Computer tool for use by children with learning difficulties in spelling
The development of a computer tool to be used by children with learning difficulties in spelling is described in this thesis. Children with spelling disabilities were observed by the author, and their errors were recorded. Based on analysis of these errors, a scheme of error classification was devised. It was hypothesized that there were regularities in the errors; that the classification scheme describing these errors could provide adequate information to enable a computer program to 'debug' the children's errors and to reconstruct the intended words; and that the children would be able to recognize correct spellings even if they could not produce them. Two computer programs, the EDITCOST and the PHONCODE programs, were developed. These incorporated information about the types of errors that were made by the children, described in terms of the classification scheme. They were used both to test the hypotheses and as potential components of a larger program to be used as a compensatory tool. The main conclusions drawn from this research are: The errors made by children with learning difficulties in spelling show regularities in both the phoneme-grapheme correspondences and at the level of the orthography. The classification scheme developed, based on the children's errors, provides a description of these errors. It provides adequate information to enable a computer program to 'debug' the children's errors and to reconstruct the intended words. Computer tools in the form of interactive spelling correctors are able to offer a correction for a substantial proportion of the child's errors, and could be extended to provide more information about the children's errors. They are also suitable for use with other groups of children.