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.


Matthew Scott Provides Valuable Information At

Categories: Spelling Resources, Tips and Tricks |

Parents know that helping children grow up to be successful is a long process that requires a lot of work – and adults know that the search for success rarely stops! In order to reach goals and realize dreams, children and adults alike need the skills to get them to the next level, and that’s where Matthew can help. His site,, brings together information on how to develop valuable skills and abilities in a variety of fields: communication, spelling and writing, time management, and even health and exercise. We talked to Matthew about how his site can help people of all ages find the resources they need.

US: Here at 7spell we tend to focus on helping children learn to spell, but your site points out the fact that basic grammar and spelling skills are important for adults as well. With all of the other means of communication these days, why are writing skills still necessary?

MS: It is a misconception that writing skills are somehow less important now than they were in the past. Over the last decade there has been an unprecedented rise in the amount of written information available and the number of ‘authors’ producing this information. Gone are the days when publishing was the job of professional writers, now anybody can contribute information to potentially large audiences, quickly and inexpensively. We’ve all seen examples of poor spelling and grammar online, on websites, in forum posts on Facebook. Writing errors can be costly and embarrassing because they reduce the effectiveness of your message and your credibility.

Good writing skills are not just important to our personal and social lives online but in many work environments too. Even if you are not writing emails to shareholders or the SEO, producing press releases or marketing materials, writing skills still play a part in many job roles. You are less likely to get employed in the first place if your résumé or CV is poorly written and peppered with common mistakes that you could have easily learned to correct or avoid.

It is a mistake to be over-reliant on spelling and grammar checkers. The author of the webpage, ‘Pubic Houses on the Isle of Wight’ used a spellchecker, his page went viral for all the wrong reasons! Before you click the ‘post’ or ‘send’ button are you sure that your message says what you intended? You never know who might see it.

US: You’ve got a shocking statistic on your site about numeracy, the ability to calculate and handle numbers, and how few adults have that skill. Your site explains basic math concepts, but many people learn best through doing exercises. Are you planning on adding interactive games or exercises to give people practice in doing math?

MS: We are currently developing the numeracy skills section of SkillsYouNeed, having been encouraged by the amount of positive feedback from our readers. In the UK a lot of research has been done into the most effective ways of teaching numeracy to children and adults. It can be difficult for people to get motivated to learn mathematics if they cannot see obvious and immediate benefits for themselves. As we develop our new content we will include more real-life examples of how numeracy skills can help in everyday situations – from saving money at the supermarket, time management and understanding our environment. We also plan to publish a series of eBooks in the future which will include exercises and examples.

US: Your site has quite a few pages devoted to stress management, time management, and anger management – it seems that the fast-paced 21st-century lifestyle has its problems as well as its advantages. What are the three most important things that people can do to keep their cool in the heat of the moment?

MS: Stress and stress-related complaints are very costly in modern society. It is estimated that workplace stress costs US employers $200 billion per year. In the UK 2011/2012 figures estimate that 10.4 million work days were lost due to stress-related problems. The cost is not just financial, high levels of stress can have long-term detrimental effects on our health, ranging from headaches and indigestion to depression, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

Personal stress management is therefore an important skill that we should all take seriously and work on developing. There are, however, no ‘one-size-fits-all’ golden rules to stress management, as everybody handles stress and potentially stressful situations differently. The key to successfully managing stress is learning about yourself and recognising your personal strengths and weaknesses. This should include:

Setting yourself realistic goals. A lot of personal stress can stem from unrealistic goals that we set ourselves. It is important, therefore, that personal goals are realistic, we all need to be aware of our own capabilities, utilise our strengths and develop our weaknesses.

Learn to say no or delegate. Many of us are guilty of taking on too much – by doing this we often set ourselves up to fail or not complete tasks satisfactory. Learning to say no can be difficult but it is sometimes important to do so – as can asking for help from others or delegating tasks.

Take time to relax and look after yourself. Learning to relax is an essential skill and often, as we get more stressed, we find it harder to relax properly. It is important to break the stress cycle and learn how to relax. See this page for information on relaxation techniques.

US: Someone who has a low-level office job without a lot of outside contact might not think they need to develop good presentation skills since they don’t use them for work. How can a person’s daily life benefit from learning these skills, whether work-related or not?

MS: People tend to think of presentation skills as the skills we need to stand in front of an audience and, with the help of PowerPoint, deliver a dynamic and engaging performance. This is true but presentation skills are also important in less formal, everyday settings.

Presentations are planned communications. Presentation skills are the skills we need to develop and structure our thoughts and ideas, to plan what we are going to say and how we are going to say it. An effective presenter will have carefully considered their ideas and the points they wish to raise, they will be knowledgeable in their subject and will try to anticipate the questions and feedback they may receive from the people or person they are presenting to. The application of such skills can be beneficial to everybody, personally and professionally, regardless of status.

There are many examples of how well-honed presentation skills can be important in less formal settings. At work perhaps you will need to present some new information to a line manager or to a group of colleagues in a meeting. Socially, you may belong to a club or society and need to present your ideas, or perhaps you’ll be asked to give a talk. Even at home, it may be beneficial to carefully plan and prepare what you want to say, when organising a party or trip, for example.

US: It seems like some of the life skills you talk about – communication, self-esteem, confidence – are things that we should all be learning as children, instead of trying to improve after we grow up. How can parents use your site to help their children develop these skills?

MS: All of the pages on SkillsYouNeed cover essential life skills – skills that are important to everybody regardless of age. Such skills are the foundation stones needed to build a successful and fulfilling future, they are important for both personal and professional relationships. Parents can help their children to develop these skills by example.

Children learn a lot by mimicking the behaviour of the adults around them. We can encourage our children to behave in certain ways but they will often take the lead from their parents. As adults it is easy to become blasé about the essential skills we need. Take listening, something that we all do throughout our lives. Listening is actually quite a difficult skill to master. To listen properly takes a conscious effort: clearing your head of distractions, not interrupting the speaker with a comment or point-of-view and using your sight and other senses to pick up on non-verbal communication – while feeding back to the speaker with appropriate gestures and body language. We can tell our children how they should listen but if we don’t practise good listening skills ourselves then they are likely to pick up our bad habits. The same principle is true with more abstract personal skills, such as self-esteem. If we appear confident, be content with who we are and practise being assertive, then our children are more likely to use these skills themselves. We all know that positively reinforcing desirable behaviour in children (and adults) with encouragement and praise is helpful but we should take heed of the old adage to ‘practise what you preach’. We just need to make sure that we are preaching and practising the best skills for ourselves and our children.

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