Structured Word Inquiry
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Structured Word Inquiry

Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) is a pedagogical technique involving the scientific investigation of the spelling of words.[1][2][3] SWI considers morphology,[4][5] etymology, relatives, and phonology.[3][6] The guiding principles of SWI are (1) "the primary function of English spelling is to represent meaning"[7] and (2) "conventions by which English spelling represents meaning are so well-ordered and reliable that spelling can be investigated and understood through scientific inquiry."[6][8][9]

Four questions

SWI uses four questions to investigate the spelling of a word:[6][10]

  1. What is the meaning of a word?
  2. What are the morphemes of the word?
  3. What are morphological and etymological relatives of the word?
  4. What are the letters doing in the word (spelling phonemes, functioning as markers, zeroed)?

The questions must be investigated in order starting with the meaning.

Word sums

A word sum shows how a word is built.[10][11] A word sum is a "necessary tool to allow falsification of hypotheses of orthographic morphological structure."[3][6]

The following are examples of word sums:

  • de + sign -> design
  • de + sign + ate + ed-> designated
  • sign + al -> signal
  • sign + ate + ure -> signature
  • re + sign + ate + ion -> resignation

Word Matrices

A word matrix is a visualization of the morphology of related words.[10][6][11]

A word matrix showing some of the members of the <sign> word family


  1. ^ Bowers, Peter (11 November 2019). Teaching How the Written Word Works.
  2. ^ Cooke, Gina (22 April 2019). "OG, SWI, and Other Acronyms". Linguist-Educator Exchange. Retrieved 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "What Is Structured Word Inquiry?". Nueva Teach. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ Bowers, Peter N.; Kirby, John R.; Deacon, S. Hélène (June 1, 2010). "The Effects of Morphological Instruction on Literacy Skills: A Systematic Review of the Literature". Review of Educational Research. 80 (2): 144-179. doi:10.3102/0034654309359353. S2CID 146237965.
  5. ^ Bowers, Peter N.; Cooke, Gina. "Morphology and the Common Core Building Students' Understanding of the Written Word" (PDF). Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e Bowers, Susan; Bowers, Peter. "Understanding SWI: "Structured Word Inquiry" or "Scientific Word Investigation"". WordWorks Literacy Centre. Retrieved 2020.
  7. ^ Martin, Nancy. "Struct +ure/ +ed Word + Inquire/ +y (SWI)". Eagle Hill School. Retrieved 2020.
  8. ^ "Structured Word Inquiry". The Reading and Learning Clinic of Manitoba. Retrieved 2020.
  9. ^ Bowers, Jeffrey S.; Bowers, Peter N. "The importance of correctly characterising the English spelling system when devising and evaluating methods of reading instruction: Comment on Taylor, Davis, and Rastle" (PDF).
  10. ^ a b c Kosur, Heather Marie. "Structured Word Inquiry". Teach a Student to Read. Retrieved 2020.
  11. ^ a b Ramsden, Neil. "Mini Matrix-Maker Home Page". Neil Ramsden. Retrieved 2020.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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