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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Impact of word prediction & symbol-supported writing software on written output of students with Down syndrome McCartney, Joanne


This study examined the effectiveness of two types of assistive technology for writing instruction of students with Down syndrome in British Columbia. Students received either Clicker 5, a symbol-supported writing software program; or Co:Writer, a word prediction software program designed to support written output. Data collection was conducted between January-June 2007 (Year 1) and October-May 2008 (Year 2). Clicker 5 was provided to 43 students in Year 1 (17 of whom also participated in the study during Year 2) and was designed to support early and emergent literacy development. Co:Writer was provided to 18 students in Year 1 (2 of whom also participated in the study during Year 2) and was designed to support text writing. Each month during both school years, teachers were asked to complete an on-line survey with questions related to their impressions of the impact of the technology and other variables. Students in the Clicker group produced 10-minute monthly writing samples about a selected topic using a Clicker grid designed by the research team. Students in the Co:Writer group produced one handwritten and one Co:Writer-supported 10-minute writing sample every month about the specified topic. Data were analyzed with regard to writing rate, spelling accuracy (Co:Writer group only), and quality (measured both analytically and holistically). Results for dependent measures of writing for the Clicker group were variable but provided some support for the use of symbol-supported writing software for producing meaningful written output. The Co:Writer group was more accurate with regard to spelling and grammar while using Co:Writer compared to handwriting. The results are discussed in terms of the practical implications, limitations, and areas for future research.

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