Curriculum-Based Handwriting Programs – What Does the Research Say?

Curriculum-Based Handwriting Programs - What Does the Research Say?Curriculum-Based Handwriting Programs – What Does the Research Say?

The American Journal Of Occupational Therapy recently published a systemic review of curriculum-based handwriting programs for students in preschool through second grade.  Challenges with handwriting in school can have a negative impact on academic performance, Occupational therapy practitioners frequently help students improve handwriting legibility, speed, and fluency.

After reviewing 13 studies, the researchers identified the following:

  • curriculum-based handwriting interventions resulted in small- to medium-sized improvements in legibility.
  • mixed evidence for improvements in handwriting speed.
  • insufficient evidence for improved fluency.
  • after review of 9 handwriting curriculums, no clear support was found for one handwriting program over another.
  • 6 wk of intervention (about 15 hours) may be sufficient to improve legibility.

Certain handwriting programs provided greater benefits with regards to legibility or speed.  For example,  the Size Matters Handwriting Program may be the best choice for classrooms for which the primary goal is legibility but not speed.   If the primary goal is handwriting speed, the research indicated that the explicit handwriting program (from Kaiser et. al), Write Start, or the intensive handwriting program from (Howe et al.) might be the best choice.

The researchers recommended that Level I research is needed to validate the efficacy of these curricula.

Reference:  Engel, C., Lillie, K., Zurawski, S., & Travers, B. G. (2018). Curriculum-Based Handwriting Programs: A Systematic Review With Effect Sizes. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(3), 7203205010p1-7203205010p8.

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Curriculum-Based Handwriting Programs - What Does the Research Say?