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.


Spelling Activities To Improve Your Spelling Skills Fast

Categories: Tips and Tricks |

Spelling is fun.  Really, it is! But if you find spelling practice boring or repetitive, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong activities. Here are some ways to spice up your spelling practice and become a Master Speller in no time.

Word Sorting: Learn Words in Groups

To learn difficult or hard to remember spellings you can practice word sorting.  Word sorting helps you develop phonemic awareness so that you can know how a sound translates into a word.

For instance, phonemic awareness lets you know that the letter A has two pronunciations. Sometimes it’s pronounced with a short vowel sound (as in ‘mat’) and sometimes with a long vowel sound (as in ‘gate’), but in both cases it’s simply written as the letter ‘a.’

Another example is grouping words by their suffixes, or other similar characteristics. You might make up a list with a group of words ending in the letters –cious. You could also choose to learn a list of words where the letter K is silent, as in ‘knight’ and ‘knee.’

When you truly understand spelling patterns, you will be able to apply these when spelling unknown words. One such spelling pattern could be the soft and hard G.

The letter G is pronounced “hard” in words such as gate, gap, goat and grow but “soft” in words such as gym and giraffe.

You can learn this sound-letter pattern with this rule:

When followed by A, O, or U, the G is pronounced with a “hard” sound.

When G is followed by I or E or Y, then the sound is “soft.”  

Knowing these letter patterns helps you correctly guess the spelling of an unknown word when you hear it pronounced out loud. You will be able to decipher that the correct spelling of ‘gymnastics’ is with a G and not a J, because you’ll recognize the pattern and remember the rule.

This technique of word sorting can be applied to a number of spelling activities. You can learn spelling with groups of words like these:

1) Learning words ending in –at and –an, as in the case of ‘pat’ and ‘pan’

2) Words with a silent E such as ‘cake’, ‘love’, ‘dove’ and ‘jove’

3) Learning words with diphthongs, such as ‘oy’ and ‘ow’

4) Learning the difference between the long and short A sounds in words like ‘hat’ and ‘safe’

Spelling patterns help you make generalized rules on how spelling works. Implementing these rules, once you know them, helps you arrive at the correct spelling of new words.

Once your phonological awareness is expanded through this technique, you can start practicing with games and spelling activities to consolidate that knowledge.

Spelling Knowledge Consolidation: Spelling 24/7

In order for you to truly master spelling you need to practice in a consistent yet fun manner. In fact, you can incorporate spelling practice in almost everything you do! Here are some ways to do it:

Gather together newspaper clips or online content and look for spelling words you’ve learned in the previous week or two. Seeing words in context helps you form a mental image of the correctly-spelled word.

Create a story based on the words you’ve just learned, or use them to practice the one you learned a while back. Collect 5 to 10 words and create a short narrative with them.  The more creative and funny the story, the more enjoyable this will be.

Shrink your spelling “black list” by studying your frequently misspelled words using a technique called “spelling stairs.” In this process, you start with the first letter, then add a single letter at a time until you form your word, like this:







Play online spelling games and take advantage of the hundreds of spelling games that are variations of classic word games and spelling activities, like Scramble and Hangman. When you’re having fun, you’ll enjoy the practice, and you’ll spend more time at it.

Mnemonics: The Expert’s Technique

Invent mnemonics for tough words to help you remember them. Sometimes, no matter how much you study a word you always seem to get it wrong, and mnemonic techniques can help. For example, say you always misspell the word ‘dilemma.’ Create a mnemonic for it that helps you remember the correct spelling, like this one:

Emma faced a dilemma.

Here’s another example: you can memorize the sentence “Goofy George always exaggerates” to remember to spell ‘exaggerate’ with a double G.

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