Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Cristie Grunwald


Spelling is a challenging task for many individuals, especially for those classified as Mild Mentally Disabled. Although considerable literature exists in the areas of special education and spelling, little research is evident involving these two areas in combination. In an attempt to address this gap, the researcher conducted a single subject research study to investigate the hypothesis that direct instruction of spelling enhances the spelling skills of students with special needs. Perceptions of parents, students, and teachers on how this program impacted student spelling skills was also investigated. Quantitative data from this study was collected from the SRA Spelling Mastery Placement pretest and posttest spelling scores of six Mild Mentally Disabled students and were analyzed using an independent measures t test. Qualitative data were collected from parents, students, and teachers through field observations, questionnaires, and journals using specific protocols. Qualitative data was analyzed using an adapted open coding approach. Emergent themes included the link between spelling and sentence creation, the link between spelling and reading competency, successful lessons, non-successful lessons, and changes that promoted successful lessons. Quantitative results from the study indicated that direct instruction had a positive impact on the spelling abilities of students with Mild Mental Disabilities. The qualitative data revealed that parents, teachers, and students perceive direct instruction as a viable teaching methodology in the instruction of spelling. This study informs social change by providing an effective approach for spelling instruction for special needs students and by highlighting the positive role spelling has in increasing student's reading and writing abilities.