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Collection: Word Prediction

purple arrow (1137 bytes)Increasing Literacy Levels by the Use of Linguistic Prediction

REFERENCES: Newell, A.F., Booth, L, Arnott, J, & Beattie, W. (1992). Increasing literacy levels by the use of linguistic prediction. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 8 (2), 138-187.

Newell, A.F., Arnott, J., Booth, L, Beattie, W., Brophy, B., & Ricketts, I.W. (1992). Effect of "PAL" word prediction system on the quality and quantity of text generation. Augmentative and Alternative Communication , 8, 304-311.

Description of Research

: In these articles, Newell et al. discuss their qualitative research on the benefits of word prediction for students with a variety of disabilities. Traditionally word prediction programs have been used as an augmentative communication strategy for students with severe speech and physical impairment. The authors postulate that word prediction can provide valuable assistance to a wide range of people with various levels of spelling and/or language dysfunction. They also postulate that in addition to providing rate enhancement and spelling assistance, word prediction can also promote language usage and general motivation for writing.

RESEARCH STUDY: The study was conducted in local schools by a special education teacher with assistance from classroom teachers and teaching assistants. Study participants included approximately 50 children with a wide range of educational needs who used PAL (Predictive Adaptive Lexicon), a word processing program with word prediction, over an 18-month period. PAL was introduced to each child individually and an individual work program was devised after an initial assessment. Some more advanced students used the program for exams and homework assignments in their high school content classes, while others with more serious language and/or development delays used it as a tool to increase written language output.

Students had varying configurations of primary physical disabilities, spelling difficulties and language delays. The group included one child with cerebral palsy, two with muscular dystrophy, one with Down syndrome, one with Lowe syndrome, one with Fragile X syndrome, and four without physical dysfunction. Three children were non-speaking, five had dysarthria (mild to severe),two had visual impairment and two had hearing impairment. Two were labeled "reluctant writers." Results consisted of comments and opinions of teachers solicited through structured questionnaires, as well as observations of researchers. The authors state, "These were supported by the results from some experimental probes which were applied by the research teacher at intervals during the study.

OUTCOMES/FINDINGS: Results are reported case-by-case. Generalized results over the studies included significant improvement on qualitative measures of "...independence and confidence, motivation, stimulation of language, speed of completing work, and learning." Some increase was reported in "...vocabulary size, concentration span, presentation and basic literacy, and accuracy of spelling." In addition, the authors reported a 70% reduction in spelling errors across subjects when using the word prediction program. A general improvement in motivation was attributed to improved spelling and quality of written work. It is important to note that the program did not prove effective for one student who had great difficulty shifting his attention between the keyboard, word lists and text itself.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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