Spelling Bee: A Study on the Motivation and Learning Strategies Among Elementary and Junior-High Student Competitors
(1) Clear Brook High School, Friendswood, TX
The spelling bee is among the oldest educational competitions in the United States of America, dating back to as far as the 1700s. With an increasing number of young English language learners from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, it has become increasingly important to adequately support this young generation in building a solid foundation in spelling and vocabulary, leading to greater literacy. The spelling bee, an educational competition of spelling and vocabulary, can be an exciting, enriching experience. In order to understand how to support these young minds, we examined the study tools that elementary and junior-high level spellers use to prepare for the spelling bee and the factors that affect their engagement. By surveying spellers, this study investigated the role of student motivation and the use of various learning strategies in preparation for competition in spelling bees. Supplementing the broad range of techniques and strategies, the findings suggest that learning and fun are the major motivating factors for spellers who exhibit continued participation in spelling bees. Spellers preferred digital materials over paper-based reference materials and valued the flexibility of learning with their self-planned approaches. The results have broad implications, such as in educational course design and instruction, in which taking individual uniqueness into account can allow for differentiation and individualized learning tailored to student needs.