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Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
The Effect of Multisensory Activities to Facilitate the Learning of Spelling Words in First-Grade Students
Author Affiliations
  • Saint Francis University
  • Saint Francis University
Article Information
School-Based Practice / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
The Effect of Multisensory Activities to Facilitate the Learning of Spelling Words in First-Grade Students
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505172. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO7024
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505172. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO7024
Abstract

Date Presented 4/9/2016

The purpose of this research project was to determine whether the use of multisensory approaches developed to teach spelling words in a first-grade classroom could result in improved test scores. There was a significant difference in test scores for all students when this approach was used.

Primary Author and Speaker: Kerri Golden

Additional Author and Speaker: Heidi McCracken

The purpose of this research project was to determine whether the use of multisensory approaches in a first-grade classroom could result in improved spelling test scores. The study is significant because there is minimal research regarding multisensory approaches to learning for typical children when facilitated by an occupational therapist. The occupational therapist can play a role helping to facilitate key skills needed for classroom success through collaboration with the teacher (Rens & Joosten, 2014). The role of the occupational therapist continues to expand in the school-based system, with practitioners working to improve skills of all students, not just those with disabilities. Early research from Shroeder (1982) found improvements in reading and spelling using a sensory integration approach with groups of children with learning disabilities as well as in control group participants.
The design of this study was quasi-experimental as there was no randomization of participants. All 16 students in the study received the treatment of multisensory experience with spelling words. The participants were a convenience sample, taken from a local elementary school where the teacher willingly engaged with the researcher to participate in the study. Before the intervention, the teacher gave the researcher 4 wk of spelling test scores from the 16 students. The average scores for the 4 wk before the intervention were 93.87%, 92.37%, 99.31%, and 89.87%, respectively. The researcher provided the teacher with a multisensory program to perform twice a week over 4 wk in place of the typical spelling lesson.
The program was developed by the occupational therapy student with guidance from MOT faculty with experience in sensory integrative approaches and theory (Stackhouse, 2014). The program encouraged the use of multiple strategies to teach spelling words including the use of shaving cream, pull-apart Twizzler candy, painting with a Q-tip, and Cheerios. By utilizing these media, the participants experienced their spelling words through visual, tactile, proprioceptive, and olfactory means. The spelling test scores for the 4 wk during the intervention were 94.5%, 98.81%, 98.06%, and 97.56%, respectively. A paired t test was conducted with a p value of .02, which is statistically significant. This finding suggests that a multisensory approach to learning spelling words could be helpful for teachers and students of all abilities.
The findings also support the hypothesis that there would be a significant difference in test scores when a multisensory approach is used to teach spelling. Although there are weaknesses to the study, including a limited pool of participants and lack of post–post testing, this was a basic research study that suggests that more research is needed that will benefit the future role of occupational therapy within the school setting.
IMPACT STATEMENTL: It is possible that occupational therapists can play a significant role in the academic success of all students, not just those affected by disability. The collaborative relationship between the occupational therapist and elementary school teacher can facilitate all children in their occupational role as a student.
References
Rens, L., & Joosten, A. (2014). Investigating the experiences in a school-based occupational therapy program to inform community based pediatric occupational therapy practice. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 61, 148–158. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1440-1630.12093
Schroeder, E. (1982). Improvement in academic achievement through enhancement of perceptual and sensory integrative functioning. School Psychology International, 3, 97–104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/014303438200300204
Stackhouse, T. M. (2014). The adaptive response to the just-right challenge: Essential components of sensory integration intervention. Sensory Integration Special Interest Section Quarterly, 37(2).