When Should Fonnicks Be Tot to Kollage Stewdents
Yaworski, JoAnn, Journal of College Reading and Learning
A case study of a developmental college freshman shows a dramatic change in spelling over the course of several weeks after completing self-instruction materials on phonics. The inaccurate spelling patterns of common words undermined the content of Susan's literature journals and made instructors question her ability to succeed in college. After reading 30 simplistic explanations of phonetic spelling rules and completing the corresponding practice exercises, Susan's later journal entries showed fewer spelling errors with no spelling errors in the final entry. This case gives us hope for adults with poor spelling habits and solicits suggestions from college instructors who work with students having similar problems with spelling.
College instructors have been sheltered from the "Great Debate" on the teaching of phonics since, typically, instruction in this area has proven to be overkill after the third grade. However, periodically students who could benefit from this type of instruction do appear in college reading classes.
The misspelling of common words can undermine the content of a piece and make an intelligent person's writing seem juvenile. Furthermore, extremely poor spelling may cause instructors to question a student's ability to succeed at earning a bachelor's degree. Adults exhibiting poor spelling patterns often times label themselves as either dyslexic or just simply "poor spellers" and believe there is no hope for improvement. This particular case study highlights one such student.
Susan, a quiet and soft-spoken college freshman, was enrolled at a midsized university in the North Atlantic region. Like many of the 1.6 million students enrolled in learning strategies courses across the nation (Altschuler, 2000), Susan's high school record indicated that she had "potential," but would need academic support in college. She was among the 120 students chosen from 800 applicants to be in the university's Academic Development Program. This placement required her to take remedial courses in reading, math, and English during an intensive summer session, followed by a 3-credit college reading course during the fall semester. There were no records either from the university or from the student indicating the presence of a learning disability.
Part of the requirements for the fall reading course was to read the novel, One Child by Torey L. Hayden (1980) and write a response journal consisting of 20 entries, one for each chapter. Each entry included a summary of the chapter, a response, and support for the response based on information given in the chapter. From these journal responses, the researcher began to see spelling problems that undermined the content. The spelling patterns of many words in Susan's response journal resembled those of elementary children in the invented spelling stage. Because the words were so badly misspelled, it was often fruitless for Susan to either use a dictionary or use the spell check on a computer. The following sentences from her journals exemplify this problem:
* I will defiantly read this book again.
* To everyone's suppress, they won.
First of all, spell check could not call up these words because they are not misspelled. Although spelled correctly, they are not the words that Susan meant to use. Secondly, the problem with using a dictionary is shown by Susan's spelling of the word "surprise." She could not find it in the dictionary because she was looking for the third letter of the word to be a "p." She did not look on the page of the dictionary that has words beginning with "sur" because she did not realize that "surprise" has an "r" in the third slot.
According to Bear and Templeton (1998), there are five stages of spelling development: emergent spelling, letter name spelling, within-word pattern spelling, syllables and affixes spelling, and derivational relations spelling. …