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.


Can You Spell These 11 Least-Known Words?

Categories: About Spelling, Words That Are Hard to Spell |

Aahhh … don’t you love the English language? It’s full of fancy words. Words that are tricky, words that are unpredictable – words that I can almost guarantee you will misspell.

The Center of Reading Research has looked into the English words that people are the least familiar with, using an online vocabulary test offered by Ghent University.

The participants had to press the “J” key if the word flashing before their eyes on the computer screen was a proper English word, and the “F” key if they didn’t know the word. Fewer than 3 in every 100 participants knew words like gossypol and alsike. Are you one of these people?

Here are the definitions of some of these obscure words. Be sure to learn their correct spelling in case you ever need to use them!

chersonese” – This word comes from the Greek “??????????” which means peninsula. A peninsula is a piece of land that has one of its four sites connected to the mainland of a territory while the other three are bordered by water.

dasyure” – According to the website, dasyure is “any of several nocturnal, carnivorous marsupials of the genus Dasyurus and related genera, of Australia, Tasmania, and nearby islands, typically having a reddish or olive-brown coat marked with white spots.”

pyknic” – This is not an archaic spelling of the word “picnic.” According to the Oxford dictionary, “pyknic” is etymologically derived from the Greek word “??????” which means thick. It describes any living species with a tendency to get fat and have a “stocky physique or a rounded body and head.”

kalian” – A word of Persian origin, it refers to a Persian tobacco pipe that has the smoke go through water before drawing and inhaling the smoke. You might be more familiar with the terms “Hookah” or “Shisha”, the waterpipe use for smoking tobacco.

Yogh” – This is a phonological term that describes a palatal fricative widely used in Middle English. Its sound approximates the Modern English sound of the semivowel “y” as in the word“young.”

didapper” – The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines didapper as “a dabchick or other small grebe.” It’s the shortened form of dive-dapper.

ossify” – The process of making something impermeable to change. The word means to become hard like a bone, or to transform into bone.

stibnite” – The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers this word definition for stibnite: “a mineral that consists of the trisulfide of antimony and occurs in orthorhombic lead-gray crystals of metallic luster or in massive form.”

“penurious” – This is what many young people are by the end of each month: extremely poor or poverty-stricken. It also means parsimonious, having an unwillingness to spend money, or being stingy.

skullduggery” (also written with one “l”) – defines “skullduggery” as trickery; it’s an informal word used to describe an underhanded deal.

brummagem” – This is a word that refers the English dialect spoken in Birmingham, or just relating to the city of Birmingham as a whole.

There you have it! 11 obscure words you can learn to spell, and impress everyone with your spelling knowledge!

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