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Handwriting instruction: a commentary on five studies



Handwriting is still a prominent mode for composing for both children and adults As a result, it is important that developing writers acquire fluent and legible handwriting. This article examines the five investigations that were presented in this special issue on handwriting instruction, providing a summary of their collective contributions as well as the limitations of each paper.
Handwriting Instruction: A Commentary on Five Studies
Steve Graham
Learning Sciences Institute Australia at the Australian Catholic University - Brisbane
Arizona State University
Handwriting is still a prominent mode for composing for both children and adults As a result, it
is important that developing writers acquire fluent and legible handwriting. This article examines
the five investigations that were presented in this special issue on handwriting instruction,
providing a summary of their collective contributions as well as the limitations of each paper.
Handwriting is Alive and Healthy!
During the last 20 years or so, I have been asked to share what I know about writing with
members of the print, digital, and visual media. More often than not, these queries have focused
on handwriting. The topics of discussion have ranged from satirical (the John Daley show
seeking information for a possible comical send up of legislators demanding children be taught
cursive handwriting), to farcical (a print reporter writing a story on a possible legislative demand
that doctors be required to take a course in handwriting), to scholarly (the host of a television
show asking why handwriting is important to children’s development as writers). The most
common query though has centered on the death of handwriting.
When faced with this question, I sometimes jokingly reply: “Do you know where
handwriting is buried?” or “Did you see the death certificate?” While this sometimes catches the
interviewer by surprise, these queries most often produces a polite chuckle and a rephrasing of
the question before we get started.
While I am obviously taking a light hearted poke at questions concerning the demise of
handwriting, it is not an inappropriate inquiry. Before the commercial success of the typewriter
towards the end of the 19th century (Cortada, 2015), writing by hand had a virtual lock on how
we transcribed our ideas into print. With the invention and proliferation of personal computers in
the late 1970s, composing moved from writing by hand or typewriting to include composing
with a keyboard. The field became even more crowded recently, as tools for creating writing
directly from speech became available and popular in common devices such as personal
computers and phones. While most of us still write by hand, much of the writing we do in our
daily lives now involves digital devises (Freedman, Hull, Higgs, & Booten, 2016). So, all in all,
this reoccurring concern about the death of handwriting does not seem so farfetched after all.
This is not to say that handwriting is unimportant in the world today or likely to disappear
any time soon. Pen, pencil, and paper are very affordable, transportable, and usable (Graham,
2009/2010). In some settings, such as schools, these are the most dominant writing tools
worldwide (see for example the special issue on writing education around the globe edited by
Graham & Rijlaarsdam, 2016). Many of us also prefer to use handwriting for certain types of
writing tasks such as notetaking. There is an emerging body of research demonstrating that
taking notes by hand can be more beneficial to learning than taking them on an electronic writing
device such as a word processor (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2014). Further, the line between
writing digitally and by hand is becoming blurred, as there is an increasing number of digital
devices that allow writers to handwrite and draw their messages (e.g., digital handwriting pads).
Take a look around though, and you will see that handwriting is quite common, especially in
schools. As a result, inquiries about the demise of handwriting are overwrought and premature.
The Importance of Fluent and Legible Handwriting
In settings where handwriting is the primary mode for writing or settings where we use
handwriting along with digital tools (e.g., jotting down ideas on paper while writing on a digital
tool), it is important that our handwriting is both fluent and legible. If our writing hand is not fast
enough to keep up with our thought production when writing, we are likely to lose ideas before
we can commit them to paper (Berninger, 1999). On the other hand, if handwriting is so illegible
that it is unreadable, our audience will not be able to read our message.
The impact of legibility though is not just whether handwriting can or cannot be
deciphered. The impact of legibility is subtler than this, as readers can form a negative opinion
about the quality of our ideas when handwriting is decipherable but difficult to read due to poor
legibility. In a recent meta-analysis (Graham, Harris, & Hebert, 2011), we examined studies that
took the same composition and made it more or less legible. These different versions of the same
paper were then randomly assigned to raters who were asked to independently judge the quality
of the ideas in the composition. Papers that were more legible versus less legible ones evidenced
a full standard deviation difference in assigned scores for quality of ideas, favoring the more
legible paper. This occurred even though these two versions of the paper contained exactly the
same words. Thus, the legibility of one’s writing can bias evaluations of compositions written by
hand, leading to lower scores or grades. Unless preventive measures are put into place, such as
typing all compositions in advance of scoring, this legibility effect also influences the scoring of
handwritten text on high-stakes standardized measures of writing as well as the scoring of
handwritten text produced by participants in writing research studies (Graham et al., 2011).
Without such precautions, it is difficult to know how much of a writing score is due to text
legibility or the quality of the message.
It is further important to note that there is a reciprocal relation between handwriting
legibility and fluency (Graham, & Miller, 1980). How quickly we produce letters slows when our
goal is to write as neatly and legibly as possible. In contrast, if we speed up our handwriting so
we can get ideas down as quickly as possible, there is a negative effect on legibility. This
presents a dilemma for students and others when writing under timed situations. If one slows
down to write more legibly, the reader is likely to judge the message more positively as the
negative bias of illegibility is removed or minimized. This strategy has a downside, however, as
the writer runs the risk of not completing the task. On the other hand, if one writes more quickly
so the task is completed on time, readers are more likely to judge the resulting text more harshly
due to decrements in legibility.
Handwriting and Writing Development
Learning to master handwriting early is especially important for young children. Primary
grade children who experience difficulty learning to produce letters legibly and fluently by hand
can form a negative attitude towards writing. They often avoid writing whenever they can and
develop a mindset they cannot write (Berninger, Mizokawa, & Bragg, 1991). This increases the
likelihood that they will become poor writers, as they have less opportunity to apply the writing
skills they are learning in the classroom and less opportunities to develop new skills through
writing (Graham, Kiuhara, McKeown, & Harris, 2012).
While early handwriting difficulties do not ensure a child will become a poor writer, it is
clearly one of the paths that can lead to this outcome (Berninger, 1999). Even for children who
do not have early difficulties with handwriting, this seemingly simple skill influences writing
development in other important ways. Of all the skills and knowledge that are needed to write
skillfully, handwriting places the earliest constraints on writing. Until children can form letters
with reasonably legibility and speed, much of their writing concentration and effort is consumed
with letter production.
In an earlier paper, I provided an analogy to illustrate how handwriting constrains the
writing of young students (Graham, 2009/2010). This involved using a Chinese typewriter to
compose text. This is a very complicated writing tool, containing close to 6,000 characters,
where even someone who has mastered its use types only about 11 characters per minute.
Imagine yourself trying to type a paper using this machine. As you very slowly write your
composition, some of your ideas will be lost as they slip from memory before they can be
committed to paper. Any time you need to hunt for the next character on the typewriter, your
working memory will be taxed further, resulting in even more ideas being forgotten. The act of
composing with such a tool is so demanding that the cognitive resources you could devote to
other important aspects of writing, such as evaluating and sharpening text as you compose, are
not readily available, as you are so preoccupied with transcribing your ideas into text.
The formidable impact of handwriting on the composing of developing writers can
further be illustrated without the use of special tools such as a Chinese typewriter. Try doing this.
First, write about a topic you are interested in for 10 minutes. Then take a breather and repeat
this process, but switch your pen or pencil to your non-dominant hand (or the one you do not
typically write with). Compare the results, and you will find that when you write with your non-
dominant hand versus your dominant one you produced less text, focused less attention on text
evaluation and sharpening, experienced more difficulty persevering for the full 10 minutes, and
enjoyed writing less.
For young children, handwriting plays a role in shaping how they go about the process of
composing. For beginning writers, the physical aspects of handwriting are cognitively
demanding, as children are still learning how to write letters correctly and fluently (Graham,
Berninger, Weintraub, & Schafer, 1998). Consequently, a considerable amount of their effort and
thinking when writing is devoted to forming legible letters. Handwriting is not the only
demanding aspect of writing when children compose text by hand (Graham, 2018). Other
activities such as spelling, sentence construction, and processes like planning and evaluating that
involve reflection and thought are cognitively demanding too. Collectively, these various writing
processes and skills are so demanding that something must be minimized so the child can reduce
possible cognitive overload (McCutchen, 1988). Since children cannot eliminate the physical act
of writing, they must minimize the use of other attention and resource demanding processes. For
example, they may treat writing as a knowledge-telling activity, where an idea is generated and
written on paper, with each new idea serving as a stimulus for the next one (Scardamalia &
Bereiter, 1986). With this approach, little attention or thought is given to the constraints imposed
by the topic, the organization of text, or the needs of the readers. Children may also minimize
other production processes such as spelling by using words in their writing they already know
how to spell or deciding not to worry if a word is spelled incorrectly (Graham & Santangelo,
An important goal in writing instruction, therefore, is to help young children become
legible and fluent enough with handwriting so that the cognitive resources it requires during
composing are minimal and do not interfere with other writing processes (Graham, 1999). This is
not to say that such instruction eliminates the potential negative effects of handwriting
completely. Handwriting fluency still accounts for considerable variability in college students’
writing performance (Connelly, Dockrell, & Barnet, 2010), and in certain circumstances anyone
can produce a paper with poor legibility.
Teaching Handwriting
Researchers became interested in scientifically testing the effectiveness of various
procedures for teaching handwriting around 80 years ago (e.g., Kimmons, 1936). Since then,
about 10 large-group handwriting intervention studies (published and unpublished) have been
conducted on average each decade (Santangelo & Graham, 2016), with an undetermined number
of single participant design interventions undertaken during the last 50 years or so (examples of
such studies can be found in reviews by Graham, 1999; Graham & Weintraub, 1996).
The research conducted during this time has taught us much about how to effectively
teach handwriting to school-aged children. In terms of big picture conclusions (see Santangelo &
Graham, 2016), explicitly and directly teaching handwriting enhances both fluency and
legibility; individualizing handwriting instruction as well as using technology to teach it can
improve handwriting performance; interventions designed to improve handwriting through
enhancing motor skills are ineffective; and handwriting instruction results in general
improvements on other aspects of writing such as sentence construction, text length, and text
At a more micro-level, handwriting instructional research has identified a variety of
procedures that are important for teaching handwriting effectively. These include but are not
limited to: modeling how letters are formed when teaching them; using visual cues such as
numbered arrows to guide letter formation; providing practice tracing, copying, and writing
letters from memory; encouraging students to evaluate and correct their letter production efforts
during practice; reinforcing students’ successful letter production efforts; providing corrective
feedback; giving students plenty of opportunities to write to enhance handwriting fluency; asking
children to set goals for improving their handwriting; implementing appropriate learning
procedures for left-hand writers; teaching students how to position their paper and how to hold
their pencil or pen in a comfortable and efficient manner; allotting 75 to 100 minutes of
handwriting instruction per week in grades one through four; and providing extra handwriting
instruction to students who experience difficulty mastering this skill (Graham, 2009/2010; 1999;
Graham & Weintraub, 1996; Graham & Miller, 1980; Santangelo & Graham, 2016).
Despite the advances made in scientifically identifying effective practices for teaching
handwriting, there is much still to be learned. First, the handwriting instructional database is
generally thin. For instance, in their comprehensive review of true- and quasi-intervention
studies, Santangelo and Graham (2016) found only 20 investigations that tested the effectiveness
of providing explicit and direct handwriting instruction, and there were less than 10 studies
testing the effectiveness of each of the following: individualization, technology, and motor
instruction. Second, Graham and Santangelo found only seven studies examining if handwriting
instruction resulted in better writing performance (quality, length, or sentence construction).
Third, most studies reviewed by Graham and Santangelo were not conducted with students
experiencing difficulties with handwriting or with older students beyond the primary grades.
This brings us to this special issue on handwriting instruction edited by Limpo, Alves and
Connelly for Reading & Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. This collection of papers includes
five research studies that examine if: (1) teaching handwriting to younger and older students who
experience difficulty mastering it was effective, (2) teaching handwriting in conjunction with
other forms of instruction was beneficial, (3) providing practice in writing number symbols
improved handwriting, and (4) teaching handwriting resulted in improvements in writing and
The Special Issue
Teaching Handwriting to Younger and Older Students with Handwriting Difficulties
Three of the five studies in this special issue examined if teaching handwriting to students
experiencing difficulties mastering this skill was effective. Using a multiple-probe design across
participants, one investigation (Limpo, Parente, & Alves) assessed the effectiveness of providing
five hours of one-on-one handwriting instruction to three fifth grade Portuguese students with
slow handwriting. Previous research has focused mostly on younger students in the primary
grades, where handwriting is still a part of the regular school curriculum (formal handwriting
instruction mainly occurs in grades 1 and 2 in Portugal). The handwriting instruction provided to
these three students was designed to promote fast access to letter representations in memory as
well as improve handwriting accuracy and speed. This relatively short intervention had one of
the desired effects, as students’ handwriting became more fluent. We do not know however if
there was a decrement or increase in handwriting legibility or access to letter representations, as
these skills were not measured. Even so, this investigation demonstrated that the handwriting
fluency of older students with slow handwriting can be improved. It should be noted that an
upward trend in baseline scores was observed on three consecutive probes for one to two
students for each measure (handwriting fluency as well as other writing measures), casting some
doubt on whether experimental control was established in these situations.
A second study (Reybroeck & Michiels) conducted with five French students with
language difficulties and poor handwriting (7 to 10 years of age) examined if embedding practice
tracing the shape of letters within the context of phonological awareness training enhanced
students’ graphomotor skills and handwriting quality. The tracing practice provided to the three
students randomly assigned to the treatment condition was relatively minimal, as they practiced
tracing letters in only 10 of the 35 exercises. The two students in the control condition were
asked to visually discriminate between the target letters traced by treatment students and other
distractor letters. Despite the minimal amount of tracing instruction, two of the students in the
treatment condition made statistically significant gains in handwriting quality. None of the
students made statistically significant gains on the measure of graphomotor skills however. It is
difficult to determine if this was an issue, as the graphomotor test assessed some skills that did
not seem directly relevant to the letter tracing practice provided, such as drawing loops, straight
lines, and curved lines. Of course, the findings from this study must be interpreted cautiously, as
it involved such a small number of students. In addition, the authors did not establish the
reliability of their measures (this is a fundamental principle in experimental research; see
Graham, 2015). Even so, this study provides an important first step in examining the teaching of
handwriting to students with language impairments. I hope it spurs additional handwriting
research with this population.
A third study conducted in the United States (Graham, Harris, & Adkins) examined the
impact of providing a supplemental package of 16 hours of one-on-one handwriting and spelling
instruction to first grade students who were not acquiring these skills as rapidly as their peers. In
this randomized control trial, students who received this instruction made statistically greater
gains in handwriting fluency and spelling than students in the control condition who received
one-on-one phonological awareness instruction. Because we did not include a group that just
received handwriting or spelling instruction in this study, it was not possible to determine the
specific effects of handwriting on the handwriting or spelling measures administered. In addition,
even though we found that students in the handwriting/spelling treatment outperformed control
students on a measure of handwriting legibility, this was likely due to a decrement in the
legibility of control students’ writing from pre-test to posttest (the handwriting/spelling treatment
students’ scores remained relatively constant across these two testing times). Finally, no
differences were found between the two treatment conditions in terms of improved spelling in
context. This was not a target of instruction, but it is the ultimate measure of spelling
In summary, these three studies (despite their limitations) add to a small but growing
body of literature showing that we can improve the handwriting of younger and older students
who experience difficulties mastering it. Two of the three studies also demonstrated that the
teaching of handwriting can be combined or embedded in other forms of instruction and still be
Teaching Handwriting with Other Forms of Instruction
While two of the studies reviewed in the last section found that combining the teaching of
handwriting with other forms of instruction can be beneficial for students experiencing
handwriting difficulties, the study by Lichtsteiner, Wicki, and Falmann in this special issue did
not find a similar positive effect with typically developing students. In this investigation
conducted with third grade children in Switzerland, students and instructors were randomly
assigned to one of four instructional groups: handwriting/spelling instruction, handwriting
instruction, spelling instruction, and reading fluency instruction (the inclusion of separate
handwriting and spelling instructional groups corrected for a weakness in the Graham, Harris, &
Adkins study discussed earlier). Each instructional group received five hours of instruction.
Unfortunately, there was no statistical differences between any of the groups on a copying
measure of handwriting fluency, a test of spelling, or all but two handwriting fluency measures
obtained via a digitizing tablet (one of these two effects favored the two groups with handwriting
instruction, but the effects dissipated over a short period of time)
While it might be tempting to attribute these disappointing findings to several weaknesses
in the study (reliability was not reported for all measures, treatment fidelity was not established,
and the nested nature of the data was not accounted for in the statistical analyses), I think several
other explanations are more likely in terms of the findings for handwriting. First, the primary
focus of handwriting instruction was on making connections between cursive letters. It is
possible, as the authors noted, that students in this study already knew how to form letters and
use the corresponding link between letters. Thus, handwriting fluency was already high at the
beginning of the study and, consequently, there was little room for improvement. It is also
possible that the handwriting practice students undertook made them more deliberate (and slower
than they might normally be) in forming letters on the assessments which were administered
after instruction (again as noted by the authors). It was surprising, therefore, that the authors did
not examine the legibility of students’ performance on the 5 minute copying task they
administered or with the composition students wrote. This may have provided data relevant to
this concern.
The Influence of Providing Practice in Writing Numbers
Perhaps the most intriguing as well as the most controversial finding in this collection of
five studies comes from the investigation conducted by Zemlock, Vinci-Booher, and James.
Their study conducted in the United States involved randomly assigning children who were
approximately four years old to one of four conditions: practice writing letters, practice writing
numbers, practice viewing letters, and practice viewing numbrs. The two viewing groups (letters
and numbers) were the control conditions and the two writing groups were the interventions
(letters and numbers). The outcome measures involved three assessments of letter knowledge.
One involved naming the 26 letters of the alphabet (letter naming). A second measure asked
students to put letter cards into a corresponding slot with the letter printed on it (letter sorting).
The third task required students to match a letter with one of four choices (letter recognition).
The primary purpose of their study was to determine if practice writing letters
(handwriting instruction) or a more general effect of practice producing symbols (practice
writing numbers) was responsible for improvements in letter knowledge. In essence, they
thought writing letters would improve young children’s letter knowledge, but such improvements
may not be a direct consequence of writing letters as they may occur as a result of improvements
in visual-motor integration brought about by practicing symbols other than letters (such as
numbers). If this is the case, then both letter writing and symbol writing should improve letter
knowledge. In analyzing their data for each letter knowledge measure, they conducted a 2
(condition: writing practice vs. viewing practice) X 2 (symbol: letters vs. numbers) X 2 (time:
pretest vs. posttest) ANCOVA with age as a covariate. For the most important measure in my
opinion (letter naming) only age and time were statistically significant. This was also the case for
the letter sorting measure.
For the letter recognition measure, age, time, and the interaction between time and
instructional condition (writing vs. viewing) were statistically significant. Authors interpreted
these findings as follows. Since the writing condition (which combined students from the writing
letters and writing numbers groups) outperformed the viewing condition (which combined
students from the letter and number viewing group), and the letter writing group did not improve
more than the number writing group (as indicated by no other statistical differences in their
analysis beyond age, time, and the interaction by time and condition), then visual-motor practice
with any type of symbol can lead to increases in letter recognition.
While this is a relatively sound study (even though treatment fidelity and reliability of
measures were not established), I have a number of reservations about the interpretations of the
findings. First, there was no statistical relation between treatment conditions and outcomes for
two of the measures. This raises questions about the generalizability and strength of the authors’
conclusions beyond the single letter recognition measure. Second, I was surprised that the
authors did not apply statistical procedures where they directly assessed differences in letter
knowledge growth between practice writing letters and practice writing numbers for their three
measures. This could have been done with a 4 (condition: practice writing letters, practice
writing numbers, practice viewing letters, and practice viewing numbers) X 2 (time: pretest vs
posttest) ANCOVA with age as the covariate. They indicate in their discussion that future work is
required to determine to what extent visually guided motor practice needs to be matched to the
symbols tested. They could have tested this effect directly in their study, but for some reason did
not. This last point is not unimportant, as the writing numbers group recognized three letters
more than students in the two viewing groups, but the writing letters group recognized nine more
letters than students in the control conditions.
In designing future studies looking at this issue, it would also be a good idea to include
measures of number naming and recognition. This would have strengthened the Zemlock, Vinci-
Booher, and James study published here, as it would have shown that this effect applied more
Generalization Effects of Handwriting Instruction to Writing and Reading
It was gratifying to see that all five studies looked at whether instruction improved
students’ reading and other aspects of students’ writing beyond handwriting. While Lichtsteiner,
Wicki, and Falman reported than both spelling and composition quality did not statistically
improve as a result of handwriting instruction, this was not unexpected as their instruction did
not statistically enhance students’ handwriting either (possibly due to already strong handwriting
skills at the start of the study as noted earlier). The findings from the other four studies are more
promising, as improvements were found for letter recognition (Zemlock, Vinci-Booher, &
James); grapheme reading and spelling (Reybroeck & Michiels); word spelling, sentence
construction, and composition vocabulary (Graham, Harris, & Adkins), as well as grammar, story
elements, and writing self-efficacy (Limpo, Parente, & Alves).
When these findings are considered along with the positive generalization effects
documented in the true- and quasi-experiments reviewed by Santangelo and Graham (2016), they
strengthen the claim that it is important to teach handwriting because it makes students better
writers. They also provide a window into the possibility that handwriting improves reading skills
(at least at the grapheme level). Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that the studies in this
special issue do not provide a strong claim for these contentions for two reasons. One, in some
studies, the effects of handwriting could not be isolated for many of these findings, as the
teaching of handwriting instruction was paired with other forms of instruction (e.g., spelling).
Two, while some measures of reading and writing improved in some studies, others did not (e.g.,
writing output and writing quality). The impact of handwriting instruction on reading and writing
likely depends on the type of instruction provided, the dosage of the treatment, and the skills
measured. Additional research is needed to gain a better understanding of how handwriting
instruction impacts writing and reading growth.
In Conclusion
The studies presented in this special issue of Reading & Writing provide new insights and
important directions for future research in handwriting. I want to commend all of the author
teams for their efforts to make a difference in the lives of the children who participated in their
study and to advance our understanding of handwriting and its role in literacy growth. I further
hope that the concerns or issues raised for each study (including my own) will help us do even
better research in this area in the future.
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... Although reading is often prioritized in educational systems, writing is just as critical to educational and career success (Graham, 2019;Troia, 2014). A key element within a comprehensive primary writing curriculum is handwriting (Donica, et al., 2012;Graham, 2018), as it offers students a vehicle to record thoughts, demonstrate their knowledge, and express themselves (Graham & Hebert, 2010;Sheffield, 1996). ...
... Handwriting is required for several important tasks throughout the school day: answering questions, summarizing, writing stories, journaling, solving math problems, and taking notes (Donica, 2010;Graham, 2018;Graham, et al., 2008;Sheffield, 1996). Even so, handwriting difficulties are common (Graham, 2018); teachers report 25% to 40% of all students demonstrate handwriting difficulties in the primary years (Graham et al., 2008;Vander Hart, et al., 2010). ...
... Handwriting is required for several important tasks throughout the school day: answering questions, summarizing, writing stories, journaling, solving math problems, and taking notes (Donica, 2010;Graham, 2018;Graham, et al., 2008;Sheffield, 1996). Even so, handwriting difficulties are common (Graham, 2018); teachers report 25% to 40% of all students demonstrate handwriting difficulties in the primary years (Graham et al., 2008;Vander Hart, et al., 2010). Furthermore, children across all grade levels who demonstrate poor penmanship are more likely to receive lower grades on written assignments regardless of the quality of content (Graham, 2018;Graham et al., 2008). ...
Full-text available
Despite its importance in developing literacy, handwriting often receives scant attention during teacher training. The researcher utilized a mixed-methods approach implementing a two-phase sequential design to investigate teacher perceptions of preservice training in handwriting, as well as the provision of handwriting instruction across Texas schools. Despite reporting little or no handwriting instruction during training, teachers agreed that it is an important component within the literacy continuum and expressed concerns about a lack of district-level support for the subject, as well as concerns regarding implementing handwriting into a virtual curriculum.
... (Sülzenbrück et al. 2011: 250) Especially the last sentence echoes directly the worries propagated in the media, and additionally emphasises that the death of handwriting could occur sooner rather than later. However, Steve Graham, an authority in handwriting research, disagrees: according to him, "[h]andwriting is alive and healthy" (Graham 2018(Graham : 1367. He underlines not only the simple fact that "[p]en, pencil, and paper are very affordable, transportable, and usable", which is especially relevant in regions of the world that are not (yet) as technologised and thus affected by digitalisation, but also mentions the above-mentioned "digital devices that allow writers to handwrite [. . ...
... He underlines not only the simple fact that "[p]en, pencil, and paper are very affordable, transportable, and usable", which is especially relevant in regions of the world that are not (yet) as technologised and thus affected by digitalisation, but also mentions the above-mentioned "digital devices that allow writers to handwrite [. . .] their messages" (Graham 2018(Graham : 1368, highlighting how handwriting -partially -finds new 'life' in the digital realm. Furthermore, some domains or scribal practices are expected to remain handwritten, thus preventing the 'death' of handwriting. ...
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Grapholinguistics, the multifaceted study of writing systems, is growing increasingly popular, yet to date no coherent account covering and connecting its major branches exists. This book now gives an overview of the core theoretical and empirical questions of this field. A treatment of the structure of writing systems—their relation to speech and language, their material features, linguistic functions, and norms, as well as the different types in which they come—is complemented by perspectives centring on the use of writing, incorporating psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic issues such as reading processes or orthographic variation as social action. Examples stem from a variety of diverse systems such as Chinese, English, Japanese, Arabic, Thai, German, and Korean, which allows defining concepts in a broadly applicable way and thereby constructing a comparative grapholinguistic framework that provides readers with important tools for studying any writing system. The book emphasizes that grapholinguistics is a discipline in its own right, inviting discussion and further research in this up-and-coming field as well as an overdue integration of writing into general linguistic discussion.
... Central to this study are three domains recognized as key components of early writing development: handwriting, spelling, and composing (Kaderavek et al., 2009). Handwriting primarily concerns the ability to form letters fluently and legibly, including copying a written model (Graham, 2018). Spelling refers to the ability to produce the letters that represent sounds in words. ...
... Gradually, children begin to use the same forms in various combinations as their writing moves towards conventionality (Tolchinsky, 2006). Although precise and efficient letter formation should not be the sole focus of children's early writing experiences, supporting children's handwriting development can lead to greater handwriting fluency, thereby allowing children to devote more effort and concentration toward spelling and composing (Berninger & Amtmann, 2003;Graham, 2018). ...
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Writing is essential for communication in literate societies, and its successful acquisition and development is central to academic achievement. Beginning in early childhood, preschool-age children gradually develop componential skills within the domains of handwriting, spelling, and composing that ultimately enable them to translate thoughts and ideas into printed words to convey a message. Previous research has largely focused on teachers’ practices in the general classroom context. In this study, we applied a fine-grained approach to examine preschool teachers’ instructional practices for supporting children’s early writing skills in a dyadic (i.e., one-on-one) context. The key aims were: (1) to describe teachers’ supportive strategies for handwriting, spelling, and composing within a dyadic writing task; and (2) to determine whether teachers’ supportive strategies varied according to the domain of writing they addressed. We asked thirty teacher–child dyads to complete a picture description writing task, and used a researcher-developed coding scheme to document teachers’ supportive strategies. Descriptive analyses revealed that teachers frequently used directives, modeling, and closed-ended requests, and that there was wide variation in teachers’ supportive strategies for writing, Moreover, teachers’ instruction primarily focused on spelling and composing, and less so on handwriting. Accordingly, our findings help to complement and extend the extant literature regarding teachers’ writing practices by providing a detailed description of teachers’ strategies to facilitate children’s writing and demonstrating the ways in which these strategies vary within a dyadic context.
... On the other hand, in complex open-ended writing tasks, adults also have to consider how to focus young children's limited attentional resources (Graham, 2018a). While the importance of handwriting fluency for older writers is clearly established (e.g., Berninger, 2012;Graham, 2018b), further research is needed to examine the role of handwriting supports when preschoolers are engaged in open composing tasks (Dinehart, 2015). ...
... This made it difficult for teachers to understand their answers and provide accurate feedback, hindering effective assessment of the learners' progress. As mentioned by participant 14: (Graham, 2018). Additionally, it can lead to delays in grading and assessment, negatively impacting the learners' academic progress (Hattie & Clarke, 2018). ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic brought about unprecedented challenges in the field of education. Printed Modular Distance Learning (PMDL) was one of the most challenging modes of instruction in basic education, and the assessment stage posed specific difficulties for secondary school teachers in the Schools Division of Puerto Princesa City during the School Year 2020-2021. This research aimed to explore the real-life experiences of 15 secondary school teachers who taught via PMDL. Using a phenomenolog-ical study, the researcher conducted individual interviews with the teachers, who were chosen through purposive sampling. The study found that teachers encountered various challenges during the implementation of PMDL, with specific difficulties arising during the assessment stage. One of the significant problems reported by the participants was the submission of unanswered or incomplete modules by some students. Additionally , some learners had modules that were answered by their parents or other family members, while others copied answers directly from the internet or answer keys. The lack of names on modules and illegible handwriting also added to the challenges experienced by the teachers. Furthermore, the sheer volume of modules to be checked was a significant challenge for the participants. To ensure the quality and validity of module-based assessments, it is recommended that guidelines be provided to learners, monitoring and feedback mechanisms be put in place, and policies that prevent cheating be implemented. Educators should also have workload management strategies to ensure timely grading and feedback.
... Indeed, the time spent on paper and pencil tasks increases substantially from kindergarten to elementary school [4]. Writing legibly and efficiently is essential for later academic achievement, allowing children to express, communicate, and record ideas, and may have an effect on a child's selfesteem [5][6][7]. Writing is a very complex skill, involving both lower-level perceptual-motor processes and higherlevel cognitive process skills. A handwriting problem can therefore result from multiple factors including difficulties in language, cognitive, visual perceptual, visual motor integration and fine motor skills [8][9][10]. ...
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Background Therapists specializing in handwriting difficulties in children often address motor problems including both proximal and distal movements in the upper extremity. Kinematic measures can be used to investigate various aspects of handwriting. This study examined differences in movement patterns in proximal and distal joints of the upper extremity during graphomotor tasks between typically developing children with and without handwriting problems. Additionally, it explored relationships between movement patterns, speed, and legibility of writing. Methods Forty-one children, aged 7–11 years, were assessed with the Aleph Aleph Ktav Yad Hebrew Handwriting assessment and the Beery Test of Visual Motor Integration and, based on their scores, were divided into a research group (with handwriting difficulties) and a control group (without handwriting difficulties). Upper extremity joint movement patterns were analyzed with a motion capture system. Differences in the quality of shapes traced and copied on a graphics tablet positioned horizontally and vertically were compared. Between-group differences and relationships with speed and legibility were analyzed. Results In both groups, there was greater movement in the distal compared to the proximal joints, greater movement when performing the task in a horizontal compared to a vertical plane, and greater movement when tracing than copying. Joint movements in the arm executed scaled-down versions of the shapes being drawn. While the amount of joint displacement was similar between groups, children in the research group showed greater dissimilarity between the drawn shape and the shape produced by the proximal joints. Finally, the drawing measure on the tablet was a significant predictor of legibility, speed of writing, visual motor integration and motor coordination, whereas the dissimilarity measure of joint movement was a significant predictor of speed of writing and motor coordination. Conclusions This study provides support for the role of the distal upper extremity joints in the writing process and some guidance to assist clinicians in devising treatment strategies for movement-related handwriting problems. While we observed differences in proximal joint movements between the children with and without handwriting difficulties, the extent to which they are responsible for the differences in drawing quality remains to be determined. Further studies should use a similar methodology to examine additional tasks such as drawing shapes of varying sizes.
... This negative relationship between handwriting speed and handwriting quality was also observed in both cohorts, with significant correlations at different grades in the single-word dictation task (coh1: Grades 2 and 4; coh2: Grades 3 and 5). This relationship is in line with a commentary published by Graham (2018), raising the dilemma that students face between writing fast or writing neatly. While this observation was made at the text level for young adults, the present study addressed for the first time the issue of the relationship between speed and handwriting quality in children at the word level. ...
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Aim: Longitudinal studies are rare in the field of writing research, and little is known about the concurrent development of the two transcription skills: spelling and handwriting. This study was designed to provide a comprehensive picture of the development and the longitudinal relations between spelling, handwriting speed, and handwriting quality at the word level. Method: Over a period of 3 years (coh1: Grades 2–4; coh2: Grades 3–5), 117 French-speaking children were assessed on a single-word dictation task. At each testing time, measures of spelling accuracy, handwriting speed, and handwriting quality were collected on 40 words. Words varied in both orthographic and graphic complexity, making it possible to investigate the influence of these levels of complexity on transcription abilities. Results: Linear growth analyses using cross-classified Bayesian structural equation modeling (CC-BSEM) revealed that spelling and speed continued to improve until Grade 5, while handwriting quality reached an early plateau in Grade 2. In the younger cohort, graphic complexity had a significant influence on the pace of development of handwriting speed and on spelling and handwriting quality performance in Grade 2. In the older cohort, a positive relation between spelling and speed and a negative relation between handwriting speed and handwriting quality were found, indicating that fast handwriting is associated with high spelling ability and that fast handwriting is detrimental to handwriting quality. By providing a better understanding of writing development, this study yields innovative findings not only regarding the development of transcription skills but also regarding how spelling, handwriting speed, and handwriting quality can influence each other's performance throughout primary school.
This study described the features of writing instruction in widely used kindergarten English Language Arts programs and examined their alignment with evidence-based, best-practice guidelines. Three popular curricula were selected for analyses: Reading Wonders, Journeys, and Reading Street. Our coding of teacher manuals focused on instructional provisions for composing, spelling, and handwriting in key instructional sections within each curriculum: (1) genre writing, (2) grammar, and (3) reading instruction. Lessons for coding were sampled from the beginning, middle, and end of each program, comprising 12 weeks of instruction. Results indicated that, although variable across curricula, there were several features of writing instruction that aligned with evidence-based guidelines. All curricula included daily writing lessons and activities, along with provisions for teaching the writing process and basic writing skills (i.e., sentence construction, spelling, handwriting). However, instruction in basic writing skills were often isolated and support for these skills was rarely embedded within the context of children’s own written compositions. In addition, children had relatively less opportunities to independently write their own compositions in genre writing compared to teacher modeling writing or using shared writing. Results of this study could inform efforts to revise or develop curricula to better facilitate the writing development of kindergartners.
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Handwriting research lies mostly within discipline-specific boundaries, hindering knowledge transfer across disciplines into academic skills instruction in schools. This paper attempts to review the literature on handwriting across the occupational therapy and education disciplines to propose an interdisciplinary conceptual framework to guide research and intervention on handwriting in the Malay language. This cross-disciplinary review revealed four major factors that may influence Malay language handwriting: i) neuromotor development; ii) ergonomic; iii) orthographic and iv) cognitive factors. The sub-factors under these four major factors also are identified. Many of the neuromotor development and ergonomic factors are derived from the occupational therapy discipline, while the education discipline provides most of the information on orthographic and cognitive factors. As orthography influences handwriting, it is necessary to revisit handwriting from the perspective of languages other than English. In conclusion, an interdisciplinary framework of handwriting synthesised from this crossdisciplinary review will stimulate more coordinated and coherent research on handwriting. The Malay language serves as a future case study for research into orthographies in handwriting.
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This article presents a revised version of the writer(s)-within-community model of writing. Writing is conceptualized as a social activity situated within specific writing communities. Writing in these communities is accomplished by its members. The model proposes that writing is simultaneously shaped and bound by the characteristics, capacity, and variability of the communities in which it takes place and by the cognitive characteristics, capacity, and individual differences of those who produce it. The model further proposes that writing development is a consequence of participation in writing communities and individual changes in writers’ capabilities, which interact with biological, neurological, physical, and environmental factors. This newer version of the model places a greater emphasis on communication and the reader. It expands the description of a writing community to include the social, cultural, political, institutional, and historical influences that shape it. It further describes the tenets that underlie the operation of the model.
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People write for many reasons. Writing is used as a tool to record ideas and information, communicate with others, chronicle experiences, express one's feelings, persuade others, facilitate learning, create imagined worlds, and evaluate students' competence (Graham, 2006). In some instances, the only intended reader of a piece of writing is the author. Examples of such writing include diaries, to do lists, and lecture notes. In other instances, writing is meant to be both read and formally evaluated by others. This kind of writing can range from term papers to state and federal writing assessments to writing requirements included as part of college entrance applications.
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While there are many ways to author text today, writing with paper and pen (or pencil) is still quite common at home and work, and predominates writing at school. Because handwriting can bias readers’ judgments about the ideas in a text and impact other writing processes, like planning and text generation, it is important to ensure students develop legible and fluent handwriting. This meta-analysis examined true- and quasi-experimental intervention studies conducted with K-12 students to determine if teaching handwriting enhanced legibility and fluency and resulted in better writing performance. When compared to no instruction or non-handwriting instructional conditions, teaching handwriting resulted in statistically greater legibility (ES = 0.59) and fluency (ES = 0.63). Motor instruction did not produce better handwriting skills (ES = 0.10 for legibility and −0.07 for fluency), but individualizing handwriting instruction (ES = 0.69) and teaching handwriting via technology (ES = 0.85) resulted in statistically significant improvements in legibility. Finally, handwriting instruction produced statistically significant gains in the quality (ES = 0.84), length (ES = 1.33), and fluency of students’ writing (ES = 0.48). The findings from this meta-analysis provide support for one of the assumptions underlying the Simple View of Writing (Berninger et al., Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 291–304, 2002): text transcription skills are an important ingredient in writing and writing development.
The subject of this book is the mental activities that go into composing written texts. For brevity we will often refer to the subject simply as writing, but the term should not be taken too literally. In this book we are not concerned with the physical act of writing, except insofar as it influences other processes. The mental activities of writing considered in our research are the same kinds of higher mental processes that figure in cognitive research on all aspects of human intelligence. They include goal setting, planning, memory search, problem solving, evaluation, and diagnosis. Writing is, of course, easily recognized as an activity in which a good deal of human intelligence is put to use. Its neglect, until very recently, by cognitive scientists is, however, easy to understand. Cognitive research has been gradually working its way from well-defined to ill-defined problems, from tasks that draw on limited knowledge to tasks that draw on large bodies of knowledge, and from tasks that are easily constrained experimentally to ones that are more susceptible to intentions of the participants. On all of these counts, writing lies far out on the yet-to-be-reached end of the continuum. © 1987 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.
Before the Computer fully explores the data processing industry in the United States from its nineteenth-century inception down to the period when the computer became its primary tool. As James Cortada describes what was once called the "office appliance industry," he challenges our view of the digital computer as a revolutionary technology. Cortada interprets reliance on computers as a development within an important segment of the American economy that was earlier represented largely by such instruments as typewriters, tabulating machines, adding machines, and calculators. He also describes how many of the practices of the office appliance industry evolved into those of the computer world. Drawing on previously unavailable industry archives, the author adds to our understanding of IBM's early history and offers short corporate histories of firms that include NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand. Focusing on the United States but also including comparative material on Europe and Asia, Before the Computer will be a unique source of knowledge about the companies that built office equipment and their enormous impact on economic life.
This paper presents a special issue on writing around the globe. Researchers from across the world describe writing practices in their country using a wide variety of methodology. The paper show that while there are many similarities in writing instruction from one country to the next, there are also many differences. As a result, the authors call for a new international study of writing, one that takes more descriptive rather than a comparative approach.