The Effects of Student Decision Making Upon Spelling Achievement and Attitude Toward the Spelling Curriculum

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1973

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The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether spelling achievement and attitude toward the spelling curriculum differ under three different approaches to decision making i n the spelling curriculum. The three different approaches to decision making were: (1) teacher decision making (T1), (2) combination teacher and student decision making (T2), and (J) student decision making (T3). With respect to the three different approaches to decision making , the second purpose of the study was to determine whether spelling achievement and attitude toward spelling were differentially affected by grade level . The population was forty volunteer teachers and their classrooms in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Each third, fourth, and fifth grade classroom was randomly assigned to one of the three treatment groups. In T1 the teacher made decisions for students concerning the spelling content and spelling study methods, in T2 the students made decisions concerning the spelling content and the teacher made decisions concerning study methods, and in T3 the students made decisions concerning both the content and study methods related to the spelling curriculum. In this study student decision making was implemented through the use of a contracting procedure. Data for this study consisted of four scores for each student: (1) Spelling Achievement Test (pretest), ( 2) Spelling Achievement Test (post-test), (J) tabulation of total number of words spelled correctly on weekly spelling tests, and (4) Spelling Attitude Scale. Classroom mean scores provided the basic data for analysis. The data were analyzed by means of analysis of variance and covariance procedures employing a J x J factorial design. The following conclusions were supported: (1) There is no difference in spelling achievement under (a) teacher decision making (T1), (b) combination teacher and student decision making (T2) , and (c) student decision making (T3). (2) There is no interaction effect between the different degrees of student decision making and grade levels on spelling achievement . (J) There is no difference in attitude toward the spelling curriculum under the three different degrees of student decision making. (4) There is no interaction effect between the different degrees of student decision making and grade levels in attitude toward the spelling curriculum. The following implication for theory was suggested by this investigations Student decision making appears to result in student achievement and attitude that is equivalent to that under teacher decision making in the spelling curriculum. Students appear to be effective in determining content and study methods in the spelling curriculum. Theorjes of decision making must be developed which deal with decision making as it relates to the learning process. The data suggest the following implications for teaching , (1) In learning situations where students can be involved in currjculum decision making , they may learn as willingly and satisfactorily as under teacher decision making. (2) Contracting is an effective and practical technique for individualizing instruction and incorporating student decision making in the spelling curriculum. Implications for research as suggested by this investigation include the following, (1) There is a need to investigate the effects of student decision making upon achievement and attitude by (a) using more broadly representative samples of students, (b) looking at effects over a longer period of time, (c) using different testing instruments, or (d) implementing student decision making in other areas of the curriculum. (2) Student decision making effects might be interwoven with the quality of the negotiation between the teacher and the student, especially with respect to the provisions for commitment , success, and feedback concerning growth in decision making. An in depth analysis of the negotiation interaction might provide useful information concerning the effectiveness of specific aspects of the negotiation procedure. (3) An in depth analysis which would compare the achievement and attitude of individual students under different degrees of student decision making may reveal information concerning the most effective decision making situation for the individual student.

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