelling errors even if they do not have the necessary spelling knowledge. However, there have been no studies evaluating the efficacy of modern spellcheck tools for students with spelling difficulties, such as dyslexia. In fact, the very limited and dated research into use of spellcheck by writers with dyslexia indicated that, even when using spellcheck to revise spelling errors, this group left many misspellings in their texts. The current study is the first to investigate whether a modern spellcheck program allows college students with dyslexia to produce texts that are as free from misspellings as texts by their peers, and whether this affects the quality of the text in other ways.
College students with dyslexia (n=18) and a control group of peers (n=18) wrote two short essays using Microsoft Word, one with spellcheck active and one without spellcheck active. Spelling accuracy and overall quality of the texts were measured. Without spellcheck, students with dyslexia made more misspellings than the control group, however, with spellcheck active students from both groups left almost zero misspelled words in their texts. Text quality was not affected. Results demonstrate that spellcheck helps college students with dyslexia to overcome the limitations that poor spelling knowledge imposes. Importantly, results indicate that spellcheck does not lead to improvements in text beyond spelling accuracy, or lead to poorer quality texts, indicating that it is suitable for use in exam conditions.

PDF | doi: 10.17239/jowr-2020.12.01.03

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