The Science

7spell is scientifically designed, and utilizes principles based on decades of research in learning, retention, and psychology. Here is a summary of the theory and research behind 7spell's effectiveness.

Craik, F., and Tulving, E. "Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 104(3) (1975): 268-294. Print and PDF. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.104.3.268

In this seminal study performed at the University of Toronto, Canada, the authors performed a series of tests in which they gave the study participants a sequence of words to learn, with information related to each word as it appeared in order. They discovered that when the information provided stimulated the participant's brain to process the word on a more involved level (referred to as "deep encoding" or "degree of elaboration" in the study), that word was more effectively learned and remembered. With 7spell, the user is given a wide range of additional information about each spelling word, including the word's definition - one of the key factors in enhanced memory, according to this study - as well as usage examples, synonyms, and antonyms.

Gelman, B.D., Gruber, M.J., and Ranganath, C. "States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit." Neuron, 22 October 2014, 84(2): 486-496. Web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060

Students who are eager to learn are more likely to remember what they have learned, something that the authors of this study demonstrate. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show real-time connections between a person's curiosity about a specific topic, and the production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and the brain's reward system. The authors also concluded that a higher level of interest and curiosity in a topic or question leads to better memory and enhanced learning. Including exercises that stimulate curiosity, and providing reward mechanisms as part of the study process, also increases a person's ability to absorb and retain information, as the researchers found. 7spell has a text import feature that allows each user to include and incorporate practice material that matches their interests, while learning the spelling of words in those texts. The system also uses several different reward systems to encourage users to continue working towards their defined goals.

Garcia, S.M., Tor, A., and Schiff, T.M. "The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective." Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2013, 8(6):634-650. Print and web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1745691613504114

Each person is influenced by a unique set of factors related to their own status and progress towards goals, but is also affected to a greater or lesser degree by the achievements and perceived standards of the people around them. This analysis of past and current studies looks at the way people view and are motivated by individual goals as well as societal achievement (competition). The authors conclude that effective use of motivational strategies must take both into account. This is something that 7spell accomplishes by providing each user with the ability to set personal goals, earn reward points, and view their own progress tracking reports, and also to publish all of those results on public social media platforms.

Kivetz, R., Urminsky, O., and Zheng, Y. "The Goal-Gradient Hypothesis Resurrected: Purchase Acceleration, Illusionary Goal Progress, and Customer Retention." Journal of Marketing Research, February 2006, 43(1):39-58. Web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jmkr.43.1.39

In a study focusing on the influence of reward-scheme programs on behavior, the authors found that when people see visible progress towards their goals they are more likely to increase the activity required to reach those goals. The study also confirms that most people are also motivated by receiving rewards for completing specific activities, even if those rewards are not immediately transferable to actual material or monetary benefits. Status points, rewards, and real-time progress tracking are all methods used in 7spell to encourage frequent spelling practice by awarding points for the completion of exercises and activities. Because the user can access their progress charts at any time, they will always be able to see how close they are to achieving their personal spelling goals.

Buton, M., Winterbauer, N., and Todd, T. "Relapse processes after the extinction of instrumental learning: Renewal, resurgence, and reacquisition." Behavioural Processes, May 2012, 90(1): 130–141. Print and web. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.004

Instrumental learning, also called "operant conditioning," is a method by which behaviors are learned in connection with a stimulus, a reward, or both. In this research done at the University of Vermont, the authors studied the ways in which the information connected to a specific behavior is retained when the stimulus is removed, and how subsequent repetition or reward reinforces information recall and a resumption of previously learned behaviors. They conclude that there are two primary methods of reinforcing active memory and behavior: by creating a different way to test the subject's memory, and by providing the opportunity for intensive focused repetition of that stimulus-behavior response. These two methods are widely used in the 7spell activities and games to create the link between instruction and memory that is so crucial in effective spelling learning on the student's part.

Xue, G., Mei, L., Chen, C., Lu, Z-L., Poldrack, R., Dong, Q. "Spaced Learning Enhances Subsequent Recognition Memory by Reducing Neural Repetition Suppression." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 2011;23(7):1624-1633. Print and web. http://doi:10.1162/jocn.2010.21532

In this study comparing long-term and short-term memory, the study authors tested the neural activity of participants as they memorized a set of images. Half of the study participants used massed learning techniques, in which each new image was presented multiple times in a row; the other half were given the images in a spaced repetition mode, where the images were shown in alternating order. Although each participant saw each image the same number of times, the people in the spaced-repetition exercise were able to accurately remember more images, and for a longer period of time. Repetition is a key technique in learning spelling, and 7spell incorporates spaced repetition in two ways. First, the system uses randomized selection of spelling words from the user's current list to populate the activities and exercises, ensuring an interval between word reviews. Second, the system's Word Discover feature provides pop-up instant review of the words on that list, again in random order. By providing users with multiple opportunities throughout the day to read and review their words, 7spell provides all of the benefits of the spaced repetition methodology in its spelling instruction.

Blocki, J., Cranor, L., Datta, A., and Komanduri, S. "Spaced Repetition and Mnemonics Enable Recall of Multiple Strong Passwords." Cornell University Library, January 3, 2015. PDF. http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.1490v2

Spaced repetition is a memory training tool that relies on frequent and consistent review of information; mnemonics is a memory technique that involves multiple ways of looking at that information, such as the incorporation of images or story lines. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University focused on the combination of spaced repetition and mnemonics in evaluating how best to train people to remember specific pieces of information: computer passwords. They found that by combining the two methodologies, the results in both ease of learning and retention were increased. 7spell uses each method separately and together to help users learn and remember new spelling words by using the same words in multiple exercises, presenting spelling words in a variety of formats, and encouraging users to add information related to each word to make a personal connection that helps them to remember that word and its correct spelling.

Sep
29th

6 Most Common Writing Errors and How to Fix Them

Categories: About Spelling, Spelling Resources, Tips and Tricks |

Brenda Savoie


You might not give it much importance, but communicating through writing is still an essential skill in today’s fast-paced world. Even with large technological advances, people still need to be mindful of how they communicate with others through their writing.

In fact, it’s because of our very interconnected lives through the Internet that we’re writing to each other more than ever. Despite fast ways of messaging our friends and work colleagues, taking the time to meticulously proofread every sentence is an important task.

And don’t leave it up to autocorrect to do the job. More often than not, even smart tech can lead to disastrous mistakes. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

Here are 6 common writing mistakes that are easiest to spot – and how you can fix them:

Spelling Errors

Some spelling errors can easily go by unnoticed. Just because you feel like a word you’ve written looks right, doesn’t mean it’s actually right.

There are a number of ways to go about and find and correct these errors. Some people employ the use of autocorrect – but as we’ve already established, even that can result in unwanted and awkward mistakes. Other grammar-checking apps like Grammarly might be more accurate.

But in terms of manually spotting and correcting awkward mistakes, there’s no other way but to train your brain. Check out common English spelling mistakes and see if you find any familiar errors you’ve made in the past.

You can even make it fun and make use of memory tricks to help it stick to you. Otherwise, here’s a quick list of often misspelled words, and their correct counterparts:

1) Tomorrow – often misspelled as tommorrow, tomorow, or tommorrow

2) Receive – often misspelled as recieve

3) Commission – often misspelled as comision, comission, or commision

Commas vs. Periods

Punctuation plays a vital role in how our sentences are read. Imagine reading a sentence with no stops! That’s why proper punctuation is important in sentence construction.

Unfortunately, the most common punctuations are also those most often misused. For this example, we identify the comma as too often used as a replacement for the period.

Note the difference – a comma is for a short breath, while a period is for a longer pause to separate two independent clauses. Still not sure how to go about it?

Consider these samples to see the difference between comma and period use:

Comma: The nineteenth century, which has seen quite a handful of geniuses in its time, was a colorful era.

Period: The nineteenth century was a colorful era. It has seen quite a handful of geniuses in its time.

In the comma’s example, the clause following the subject (“which has seen quite a handful of geniuses in its time”) is a dependent clause. If you wrote it as a separate sentence, it would not make sense.

However, re-written as an independent clause, it can be separated from the rest of the sentence, as we see in the example for the period use.

Misplaced Apostrophes

Another commonly misused punctuation mark is the apostrophe. An apostrophe has one main function: to contract words. Oftentimes, this function of the apostrophe is mixed up with the possessive pronoun.

For instance, it’s is written instead of its. In this example, the former is actually a contraction of two words – it and is. On the other hand, the latter is a possessive pronoun meaning the thing belonging to it.

The best way to correct this mistake is to catch yourself whenever you are about to type this tricky word. Consider what your intention is – is it to contract two separate words? If so, go on. Or is it to indicate a possessive pronoun? Then don’t do it.

Sometimes apostrophes are also used as possessives, but often for proper and common nouns, rather than pronouns. As an example, “Hannah’s” uses an apostrophe, but is not a contraction of “Hannah” and another word. Instead, it is also a possessive. But in this case, “Hannah” is a proper noun, and not a pronoun like “it” in the previous example.

Unclear Comparisons

This next point is actually a usually overlooked writing mistake that it’s become common to the point of normality. Unclear comparisons end in hanging sentences. They introduce a thought but leave it hanging mid-sentence.

For example: “I like tea better.”

It sounds like a complete thought, but the statement above is actually uncertain. The author clearly intended to compare tea to something, but did not specify what that something was.

When faced with this dilemma, always ask yourself: what am I comparing my subject to? This could give you a better perspective on what you’re trying to say.

As an improvement on our example, a better sentence would be: “I like tea better than coffee.”

Now we know what the writer is comparing the subject “tea” to.

Passive Voice

Passive voice is rarely used in sentences outside formal composition. If you want to give your reader a sense of action and movement, don’t use this at all costs.

But what’s the difference between a passive and active voice, and what effect will it really have on people?

Consider the following sentences and see for yourself:

Passive voice: “A pen was placed on the table.”

Active voice: “Denver placed a pen on the table.”

A clear sense of action by an actor is made in a sentence with an active voice. This is often preferable over a bland and overly formal tone of a passive voice.

Awkward Word Choice

Awkward word choices can be difficult to detect as well simply because we have varying definitions of awkwardness for different people across different cultures. But if you already know who you’re writing for, refining your choice of words can greatly help in delivering the point home and clarifying your intentions.

Note the difference in the two sentences:

1) Kill the water to save energy.

2) Turn off the water to save energy.

In hindsight it seems that both sentences have the same meaning, but we know that the second sentence is the more widely accepted term.

It may be difficult to get past this at first, since it will require a lot of feeling around context on your part, but with plenty of practice and time, you’ll be able to master the art of elegant composition as well!


Author’s Bio

Brenda Savoie is a grammar tutor at Essayontime which provides online assistance to students and supports them. A private English tutor and desperate dreamer. Writing her first romantic novel. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.