Emma Jackson teaches English in a Swansea Valleys secondary school.
Her research looks at the number and nature of spelling errors in Year 8 pupils’ work. The base-line data revealed that the number of repeated spelling errors carried over from 1st drafts to 2nd drafts was high. An investigation was undertaken regarding the absence of self-correction by pupils and ways to improve engagement with written feedback on spelling. Several factors were deemed important for engagement with written feedback, particularly the extent to which pupils valued the feedback.
An intervention was designed using the formative approach of a spelling journal to show pupils that written feedback is part of the learning process. The impact of the spelling journal was assessed via comparison of the number of repeated spelling mistakes made between 1st and 2nd drafts of the base-line piece of work (article) and the intervention piece of work (story).
It was found that the number of repeated spelling mistakes reduced significantly for most pupils between 1st and 2nd drafts during the intervention. Additionally, the number of overall spelling mistakes in the 1st and the 2nd drafts reduced.
However, a questionnaire was used to gauge pupil opinion of the spelling journal which found that the spelling journal was not received positively by all pupils, particularly not for the more able pupils.
Therefore, the spelling journal may have had a role in this reduction, but many other factors were needed to interpret the results. It is likely that pupil perception of written feedback improved significantly due to sharing this goal with the pupils, who immediately demonstrated increased engagement with written feedback after being told about the purpose of the investigation.
© Emma Jackson January 2016