if abbreviation expansion is to be successful: (a) careful identification of the commonly misspelled words or word reversals, (b) creation of abbreviations that are meaningful to the student not the professional, and (c) training of the student to expand the master listing of abbreviations.
Abbreviation expansion may be a useful tool for individuals who have to type the same phrases repeatedly. The programs are usually easy to learn, with the most time consuming aspect being the creation of the abbreviation list which will both not interfere with the use of other words and be logical to the individual student.
Word Prediction is a software program that uses the first few letters typed by an individual to "guess" at the desired word. For example, a student may want to spell "postsecondary", but is unsure of the spelling. After typing the first few letters (e.g., po) a "screen" (a small box containing text) would appear on his computer screen with the following words:
The student visually scans the list, or has the word list read out loud by the word prediction software, and then selects the desired word by entering the number that appears next to the word (e.g., 5). The word will then be placed within the body of the text. If the desired word does not appear on the list produced after the student has entered only one or two letters, the listing will be revised as the student types additional letters for the desired word.
The "rules" used by the software to make decisions about which words to present can be changed by the user (see Hunt-Berg, Rankin, & Beukelman, 1994, for additional information). The software can be directed to present words based upon their frequency of use, or the syntactical context provided by the preceding words. The user can also create specialized word lists for use with a specific writing topic. For example, the student could decide to create a word list to be used to provide predictions for essay writing for an American History class, and predictions would be limited to historical terms (e.g., after typing re, the student would see revolt, revolution, revolutionary).
There can be significant challenges to the effective use of word prediction. Often students will be distracted by the placement of the listing of words on the screen. Vertical and horizontal lists may be used in almost any area of the screen. However, the placement