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Collection: Word Prediction

purple arrow (1137 bytes)What is Word Prediction?

Word prediction is an "intelligent" word processing feature that can alleviate writing breakdowns for a range of students simply by reducing the number of keystrokes necessary for typing words.

Word prediction works like this. As a student types, the software monitors the input letter-by-letter, and produces a list of words beginning with the letter sequence recorded. Each time a letter is added, the list is updated. When the target word appears in the list, it can be chosen and inserted into the ongoing text with a single keystroke. (Typically word lists are numbered and words can be chosen by typing the corresponding number).

For example, let's assume that a student is writing the word "tomorrow." First she selects a "t" from her on-line keyboard and the following list of high frequency "t" words appears in the word prediction window:

screenshot of word prediction with one letter indicated

Since her target word did not appear in this list, the student selects the next letter "o" and the following list of "t-o" words appears:

screenshot showing word prediction with two letters indicated

Now that the target word has appeared in this list, the student simply selects the number 2 and the word "tomorrow" is inserted into the text with a space following. Altogether the number of selections to encode "tomorrow" has been reduced from nine to four.

Students with Motor Impairments

Many word prediction programs were first developed for students whose keyboarding skills were severely limited by their motor impairments. For students who cannot use the standard keyboard, alternate methods for selecting letters--switches, trackballs, head and mouthsticks--can be slow, increasing the gap between generating ideas and capturing them in writing. Word prediction can reduce this gap simply by reducing the number of selections necessary for encoding words.

Students with Learning Disabilities

Educators are beginning to see the power of word prediction for students with learning disabilities. Many students who are poor spellers avoid words they are unsure of and therefore have extremely limited writing vocabularies. Others are less constricted while composing, but find that spellcheckers frequently do not generate appropriate choices. Word prediction provides poor spellers on-line assistance, making the whole endeavor less stressful.

Word Prediction (Table of Contents)

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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. 

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.