Learning to spell: development and evaluation of a spelling programme for Key Stage one

  • Sharon Elizabeth Anne McMurray

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This research considers the development and evaluation of a spelling programme for children of primary-school age. The Programme is designed to ensure that all the processes involved in learning to spell are activated and that the interaction between them is facilitated. In addition, a number of innovative features within the Programme’s design allow sources of spelling knowledge to be presented in a developmental sequence that allows all children to learn together, regardless of their ability.

    The impact of the Programme on progress, not only in spelling tests, but also in spelling accuracy and quality in independent writing was assessed by means of a longitudinal study with a 2 x 2 quasi-experimental design. The two independent variables were (i) Experimental school (intervention) or Control school (no intervention) and (ii) high or low social disadvantage. A sample of 81 children aged 5-6 years across the four schools were followed for three years from Year Two to Year Four. A range of quantitative measures were used for baseline assessment and to establish the quantifiable outcomes for children in both the Experimental (N=43) and the Control schools (N=38). Qualitative measures were used to illuminate the processes involved in the Programme in the Experimental schools. At the end of the study pupils who had been taught using the Programme had made significant improvement in spelling and independent writing. On the basis of the findings it is argued that spelling needs to be seen as an integral tool in raising standards in literacy and that it should not be taught in isolation from other literacy skills.
    Date of AwardDec 2004
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorRosemary Kirkpatrick (Supervisor)

    Cite this