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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


7 Great Online Tools To Improve Essay Writing Skills (Guest Post)

Categories: Spelling Resources |

Kenneth Waldman

Essay writing skills are imperative for success in any professional field or lifestyle choice. And whether you dream of working in advertising or accounting, or if you want to be a journalist or a business owner, it really makes no difference. Everyone benefits from honing his or her writing and communication skills.

Essays can be a daunting task for some. And individuals who have no desire to become a writer may not see the importance of perfecting their essay writing skills. However, it’s important to be able to communicate ideas and thoughts clearly, and writing skills work in conjunction with reading and listening skills. Overall communication is key, and forming educated and knowledgeable essays is essential to anyone’s future success.

Review the following 7 online sources to get started. You can begin writing better essays today, if you understand where you look. And regardless of where your skills are lacking, there is most likely a tool or software available to help. First, identify your own weaknesses, and then try using one of the tools listed below that best suits your specific needs.

Ultimate Spelling – This spelling resource can be used as a spellchecker, however it’s also a spelling teacher. Users can access spelling lists for study to increase their focus and productivity, as well as track and note their progress. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, as your spelling will drastically improve and you will begin to make fewer mistakes.  

Help.Plagracker – You never want to submit an essay that has copied material or improperly sited references. You will ruin your reputation and possibly your future academic and professional career. Double check documents before submitting them by using Plagtracker’s unique checking algorithm. Their scan can assure your work is always 100% unique.

NinjaEssays – This writing service is composed of highly qualified writers and professionals, and is a great place to gain one-on-one essay proofreading assistance. Their team can help with structure and format questions, as well as with overall readability and proofreading. And some may prefer this type of help, instead of an automated system or service.

Thesis Builder – The Thesis Builder from Tommarch is a free resource, however they do accept donations. Users can find and discover essay topics and gain useful advice on how to format and and create an effective thesis. The site also helps generate an outline and can be extremely helpful when starting the essay writing process.

Hemingway – This online editor and app offers users the ability to type directly on the site, or copy and paste text, and to receive a readability score in addition to highlighted suggestions for correction. The app, like Hemingway, focuses on using easy to read sentences, avoiding the overuse of adverbs and eliminating hard to read or repetitive language.

AskPetersen – This site offers access to everything you need to know for writing the best essays. Readers can obtain essay samples, study guides, educational articles, reviews and even posts on student Lifehacks and advice. The blogs cover other academic tools as well, and can be a great daily reference for any type of essay or writing assignment.  

Readabiltiy Test – This online source offers the ability to test the readability of a webpage or directly inputted text, and also offers a thorough report for reference. The tool has been featured in Mashable, Buffer and Design Shack and is useful for editing essays to be sure information is communicated properly.

With so much information available today and so many options, it can be hard to know where to start when seeking help. These useful websites, apps and editors are reputable and a great place to begin improving your essay writing skills. And they are a great point of reference whenever and wherever you feel stuck in the writing process.

Developing honed writing skills is simply important, whether you like it or not. And they will be a necessary skill to have throughout your entire life. Whether it is an academic paper or professional cover letter and resume, writing skills are used in all of our daily lives. And can make or break your success and future opportunities.

Take advantage of what technology and the web provide and use the tools listed above to your benefit. Remain motivated and confident, and understand you will have to put in the work. The tools will not write your essay for you, but they can definitely help push your essay writing skills to the next level.

Author: Kenneth Waldman is a professional content writer with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes education, marketing, freelancing. Get in touch with him on Twitter.

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