The mnemonic value of orthography among beginning readers

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Abstract

The mnemonic value of spellings in a paired-associate sound learning task was examined in 4 experiments. 120 1st and 2nd graders were taught 4 CVC nonsense sounds as oral responses. The stimuli were geometric figures or numbers of alphabet letters corresponding to initial consonant sounds. Various types of adjunct aids or activities occurred during study and feedback periods as the learning trials progressed. Visual spellings or misspellings of the CVC sounds were shown, or Ss imagined visual spellings, or they listened to oral spellings or to sounds broken into phonetic segments, or they rehearsed the sounds. Spellings were not present during test trials when sounds were recalled. In all experiments, sound learning was fastest when correct spellings were seen or imagined. The preferred interpretation is that spellings are effective because they provide readers with orthographic images useful for symbolizing and storing sounds in memory. Spelling-aided sound learning scores were highly correlated with Ss' knowledge of printed words, indicating that this representational process may be used by beginning readers to store printed words in lexical memory. (22 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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