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. In experimental conditions, spellcheck did not have a larger effect on students with dyslexia than students without. However in natural writing situations, because students with dyslexia have more corrections to make, the quantitative difference in error corrections could explain the disruption to thought that students with dyslexia experience.
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