University of Tasmania
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He gave Rose a rose : the use of cues to capitalisation by children and adults

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posted on 2023-05-28, 00:10 authored by Hawkey, EK
Capitalisation is an important spelling feature, used for proper nouns and sentence-initial words, that has been neglected in previous research and theories. A new theory, Integration of Multiple Patterns (IMP; Treiman & Kessler, 2014) suggests that people make spelling decisions on the basis of converging linguistic cues. Unlike traditional theories, which focus on letter patterns and relationships, IMP applies to broader spelling functions, but has been tested only retrospectively. The current study represents the first prospective test of IMP: assessing whether capital use increases as capitalisation cues accumulate. A capitalisation fill-in-the-blanks task and a standardised spelling task were completed to dictation by 205 students (65 primary, 60 secondary, and 80 university). The results demonstrated that primary students did benefit from accumulating cues, capitalising two-cue words (sentence-initial proper nouns) significantly more than one-cue words (sentence-medial proper nouns and sentence-initial common nouns) and these more than no-cue words (sentence-medial common nouns). Within the one-cue conditions, they capitalised proper nouns significantly more often than sentence-initial words. Conversely, secondary and university students capitalised one-cue words just as well as two-cue words. These results support IMP as a framework for primary children's spelling acquisition, and suggest that capitalisation should be revised in late primary school.


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