Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Arthur Smith


This study was conducted to gain insight as to whether students retain spelling better if they learn the words through the context of literature or through the use of words in isolation.

The students used in this study were heterogeneously grouped eighth graders who attended a rural high school in western New York. Two English classes with the same teacher were used for a total of 40 students. The students were given six spelling lists. Three of the lists were taken from the novel Across Five Aprils which was being read and studied at the time. The other three lists were phonically similar words with no attachment to literature. Each week the students were given a pretest, a practice test and a final test. The weeks that the contextual lists were used, there were several activities that the students engaged in using the words and the literature. The weeks of isolation there was no extra practice. After the sixth week the students no longer were given spelling lists. However, seven weeks after the last test, they were given a final test consisting of eight contextual words and eight words from the isolation lists. The results of this test were used to evaluate which method helped the students retain spelling words better.

The results of this study indicated that in relation to spelling retention there was no statistically significant difference between the literature-based approach and the traditional isolation approach.