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Manuscript, Cursive or Keyboarding?

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The Journal of Writing Research published a study on developing writers in grades 4-7 to compare manuscript , cursive and keyboard letter formation.  One study instructed the children to write the alphabet from memory as quickly as they could without sacrificing legibility since previous research indicated that the number of legible manuscript letters in correct order during the first 15 seconds is an index of automatic letter access, retrieval, and production. Each of the 113 neurotypical participants were instructed to form the letters of the alphabet from memory for 15 seconds as manuscript letters, cursive letters and keyboarded letters.  In addition, two spelling measures and one composition measure were administered in order to establish their relationship with handwriting.   For the study one the following results were found:

  1. only the cursive mode uniquely, positively, and consistently predicted both spelling and composing in each grade.
  2.  for composing, in grade 4 manuscript mode was positively predictive.
  3.  for composing in grades 5-7 keyboard selection was positively predictive.

A second study was performed comparing 88 students : 27 with dysgraphia (impaired handwriting),  40 with dyslexia (impaired word spelling), or 11 with oral and written language learning disability (OWL LD) or  10 controls without specific writing disabilities in grades 4 to 9  on the same alphabet 15 modes, manner of copying, spelling, and sentence composing.  The results from this study indicated:

  1.  all letter production modes correlated with each other and the participant’s best and fast sentence copying, spelling, and timed sentence composing.
  2.  groups with specific writing disabilities differed from  the control group on alphabet 15 manuscript mode, copy fast, and timed sentence composing.
  3.  the dysgraphia group scored lower than the dyslexia group on copying sentences in your best handwriting.

The researchers concluded that students need continuing handwriting instruction as well as explicit keyboard instruction (touch typing) beyond fourth grade.  They recommend that the continuing handwriting and keyboard instruction is provided once or twice a week with students doing warm-ups such as (a) writing the alphabet from memory, (b) copying interesting target sentences containing all the letters of the alphabet, (c) writing letters that come before and after other named letters, or (d) exchanging papers and circling letters that are illegible and discussing how to make them legible to others for purposes of written communication. These warm up/reviews should be followed by more cognitively engaging writing tasks.

With respect to study two, the authors recommend that students with specific learning disabilities that impair writing skills (handwriting, spelling, and/or composing) may need need accommodations (e.g., allowing more time to complete written work or using a laptop)
and continuing explicit instruction in alphabet letter access, retrieval, and production and copying words in sentence context and using multiple modes of letter production in spelling and composition instruction.

Reference:  Alstad, Z. et al (2015).  Modes of alphabet letter production during middle childhood and adolescence: Inter-relationships with each other and other writing skills. Journal of Writing Research, 6(3),199 -231

Handwriting Stations includes the materials to create a handwriting station on a tri-fold or in a folder. The station includes proper letter formation for capital and lower case letters, correct posture, pencil grip, warm up exercises, letter reversals tips and self check sheet. In addition, there are 27 worksheets for the alphabet and number practice (Handwriting without Tears® style and Zaner-Bloser® style). This download is great for classroom use, therapy sessions or to send home with a student.

Handwriting Stations encourages:
1.  handwriting practice
2.  visual motor skills
3.  visual reminders for proper letter formation.

FIND OUT MORE AT http://www.yourtherapysource.com/hwstation.html