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Lower-level developmental skills in beginning writing

Abstract

A battery of predictor measures (neuromotor, orthographic, visual-motor integration, syllable and phoneme segmentation, word finding, sentence syntax, reading, and verbal intelligence) and of writing criterion measures (handwriting, spelling, and composition) was administered to an equal number of girls and boys in the first, second, and third grades (N=30) to study the developmental skills children bring to the task of learning to write. This developmental approach is an important complement to the prevailing process and product approaches to writing research. Multiple regression and canonical correlation results supported thehypothesis that lower-level developmental variables are related to beginning writing skills. Rapid, automatic production of alphabet letters, rapid coding of orthographic information, and speed of sequential finger movement were the best predictors of handwriting and composition skills. Orthographic-phonological mappings and visual-motor integration were the best predictors of spelling. Canonical correlation analysis identified anorthographic-linguistic dimension and anautomaticity dimension in the battery of developmental skills and of writing products. Results also supported the hypothesis that the translation component in process models of writing has two separable sub-components — text generation and transcription. Lower-level developmental skills are thought to constrain the transcription sub-component.

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Correspondence to Virginia Berninger.

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Berninger, V., Yates, C., Cartwright, A. et al. Lower-level developmental skills in beginning writing. Read Writ 4, 257–280 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01027151

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Keywords

  • Automaticity
  • Composition
  • Handwriting
  • Orthographic coding
  • Spelling
  • Writing acquisition
  • Writing disorders