Jeanne Ellis Ormond
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Three experiments were conducted to test Frith’s (1980) hypothesis that good spellers read by full cues while poor spellers read by partial cues; a fourth experiment was conducted to investigate short-term memory differences between the two groups. Subjects for all four experiments were ten pairs of 9th- and 10th-grade students matched fro sex and intelligence but differing in spelling ability. Good spellers were found to be faster readers than poor spellers (Experiment 1), contrary to Frith’s prediction that poor spellers should read faster. Good spellers were found to be more accurate in identifying matches and mismatches in similarly spelled pairs of nonsense words (Experiment 2) and in spelling nonsense words they had just seen (Experiment 3). Experiments 2 and 3 both lend support to Frith’s hypothesis regarding different reading styles in good and poor spellers; however, an alternative explanation, that of differences in short-term memory, must also be considered. Experiment 4 involves the comparison of good and poor spellers in short-term visual memory for digits, consonant-vowel strings, and consonants, under both simultaneous and sequential presentation methods. Good spellers were found to have better short-term memory for all three content types and both presentation methods.