Developing mental orthographic representations in refugee spellers with low literacy

How much input is too much?

Heather Smyser, Mary Alt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: We used two principles of implicit learning, variability and complexity, to train mental orthographic representations in refugee English learners to improve spelling. Methods: Twenty-eight refugees enrolled in a 10-week English class were trained on classroom words using stimuli designed to encourage implicit learning. We contrasted high-variability visual input combined with either high-linguistic or low-linguistic complexity, using a short (<5 minute) PowerPoint-based training. Participants were regularly tested on their spelling and were compared with themselves using single subject design. Individual effect sizes were aggregated across participants, and we used dependent measures t-tests to compare conditions. Results: Participants learned significantly more treated words than control words in the high-variability/low-complexity condition, but not in the high-variability/high-complexity condition. Conclusions: Refugees can benefit from interventions designed to promote implicit learning but can be overwhelmed by too much input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Research in Reading
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2017

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Refugees
refugee
literacy
Learning
Linguistics
learning
linguistics
stimulus
classroom
Literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

Cite this

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title = "Developing mental orthographic representations in refugee spellers with low literacy: How much input is too much?",
abstract = "Background: We used two principles of implicit learning, variability and complexity, to train mental orthographic representations in refugee English learners to improve spelling. Methods: Twenty-eight refugees enrolled in a 10-week English class were trained on classroom words using stimuli designed to encourage implicit learning. We contrasted high-variability visual input combined with either high-linguistic or low-linguistic complexity, using a short (<5 minute) PowerPoint-based training. Participants were regularly tested on their spelling and were compared with themselves using single subject design. Individual effect sizes were aggregated across participants, and we used dependent measures t-tests to compare conditions. Results: Participants learned significantly more treated words than control words in the high-variability/low-complexity condition, but not in the high-variability/high-complexity condition. Conclusions: Refugees can benefit from interventions designed to promote implicit learning but can be overwhelmed by too much input.",
author = "Heather Smyser and Mary Alt",
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AB - Background: We used two principles of implicit learning, variability and complexity, to train mental orthographic representations in refugee English learners to improve spelling. Methods: Twenty-eight refugees enrolled in a 10-week English class were trained on classroom words using stimuli designed to encourage implicit learning. We contrasted high-variability visual input combined with either high-linguistic or low-linguistic complexity, using a short (<5 minute) PowerPoint-based training. Participants were regularly tested on their spelling and were compared with themselves using single subject design. Individual effect sizes were aggregated across participants, and we used dependent measures t-tests to compare conditions. Results: Participants learned significantly more treated words than control words in the high-variability/low-complexity condition, but not in the high-variability/high-complexity condition. Conclusions: Refugees can benefit from interventions designed to promote implicit learning but can be overwhelmed by too much input.

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