North Carolina education professionals' linguistic knowledge and instructional and collaborative practices in the area of spelling

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mariam M. Abdelaziz (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Alan Kamhi

Abstract: Previous studies (e.g., Daffern & Critten, 2019; Fresch, 2003; Moats, 1994; Reid Lyon & Weiser, 2009) have indicated that Speech-language Pathologists (SLPs), Regular Educators (REs), and Special Educators (SEs) have below average linguistic knowledge, utilize instructional practices that favor the visual view of spelling and do not frequently engage in interprofessional collaboration. These studies have examined knowledge and practices of SLPs, REs and SEs in the context of reading. No study has compared SLPs’, REs’, and SEs linguistic knowledge across three specific knowledge language domains (phonology, morphology, and orthography). No study has compared the importance these professionals attribute to phonological awareness and visual memory for spelling development, nor has any study examined their orthographic knowledge, their instructional spelling practices, nor how often they collaborate with one another in spelling assessment and instruction. The present study was designed to fill this gap in the literature. Participants were 28 SLPs, 30 REs, and 27 SEs working in the North Carolina public schools. Participants were recruited through social media sites targeted for North Carolina SLPs, REs, and SEs, respectively. All participants completed an online questionnaire, that was based on previous research examining knowledge and instructional practices, as well as novel questions created by the author. The Spelling Knowledge and Practices Questionnaire (SKPQ) included 44 questions. Of these questions, 15 were original questions developed by the author. These 15 questions were modeled after the content of questions used in previous surveys, but they differed from the questions in previous surveys with respect to format from the original questions (e.g., fill-in-blank), number of answer choices (e.g., adding/reducing answer choices so answer choices were consistent across a section) and difficulty of the questions. For example, the difficulty of the questions was increased by adding more morphologically complex words. Three questions from previous surveys addressed interprofessional collaboration. REs and SEs rated visual memory as significantly more important than phonemic awareness and although they rate phoneme awareness as important, they did not rate it as important as SLPs. As predicted, SLPs’ scored significantly higher than REs and SEs on the phonological, morphological and orthographic subtests. However, none of the groups demonstrated expert level knowledge, including SLPs. All three groups reported instructional practices that were not aligned with the linguistic view of spelling. SLPs collaborated at significantly higher rates than did REs and SEs, despite all three groups rating their academic preparation in the area of interprofessional collaboration at similar levels. These findings corroborate a body of research spanning over 20 years. Studies examining linguistic knowledge and instructional practices have advocated more rigorous academic preparation for regular and special education teacher candidates and speech-language pathology students. However, academic preparation is only one portion of the solution. Comprehensive reform at state and local levels must occur for education professionals to implement instructional practices that align with a linguistic view of literacy. Moreover, states should adopt the Federal Government’s suggestions about streamlining IDEA in order to reduce administrative workloads experienced by SLPs, REs and SEs to increase opportunities for their interprofessional collaboration to facilitate linguistically-based literacy instruction.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Interprofessional collaboration, Professional knowledge, Spelling
Speech therapists
Special education educators
Language awareness
Language and languages $x Orthography and spelling

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