Carson Aho

Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Krystal L. Werfel


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine differences in spelling errors between children with normal hearing and children with hearing loss in kindergarten.

Method: Participants included 21 children with normal hearing and 23 children with hearing loss. All children used spoken English as their primary language. The children with hearing loss all utilized a hearing amplification device. Participants completed three single-word spelling assessments, a language assessment, and an oral reading assessment. An independent samples t-test was used to determine if the groups had differences in the number of spelling errors and whether a difference was observed within the Spelling Sensitivity Score (Masterson & Apel, 2010). Additionally, proportions of unanalyzable spellings and no spelling attempts made between the groups were compared. A mixed-effects model comparison was used to examine the specific language skills that predicted spelling for each group, and a Mann-Whitney U was used to examine the differences in proportions of errors between the two groups within the Multilinguistic Coding System.

Results: Children with normal hearing produced more errors of mental graphemic representation compared to children with hearing loss (p = 0.041). Children with normal hearing did not significantly differ from children with hearing loss in the number of errors, unanalyzable spellings and no spelling attempts made, or the Spelling Sensitivity Score.

Discussion: The current study provides evidence that children with hearing loss in kindergarten do not significantly differ in their spelling errors compared to children with normal hearing, aside from a fewer proportion of mental graphemic representation errors. With these data, in combination with previous research conducted, speech-language pathologists can further individualize treatment to focus on these specific error patterns. Additionally, this focus of treatment can help better prepare children with hearing loss for spelling and writing tasks in later grades. Future research should be conducted to determine when in elementary school the differences in spelling errors are initially seen.