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Modes of alphabet letter production during middle childhood and adolescence: Inter-relationships with each other and other writing skills

Alstad, Z., Sanders, E., Abbott, R. D., Barnett, A., Henderson, S., Connelly, V., & Berninger, V. (2015)
Journal of Writing Research, 6(3),199 -231

Although handwriting is typically taught during early childhood and keyboarding may not be taught explicitly, both may be relevant to writing development in the later grades. Thus, Study 1 investigated automatic production of the ordered alphabet from memory for manuscript (unjoined), cursive (joined), keyboard letter modes (alphabet 15 sec), their relationships with each other, and spelling and composing in typically developing writers in grades 4 to 7 (n =113). Study 2 compared students with dysgraphia (impaired handwriting, n=27), dyslexia (impaired word spelling, n=40), or oral and written language learning disability (OWL LD) (impaired syntax composing, n=11) or controls without specific writing disabilities (n=10) in grades 4 to 9 (n=88) on the same alphabet 15 modes, manner of copying, spelling, and sentence composing. In Study 1, sequential multilevel model regressions of predictor alphabet 15 letter production/selection modes on spelling and composition outcomes, measured annually from grade 4 to grade 7 (ages 9 to 13 years), showed that only the cursive mode uniquely, positively, and consistently predicted both spelling and composing in each grade. For composing, in grade 4 manuscript mode was positively predictive and in grades 5-7 keyboard selection was. In Study 2 all letter production modes correlated with each other and one’s best and fast sentence copying, spelling, and timed sentence composing. The groups with specific writing disabilities differed from control group on alphabet 15 manuscript mode, copy fast, and timed sentence composing. The dysgraphia and dyslexia groups differed on copying sentences in one’s best handwriting, with the dysgraphia group scoring lower. The educational and theoretical significance of the findings are discussed for multiple modes and manners of letter production/selection of the alphabet that support spelling and composing beyond the early grades in students with and without specific writing disabilities.

PDF | doi: 10.17239/jowr-2015.06.03.1

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