The research on handwriting

We get asked from time to time what our opinion is on handwriting. We don’t really hold a strong personal opinion on the matter but rather look at the position taken by current research. With this in mind, we have set up this page to share links to relevant research that people may find interesting reading.

Having read the research ourselves, we conclude that we would want children to feel they can write quickly and happily and to feel confident that others can read their writing too.

Research specific to the early years:

  • Jones, C. (2014) Effects of writing instruction on kindergarten students’ writing achievement: an experimental study. The journal of Educational research, 108 (1), 35–44 [LINK]
  • Rowe, D. (2018) The Unrealized Promise of Emergent Writing: Reimagining the Way Forward for Early Writing Instruction Language Arts 95(4) pp.229-241 [LINK]
  • Graham, S., Harris, K., Adkins, M. (2018) The impact of supplemental handwriting and spelling instruction with first grade students who do not acquire transcription skills as rapidly as peers: a randomized control trial Read Writ 31:1273-1294 [LINK]
  • Malpique, A., Pino-Pasternak, D., Valcan, D. (2017). Handwriting automaticity and writing instruction in Australian kindergarten: An exploratory study Reading & Writing 30(8) 1789-1812 [LINK]
  • Malpique, A., Pino-Pasternak, D., Roberto, M. (2020) Writing and reading performance in Year 1 Australian classrooms: associations with handwriting automaticity and writing instruction Reading & Writing 33 pp.783-805 [LINK]
  • Puranik, C., AlOtaiba, S. (2012) Examining the contribution of handwriting and spelling to written expression in kindergarten children Read Writ 25:1523-1546 [LINK]

General handwriting research:

  • Alves, R., Limpo, T., Salas, N., and Joshi, R. (2019). Handwriting and spelling. In Best Practices in Writing Instruction, Graham, S., MacArthur, C., and Hebert, M. (Eds.) (3rd Ed.) (pp.211–240). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Berninger, V.W., and Amtmann, D. (2003). Preventing written expression disabilities through early and continuing assessment and intervention for handwriting and/or spelling problems: Research into practice. In Handbook of Learning Disabilities, Swanson, H.L., Harris, K.R., and Graham, S. (Eds.) (pp. 345–363). New York: Guilford Press.
  • Graham, S. (2009). Want to improve children’s writing?: Don’t neglect their handwriting. American Educator, 33, 20–40. [LINK]
  • Medwell, J., and Wray, D. (2007). Handwriting: What do we know and what do we need to know? Literacy, 41(1), 10–16. [LINK]
  • Santangelo, T., Graham, S. (2016) A Comprehensive Meta-analysis of Handwriting Instruction Educational Psychology Review 28:225-265 [LINK]
Be reassuringly consistent

This chapter begins with a discussion of the importance of teaching the essential writing skills children require if they are to produce successful texts. This includes reflecting on the simple view of writing and what cognitive writing research has contributed to this area. The authors consider the cognitive load, metacognition, and demands on working memory involved when pupils compose and transcribe texts. They then explore what research and case studies into effective practice have been able to offer teachers in terms of successful and powerful writing instruction. The discussion includes developing children’s handwriting, typing, spelling, and editing (proof-reading) abilities. The chapter concludes with examples of effective practice from the classrooms of high-performing Writing For Pleasure teachers.

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