M. Verdoodt, F. Devos

Ghent University (BELGIUM)
In recent years, the spelling competences of Dutch and Flemish students have increasingly come under fire. Van Houtven, Peters and El Morabit (2010), for instance, claim that spelling abilities of first-year college students can be improved at secondary school.

In this paper, we describe the effect of three factors (gender, educational background and actual studies) on spelling results, metacognition and the attitude of college undergraduates (n=188).

Vanderswalmen, Vrijders and Desoete (2010), who researched the influence of metacognition on spelling results, have established a positive correlation between metacognition and spelling results: ‘Good spellers are aware that they are good at spelling’. This finding, however, is not in line with the results of this study, where we found that only attitude correlates positively with spelling results.

According to Devos and Van Vooren (2010), who analysed the spelling results in Dutch and Flemish schools, female pupils achieve better results than their male counterparts. This is consistent with the findings in this study. When college students are required to fill in their own answers, female students are significantly better at spelling. The same applies to students who have successfully completed general secondary education (as opposed to technical secondary education) and students doing their Bachelor’s degrees in applied linguistics (as opposed to undergraduates from other disciplines). As for metacognition, only ‘gender’ and ‘actual studies’ lead to significant differences. Therefore, female students and students reading applied linguistics are better at assessing their levels of spelling than other students.

The final aspect – attitude – provides us with major differences in all three categories. Indeed, it appears that female college students are better at spelling than their male colleagues, students who successfully complete general secondary education achieve better spelling results than students finishing technical secondary education and applied linguistics students are better at spelling than students from other disciplines.

[1] Devos, F., and V. Van Vooren (2010). Een correlatief onderzoek naar de kennis van spelling bij laatstejaarsleerlingen aso en vwo [A correlative study on last year secondary students’ spelling knowledge]. In: Logopedie, 23-3, pp. 63–68.
[2] Vanderswalmen, R., J. Vrijders and A. Desoete (2010). Metacognition and spelling performance in college students. In: A. Efklides and P. Misailidi (eds.). Trends and Prospects in Metacognition Research. New York: Springer, pp. 367-394.
[3] Van Houtven, T., E. Peters and Z. El Morabit (2010). Hoe staat het met de taal van studenten? Exploratieve studie naar begrijpend lezen en samenvatten bij instromende studenten in het Vlaamse hoger onderwijs [What about the students' language? Exploratory study on reading comprehension and précis-writing among students entering Flemish higher education]. In: Levende Talen Tijdschrift, 11-3, pp. 29-45.