This study used a multiple-probe design across three participants to test the effectiveness of a handwriting intervention for fifth graders (age 10–11) displaying less handwriting fluency than their peers, but without spelling disorders. The 5-h handwriting intervention provided students with explicit instruction and intensive practice in writing cursive letters, words, and sentences, through fast-paced alphabet and copying activities. Intervention effects were examined on handwriting fluency, written composition (i.e., text length, clause extension, and story elements), and self-efficacy beliefs. Results showed that the handwriting intervention was highly effective in increasing students’ handwriting fluency. There were also improvements in written composition in terms of clause extension and number of story elements. After the intervention, students also reported strengthened self-efficacy beliefs for grammar and usage skills. Overall, this study showed that handwriting interventions can effectively help students with limited handwriting skills to become fluent handwriters. Critically, findings are in line with the proposition that achieving handwriting fluency is important to support the development of writing.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
PND scores correspond to the percentage of data points in a given phase that are above the highest datum point in the baseline phase.
Abbott, R. D., & Berninger, V. W. (1993). Structural equation modeling of relationships among developmental skills and writing skills in primary- and intermediate-grade writers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 478–508. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0618.104.22.1688.
Alves, R. A., & Limpo, T. (2015a). Fostering the capabilities that build writing achievement. In P. McCardle & C. Connor (Eds.), Reading intervention: From research to practice to research (pp. 209–220). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
Alves, R. A., & Limpo, T. (2015b). Progress in written language bursts, pauses, transcription, and written composition across schooling. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19, 374–391. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888438.2015.1059838.
Alves, R. A., Limpo, T., Fidalgo, R., Carvalhais, L., Pereira, L. A., & Castro, S. L. (2016). The impact of promoting transcription on early text production: Effects on bursts and Pauses, levels of written language, and writing performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108, 665–679. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000089.
Archer, A. L., & Hughes, C. A. (2011). Explicit instruction: Effective and efficient teaching. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Baddeley, A. D. (2007). Working memory, thought and action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Barnett, A. L., Henderson, S., Scheib, B., & Schulz, J. (2007). The detailed assessment of speed of handwriting. London: Harcourt Assessment.
Berman, R. A., & Slobin, D. I. (Eds.). (1994). Relating events in narrative: A crosslinguistic developmental study. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Berninger, V. W., Mizokawa, D. T., & Bragg, R. (1991). Theory-based diagnosis and remediation of writing disabilities. Journal of School Psychology, 29, 57–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-4405(91)90016-K.
Berninger, V. W., Vaughan, K. B., Abbott, R. D., Abbott, S. P., Rogan, L. W., Brooks, A., et al. (1997). Treatment of handwriting problems in beginning writers: Transfer from handwriting to composition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 652–666. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0622.214.171.1242.
Bourdin, B., & Fayol, M. (2000). Is graphic activity cognitively costly? A developmental approach. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 13, 183–196. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1026458102685.
Buesco, H. C., Morais, J., Rocha, M. R., & Magalhães, V. F. (2015). Programas e metas-curriculares de Português do ensino básico [Programs and curricular goals of Portuguese language in basic education]. Lisboa: Ministério da Educação e da Ciência.
Camacho, A., & Alves, R. A. (2017). Fostering parental involvement in writing: Development and testing of the program Cultivating Writing. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 30, 253–277. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-016-9672-6.
Fayol, M. (1999). From on-line management problems to strategies in written composition. In M. Torrance & G. Jeffery (Eds.), The cognitive demands of writing: Processing capacity and working memory effects in text production (pp. 13–23). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Gast, D. L. (2010). Single-subject research methodology in behavioral sciences. New York, NY: Routledge.
Graham, S. (1990). The role of production factors in learning disabled students’ compositions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 781–791. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-06126.96.36.1991.
Graham, S. (2009). Want to improve children’s writing? Don’t neglect their handwriting. American Educator, 33, 20–40.
Graham, S., Berninger, V. W., Abbott, R. D., Abbott, S. P., & Whitaker, D. (1997). Role of mechanics in composing of elementary school students: A new methodological approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 170–182. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.52.
Graham, S., & Harris, K. R. (2000). The role of self-regulation and transcription skills in writing and writing development. Educational Psychologist, 35, 3–12. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326985EP3501_2.
Graham, S., Harris, K. R., & Fink-Chorzempa, B. (2000). Is handwriting causally related to learning to write? Treatment of handwriting problems in beginning writers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 620–633. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.2060.
Graham, S., Olinghouse, N. G., & Harris, K. R. (2009). Teaching composing to students with learning disabilities: Scientifically supported recommendations. In G. A. Troia (Ed.), Instruction and assessment for struggling writers: Evidence-based practices (pp. 165–186). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for adolescent students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 445–476. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.115.
Graham, S., Weintraub, N., Berninger, V. W., & Schafer, W. (1998). Development of handwriting speed and legibility in grades 1–9. The Journal of Educational Research, 92, 42–52. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220679809597574.
Harris, K. R., & Graham, S. (2009). Self-regulated strategy development in writing: Premises, evolution, and the future. British Journal of Educational Psychology Monograph Series, II(6), 113–135. https://doi.org/10.1348/978185409X422542.
Hayes, J. R., & Berninger, V. W. (2010). Relationships between idea generation and transcription: How the act of writing shapes what children write. In C. Bazerman, R. Krut, K. Lunsford, S. Mcleod, S. Null, L. A. Rogers, & A. Stansell (Eds.), Traditions of writing research. Taylor & Francis/Routledge: New York, NY.
Hayes, J. R., & Flower, L. (1986). Writing research and the writer. American Psychologist, 41, 1106–1113. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.41.10.1106.
Jones, D., & Christensen, C. A. (1999). Relationship between automaticity in handwriting and students’ ability to generate written text. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 44–49. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-0618.104.22.168.
Kandel, S., Hérault, L., Grosjacques, G., Lambert, E., & Fayol, M. (2009). Orthographic vs. phonologic syllables in handwriting production. Cognition, 110, 440–444. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2008.12.001.
Kellogg, R. T. (1996). A model of working memory in writing. In C. M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing (pp. 57–71). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Limpo, T., & Alves, R. A. (2013a). Modeling writing development: Contribution of transcription and self-regulation to Portuguese students’ text generation quality. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 401–413. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031391.
Limpo, T., & Alves, R. A. (2013b). Teaching planning or sentence-combining strategies: Effective SRSD interventions at different levels of written composition. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38, 328–341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2013.07.004.
Limpo, T., & Alves, R. A. (2014). Implicit theories of writing and their impact on students’ response to a SRSD intervention. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 571–590. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12042.
Limpo, T., & Alves, R. A. (2017a). Tailoring multicomponent writing interventions: The effects of coupling self-regulation and transcription training. Journal of Learning Disabilities. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022219417708170.
Limpo, T., & Alves, R. A. (2017b). Written language bursts mediate the relationship between transcription skills and writing performance. Written Communication, 34, 306–332. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088317714234.
Limpo, T., Alves, R. A., & Connelly, V. (2017). Examining the transcription-writing link: Effects of handwriting fluency and spelling accuracy on writing performance via planning and translating in middle grades. Learning and Individual Differences, 53, 26–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2016.11.004.
MacWhinney, B. (2000). The Childes project: Tools for analyzing talk. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
McCutchen, D. (1988). “Functional automaticity” in children’s writing: A problem of metacognitive control. Written Communication, 5, 306–324. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088388005003003.
McCutchen, D. (1996). A capacity theory of writing: Working memory in composition. Educational Psychology Review, 8, 299–325. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01464076.
McCutchen, D. (2000). Knowledge, processing, and working memory: Implications for a theory of writing. Educational Psychologist, 35, 13–23. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326985EP3501_3.
Olinghouse, N. G., & Graham, S. (2009). The relationship between the discourse knowledge and the writing performance of elementary-grade students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 37–50. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013248.
Olive, T., & Kellogg, R. T. (2002). Concurrent activation of high- and low-level production processes in written composition. Memory & Cognition, 30, 594–600. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03194960.
Pagliarini, E., Scocchia, L., Vernice, M., Zoppello, M., Balottin, U., Bouamama, S., et al. (2017). Children’s first handwriting productions show a rhythmic structure. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 5516. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-05105-6.
Pajares, F. (2003). Self-efficacy beliefs, motivation, and achievement in writing: A review of the literature. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 19, 139–158. https://doi.org/10.1080/10573560390143085.
Pajares, F. (2007). Empirical properties of a scale to assess writing self-efficacy in school contexts. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 39, 238–249.
Pajares, F., & Valiante, G. (1999). Grade level and gender differences in the writing self-beliefs of middle school students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 24, 390–405. https://doi.org/10.1006/ceps.1998.0995.
Santangelo, T., & Graham, S. (2016). A comprehensive meta-analysis of handwriting instruction. Educational Psychological Review, 28, 225–265. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-015-9335-1.
Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1983). The development of evaluative, diagnostic and remedial capabilities in children’s composing. In M. Martlew (Ed.), The psychology of written language: Development and educational perspectives (pp. 67–95). New York, NY: Wiley.
Seymour, P., Aro, M., & Erskine, J. (2003). Foundation literacy acquisition in European orthographies. British Journal of Psychology, 94, 143–174. https://doi.org/10.1348/000712603321661859.
Stein, N. L., & Trabasso, T. (1982). What’s in a story? An approach to comprehension and instruction. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in instructional psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 213–267). Hillsdale, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum Associates.
Sumner, E., Connelly, V., & Barnett, A. L. (2013). Children with dyslexia are slow writers because they pause more often and not because they are slow at handwriting execution. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26, 991–1008. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-012-9403-6.
Wechsler, D. (1991). Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – (3rd ed.). San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
The study reported in this article was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (Grant SFRH/BPD/100494/2014 attributed to the first author) and it benefited from networking at COST Action IS1401ELN (www.is1401eln.eu).
About this article
Cite this article
Limpo, T., Parente, N. & Alves, R.A. Promoting handwriting fluency in fifth graders with slow handwriting: a single-subject design study. Read Writ 31, 1343–1366 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-017-9814-5
- Handwriting fluency
- Written composition
- Self-efficacy beliefs
- Handwriting intervention
- Single-subject design