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.

Oct
9th

Enhancing Writing Capacities: Principles & Resources

Categories: Spelling Resources, Uncategorized |

Kenneth Waldman



There are numerous professions where the ability to write is absolutely essential. Novelists, journalists, lawyers, freelance writers, managers, teachers, college students, you name it. It is fair to say that writing, and writing well, requires at least a modicum of talent. But writing, just like any other skills, can be improved and polished until it has reached a certain level of quality.  

In the past, an individual needed to put in a lot of time and effort to perfect their writing skills, but today, there is a whole myriad of different tools, techniques and apps which can improve your writing almost instantly.

The writing process can be divided into 5 different stages, or elements. We have provided you with a list of all the best writing tools and resources for each of the 5 stages. Keep on reading.

Brainstorming

The first stage of every writing process involves digging through the chaos inside your mind and finding an idea which has some value. You can do it the old-fashioned way, by using just a pen and some paper, or you can rely on one of the following tools:

      MindNode. This online resource relies on the mind mapping technique in order to help the writer come up with useful ideas and concepts. The entire process is represented graphically, which makes it really easy to get a hang of.

      FreeMind. FreeMind is somewhat similar to MindNode, because it relies on the use graphics for mind mapping, but it can also be used to keep track of all your projects, as well as all your research data, bookmarks and notes. You can use the notes to create your own knowledge database which you can dip into whenever you need an idea.

      The Story Starter. Sometimes, the only thing you need to get your creative juices flowing is that first sentence, and this is exactly what The Story Starter does. It generates a random starter sentence which you need to get the ball rolling.

      Writing.com. This location is one of the top online communities which gathers thousands of writers into one place, and offers a whole multitude of different tool, tips and techniques to improve your writing, as well as a creative environment which is guaranteed to kick-start your inspiration.

Research

Once you have your ideas and your topics figured out, before you can start writing, you need to start doing research on the subject. Unless the topic you are writing about just happens to be your field of expertise, you will have to dedicate some time to research different sources and gather all the necessary data. For instance, even if you are writing your autobiography, you still need to consult people that are close to you that were there when certain events occurred in your life.

If you are looking for online resources, check out the following locations:

     LibrarySpot. LibrarySpot is a free online data resource center which lets you search libraries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, research studies, paper, and so on. If you are looking for information on just about anything, we advise you to start here.

     Google Scholar. If Google isn’t turning up any useful results, try Google Scholar, which is Google’s search engine designed to index and search scholarly content based on both metadata and full texts. Its database contains around 160 million documents!

     Encyclopaedia Britannica. One of the largest encyclopedias in history needs no special introduction. With Nobel Prize winners among its contributors, it’s hard to beat in terms of quality.

     Project Gutenberg. What started off as a volunteer project back in 1971 become one of the largest digital libraries in the world, with almost 50,000 public domain titles available for reading and downloading in popular formats.

Writing

In order to enhance your writing, you are going to need a good text editor, and several reputable resources which can help both with practical advice on how to improve your writing, as well as high quality work by the best writers online:

     Write My Essay. If are looking for practical advice on how to write papers and essays, you can find plenty of it on this website. Furthermore, you can get in touch with professional writers and ask for custom guidance, or even commission an essay and see how it should be done.

     yWriter. If you are using a standard text editor like Microsoft Word and you’re writing a novel, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed because you won’t be able to keep track of all the notes, footnotes, and chapters. yWriter, on the other hand, was conceived with that in mind. The best thing about it is that it was designed by an author, and it definitely shows.

     Google Docs. For those who prefer to write using different platforms, without having to carry their work around with them, Google Docs is probably the best solution, because you can synchronize all your work and access it from anywhere, using anything. Those that are familiar with Microsoft Office or OpenOffice will feel right at home here.

Proofreading

No written work is complete before it’s properly formatted, checked for spelling errors, and proofread for other mistakes. Luckily, this particular segment of the writing process is rich with high-quality tools and services that will assist you in proofreading your documents and check them for plagiarism:

     Hemingway App. Ernest Hemingway was a master of saying a lot with as very few words as possible. This app won’t help you write like Hemingway, but it will improve the readability of your work, by breaking down overly long and complex sentences.

     Merriam-Webster Dictionary. If you are not sure about how some word is spelled, or if you don’t like to rely on your text editor to find spelling errors, Merriam-Webster Dictionary is your go-to destination, not just because it’s owned by Britannica, but because it is one of the best online dictionaries out there, hands down.

     Grammarly. Hunting for spelling errors is relatively easy with the help of dictionary, but finding grammar mistakes in your work and correcting them is a lot more complex issue, and that’s why recommend you check out Grammarly. It is a powerful online tool which will analyze the structure of your sentences, detect plagiarism and provide suggestion on how to improve your texts, among other things.

Publishing

Unless you have a book deal signed with a publisher, chances are you will be publishing your work online, on a blog, or a website. There are several excellent blogging platforms on the web, but the following two are the most popular:

     WordPress. Want a professional-looking blog or a website created in a matter of hours? Go with this one. WordPress has so many features it’s impossible to name them all in a single article.

     Blogger. Does pretty much what WordPress does, so if you don’t like WordPress, give Blogger a shot, and vice versa.

If you work hard enough and dedicate yourself, with the help of these tools, you will be able to elevate your writing skills within a relatively short time frame.

Remember that the best tool in your toolbox is your own talent, and these apps are just here to shine a spotlight on it. Start becoming a better writer today.

Author: Kenneth Waldman, a freelance writer and English tutor. Get in touch with him on Linkedin.


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