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.

Nov
4th

Homeschool Tools From Kim Sorgius And www.TheHomeschoolVillage.com

Categories: PSAT/SAT and GED Tests, Spelling Resources |

Parents who are thinking about homeschooling need a place to start looking for resources, planning tools, curriculum development, and study guides. Parents who are already homeschooling need a place where they can find the latest innovations and fresh ideas for activities and exercises to keep learning fun and meaningful as the years go by. And every homeschooling parent needs a place to connect with other families to share what works, and what doesn’t work – or maybe to just get a word of encouragement when it’s needed. This supportive and helpful environment is what Kim Sorgius provides at www.TheHomeschoolVillage.com.

US: You said that you’ve just started as of January this year as the editor of the website. Were you involved with the homeschooling website before this as well, or just with your personal website?

KS: Prior to January, I was a contributing writer at the Homeschool Village and a few other homeschool sites. I also wrote daily (and still do) at www.notconsumed.com which is a website for all parents. I write there about homeschooling at least once a week.

US: For many families, the decision to homeschool is only possibly because one parent stays home to teach while the other parent goes out to earn the family income. When it’s a single-parent household, how does homeschooling work out?

KS: Homeschooling as a single mom is no easy task. I’ve known moms who have worked all night and schooled during the day just to make it work. For me, I work from home during the day. My primary source of income is blogging, social media, and consulting work online. I have a very tight schedule everyday in order to make this work, but God has always provided enough!

US: Parents who choose to homeschool often come from a background of conventional public education, so they grew up with classrooms, schedules, recess breaks, and cafeteria lunches. How much of this format is transferred over to homeschooling?

KS: Being a former public school teacher, this was one of the most difficult hurdles for me to overcome. It’s tempting to try and make homeschool look like the classroom, but it usually ends in a dismal mess! We school at the kitchen table, so there is no “classroom” in the traditional sense. Really the whole house is our classroom. Everything we do is a learning experience. However, we do have “formal” or written learning… usually, between 9am and noon. If something comes up during that time, it’s no big deal. We’ve been known to school at the doctor’s office, the park, or even on weekends. As far as recess goes, there are no complaints here. On a typical day, my children have the entire afternoon to explore their own interests and usually that is done outside.

US: When you teach, do you have separate times and sessions for spelling, for history, for biology, or for any other topic, or do you use a more integrated approach that touches on multiple educational areas at the same time?

KS: The answer to this question varies by age. When students are younger, I think that an integrated approach is a wonderful way to teach. There is nothing like authentic literature to create a lifelong love of learning. The exception to this is spelling/reading and math. Beginning around 1st grade, I pull out a systematic approach that teaches reading through spelling. Once the student is a solid reader, I move back to the integrated approach. For math, I always keep the subjects separate.

US: Do you have any resources you would recommend for parents who need a good lesson plan for teaching spelling?

KS: I’m not sure how you would like me to answer this question. I have used several great programs and could recommend a few based on a family’s particular needs. However, that would be in direct competition to yours I believe. Since I have not heard of 7spell until you send me this email. :-)

Leave a comment

Have your say!

name *

email *

message *