Cognitive Preference and Spelling Difficulties.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This study draws upon research from a number of fields to investigate the role ofcognitive preference on spelling remediation. A cognitive preference is considered tobe a relative strength in processing one type of information compared to processinganother type of information. In this study a preference for auditory-verbal processingor visuo-spatial processing is explored. A preliminary study involving a sample of 99pupils referred for Statutory Assessment was analysed with approximately 20% beingfound to have one preference or the other. A small-scale study involving 17 pupilsaged between 8 and 11 years was conducted to explore the possibility of identifyingcognitive preference through a diagnostic questionnaire, q-sort methodology ofchoices of pastime activities and using the BAS-II. Some agreement was foundbetween the three approaches. A learning experiment was conducted with the samepupils to see whether a verbal cue or a visuo-spatial cue would lead to improvedlearning of letter position in graded spellings. This indicated that the BAS-II was themost predictive of the 3 assessment methods and correctly identified the best learningmethod for 12 pupils (Fischer’s Exact Test, p=0.032). A measurable difference wasfound after only five learning trials that suggests that the use of modality basedlearning improves performance when matched to cognitive preference (Wilcoxon,p=0.038). Observational data collected suggests that other factors also influencedlearning during the learning experiment (attentional focus, motivation, socialpriming). Further study involving the use of naturalistic samples of handwritingseemed to indicate that cognitive preference was identifiable in the types of errorsmade for a further sample of 7 pupils (Chi Squared, p=0.013).
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Manchester
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • dyslexia
  • spelling
  • cognitive preferences
  • learning style
  • cognitive assessment


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