Beyond the Rainbow: Retrieval Practice Leads to Better Spelling than does Rainbow Writing
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In three experiments, we compared the effectiveness of rainbow writing and retrieval practice, two common methods of spelling instruction. In experiment 1 (n = 14), second graders completed 2 days of spelling practice, followed by spelling tests 1 day and 5 weeks later. A repeated measures analysis of variance demonstrated that spelling accuracy for words trained with retrieval practice was higher than for words trained with rainbow writing on both tests (η p 2 = .49). In experiments 2 (second graders, n = 16) and 3 (first graders, n = 12), students completed 2 days of spelling practice followed by a spelling test 1 day later. Results replicated experiment 1; spelling accuracy was higher for words trained with retrieval practice compared with rainbow writing (η p 2 = .42 and .64, respectively). Furthermore, students endorsed both liking and learning from retrieval practice at least as much as (and sometimes more than) rainbow writing. Results demonstrate that retrieval practice is a more useful (and as engaging) training method than is rainbow writing and extend the well-established testing effect to beginning spellers.
KeywordsSpelling Instruction Retrieval practice Testing effect Emergent literacy
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders [3RO1DC011 492]. We would like to thank Melissa Bishop, Dasom Kim, Soo Lee, and Brenda Wu for assistance with data collection.
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