We conducted two studies to investigate the benefits and limitations of spelling checkers with students with learning disabilities (LD). Study 1 compared the performance of 10 common spelling checkers in suggesting correct spellings for 555 unique misspellings from the writing of 55 students with LD in Grades 5 through 8. Study 2 investigated the success of 27 students with LD from Grades 6 through 8 in correcting their spelling errors with and without a spelling checker. Results indicated that spelling checkers are helpful but also have significant limitations. Unaided, students in Study 2 corrected 9% of their errors; with the spelling checker, they corrected 37% of their errors. Spelling checkers failed to identify 26% and 37% of errors in Studies 1 and 2, respectively, because the errors were other words correctly spelled. On average, spelling checkers suggested the correct spelling for approximately 55% of the identified errors, although the spelling checkers in Study 1 varied widely in performance. When the correct suggestion was provided, students usually (82% of the time) were able to select the correct word. Implications for instruction and design of spelling checkers are discussed.
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