Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


The outcomes of a writing program allowing children in a first-grade classroom to invent spellings were investigated. Samples of five students' writings, student observations, and parent and student interviews were collected and analyzed. Findings were reported concerning (a) spelling, (b) fluency, and (c) attitude toward writing. The acquisition of literacy is a problem-solving process in which children naturally and actively engage as they discover the underlying principles of English orthography. Learning to spell requires children to construct and test rules constantly with experiences that are meaningful and purposeful. Invented spelling depends on children's ability to isolate the separate speech sounds that comprise words. This process is known as phonemic segmentation. Spelling reflects children's judgements of how sounds are represented. The effect of invented spelling on spelling growth of the children in this study seemed to be substantial, although this effect needs to be interpreted with caution because no control group was used in this study. All children grew in their understanding of basic principles of our English system including the alphabet and concept of a word. The children progressed through developmental stages as they acquired language skills. Specific strategies such as a letter-name strategy, development of long and short vowels, and representation of the past tense marker were evident. Throughout the course of the study students' productions became more readable as more individual sounds were represented within words. Students' productions became progressively longer. Students were given ample opportunity to practice and internalize newly acquired skills with experiences that were meaningful and purposeful. Improvement in student attitude was observed as students discovered the joy of writing and grew in their understanding of the language system. As they were allowed to generate, test, and evaluate their theories about our language system, they discovered that writing was fun and served a function. They were proud of what they knew about our language system and were willing to take ownership of it. The growing number of studies today support the teaching of writing as a natural process to help children develop their literacy skills. Teachers who are concerned about their students' ability to write need to deepen their understanding of this process. They need to analyze their current teaching practices. Effective spelling instruction requires environments which encourage children to read and write extensively. Teachers must engage pupils in cognitive activities that lead to spelling competency. Researchers should continue to investigate the effectiveness of invented spelling as an instructional approach to writing. More research is needed on the progressive development toward correct spelling for children using invented spelling.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

David W. Moore


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