Dr Lynsey O'Rourke

Associate Researcher and Psychology Demonstrator

Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development

Lynsey O'Rourke


Lynsey's research interests lie broadly in the area of developing and maintaining reading and writing skills. Her current research focuses on understanding how the use of spellcheck impacts writing for individuals with and without dyslexia. She recently completed her PhD 'Investigating the impact of spellcheck on writing for students with and without dyslexia', supervised by Prof.Vince Connelly, Prof. Anna Barnett and Dr. Olivia Afonso (thesis submitted in August 2019, viva in December 2019).

Lynsey has been teaching on a variety of modules in the Psychology degree programme since starting her PhD and began teaching full-time in July 2019 as a Psychology Demonstrator. Lynsey has also been employed in multiple research assistant roles since 2013 and continues to contribute to research projects as a research associate. 

Prior to her research roles, Lynsey completed her Psychology Bachelors degree at Oxford Brookes in 2013 (first class, Hons). As part of this degree she completed the research project 'Extended-writing practice appears to maintain handwriting automaticity in adults' which, along with her dissertation supervisor, Prof. Vince Connelly, she published in 2014. 

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

Lynsey has taught on a variety of modules for the Psychology undergraduate program, including:

  • Foundations of Developmental Psychology
  • Foundations of Cognitive Psychology
  • Foundations of Social Psychology
  • Psychology and Contemporary Issues
  • Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology
  • Introduction to Psychological Research
  • Advanced Statistics and Experimental Methods for Psychology
  • Research Design Skills


Investigating the impact of spellcheck on writing for students with and without dyslexia.

Supervised by Prof. Vince Connelly, Prof. Anna Barnett and Dr.Olivia Afonso

It is typically assumed that spellcheck provides a positive boost to the writing process, particularly for those who struggle with spelling, such as individuals with dyslexia. However, questionnaire results suggest that the red underline, which automatically appears under misspelled words, actually interrupts writing and, for students with dyslexia, also disrupts their train of thought.  

Texts produced with and without spellcheck were compared for both groups of students. Spellcheck does not appear to impact text quality. However, it does increase corrections of spelling errors. Disruptions to text production could be caused by correction behaviour.

When faced with a spelling error, the most efficient correction behaviour is to complete the sentence being written before correcting that error. Typing behaviours revealed that, when faced with a spelling error without an underline, students with and without dyslexia corrected it immediately (less efficient correction behaviour) in only 10% of trials. However, when the error is underlined, this behaviour occurred in 45% of trials.

Spellcheck encouraged immediate error correction, which is disruptive to writing. Spellcheck has a larger effect on students with dyslexia than students without, which could explain the disruption to thought that students with dyslexia experience. In natural writing situations, because students with dyslexia have more corrections to make, the quantitative difference in error corrections could increase this disruption further. 

Research group membership

Lynsey is part of the writing research group within the psychology department.

Research grants and awards

  • Jan 2018, Santander continuation fee grant £1,197
  • Jan 2017, Santander student project grant £500. As a contribution towards costs involved in attending and presenting at the international conference ‘Writing Research Across Borders’, hosted by Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogota, Columbia).
  • Oct 2016, European Literacy Network, Training School Financial Support €540. Used to attend eye tracking training course hosted by Centre for Applied Neuroscience University of Cyprus (Cyprus)
  • March 2015, European Literacy Network, Trainee Grant €675. Used to attend a keystroke logging training course hosted by Antwerp University (Belgium)
  • Sept 2014 - June 2017, Nigel Groome and Oxford Brookes University Studentship



slide 1 of 6

Professional information


  • O’Rourke, L. Connelly, V., Barnett, A. L., & Afonso, O. (2017) Investigating the impact of spellcheck on the writing behaviours of writers with and without dyslexia. Presented at the conference of the International Society for the Advancement of Writing Research, entitled: Writing Research Across Borders (WRAB), that was hosted by Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogota, Columbia) in February 2017.
  • O’Rourke, L. Connelly, V., Barnett, A. L., & Afonso, O. (2017) The impact of spellcheck on the writing behaviours of writers with and without dyslexia. Poster presented at the postgraduate symposium at Oxford Brookes University, in January 2017
  • O’Rourke, L., Connelly, V., & Barnett, A. L. (2016), Investigating the interruptions of spellcheck to writing for individuals with and without dyslexia, presented at European Association for Research in Learning and Instruction: special interest group: Writing. Hosted by Liverpool Hope University, in June 2016
  • O’Rourke, L., Connelly, V., & Barnett, A. L.  (2015) The use of spell check by students with and without dyslexia, and the impact on text quality and writing behaviours. Presented at the postgraduate symposium, at Oxford Brookes University in January 2015