Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology


Linnea C. Ehri

Subject Categories



spelling; spelling instruction; teacher knowledge


This study examined the impact of classroom teachers' linguistic knowledge and spelling instructional practices on Grade 2 and 3 students' spelling gains over the course of one school year. The purpose of this study was to identify teacher level variables that impact student spelling gains. This study employed a correlational research design aimed at finding relationships between two independent variables and one dependent variable. The two independent variables were teacher instructional practices and teacher linguistic knowledge. Teacher level variables were identified through two measures, an Instructional Practices Questionnaire and a Linguistic Knowledge Survey. The dependent variable was the student spelling gain score which was measured by calculating gains made from a beginning of the year spelling pretest to an end of the year spelling posttest. Gains were measured in terms of the number of words spelled correctly. In addition, relationships between teacher knowledge and practices were examined. The participants included 32 classroom teachers (16 Grade 2 and 16 Grade 3), and 636 students (331 Grade 2 and 305 Grade 3).

Correlational analyses revealed a significant positive relationship between teacher total knowledge and classroom practices. In addition, significant and positive relationships were found between student gain scores and teacher phoneme knowledge, time spent in weekly spelling instruction, and teaching of spelling strategies. These results were found on a subsample of students who scored less than 20 words correct on the pretest for Grade 2. HLM analyses revealed similar significant findings with the Grade 2 data. Correlational analyses revealed a significant relationship between gain scores and teacher phoneme knowledge for Grade 3 students. In addition, teachers did not perform well on measures of phoneme knowledge.

Results of this study show a relationship between teacher knowledge and practice and student spelling gains. There is a need for additional research to demonstrate a causal relationship between teacher variables and student gains.

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