Recovery effects in German orthography acquisition

Duration   since 01/2017
Researchers   Julia Erdmann, Prof. Dr. Nikol Rummel

Project description

German students’ spelling skills are decreasing. One of the possible for this are orthography instruction methods that encourage children to write words in their own, idiosyncratic way (using a phonetic table) without external correction for a prolonged time period (up to two years of schooling). An important factor accounting for the persistence of spelling errors beyond initial stages of orthography acquisition may lie in mechanisms of extinction learning and, specifically, in recovery effects. I hypothesize that at a later stage of this didactic approach, the initially acquired, orthographically incorrect association of word and spelling must be extinguished, and an orthographically correct association between the already familiar word-sound and a new letter unit (i.e. the correct spelling) has to be established. It is reasonable to assume that within this process, the initially learned association is not completely erased. We hypothesize that due to spontaneous recovery, the initially learned erroneous spelling may reappear in students’ future spelling. We further assume that the likelihood of recovery is increased particularly under stress, as it occurs, for instance, in testing situations.

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