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Research and Results

Overview of Research

An overview of research both with our program and the importance of brain hand connectivity.

Drawing Children Into Reading: A Longitudinal Study at South Haven Maple Grove Elementary

By Marlene and Robert Smith
Report to the South Haven Community Foundation (2011)
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The South Haven Community Foundation sponsored a study of the curriculum used with Drawn To Discover. Two groups of students were compared in the 3rd grade: one group who received a weekly, 70-minute drawing lesson from Wendy Halperin for two years (Kindergarten and 1st grade) and a control group who did not receive the lessons. The positive effects of the lessons were retained through 2nd and 3rd grade. Participating students demonstrated superior penmanship, story writing (including 50% more words generated) and observation skills. Additionally, these students achieved higher performances on the state-wide reading assessment.

Handwriting Generates Variable Visual Output to Facilitate Symbol Learning

By Julia X. Li and Karin H. James
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (2016)
Volume 145, No. 3, pp. 298–313

This study investigated why handwriting helps letter learning in children. Seventy-two 5-year old children were measured on a categorization task across six different types of learning conditions. Results demonstrated that children who experienced a greater variety of examples while learning, performed better on the recognition task. “Our results suggest that letter categorization ability would be enhanced with increased handwriting practice and/or learning multiple examples of letters in various ways.”

Want to Improve Children’s Writing? Don’t Neglect Their Handwriting

By Steve Graham
American Educator (Winter 2009-2010)
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Numerous studies have found that proper, early handwriting instruction not only improves legibility, it also improves the quantity and quality of children’s writing. When children develop fluent, legible handwriting, they can better focus on generating and organizing ideas. The best way to develop this legibility is through carefully planned, explicit handwriting instruction. Yet, in a nation-wide survey, researchers found that only 39% of 1st – 3rd grade teachers reported that their students’ handwriting was adequate. Moreover, only 12% reported receiving adequate preparation in their college education courses to teach handwriting skills.

The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand over Laptop Note Taking

By Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer
Psychological Science (July 30, 2014)

Despite growing popularity, using laptops for note taking may do more harm than good. Three studies examined the learning effects of typing classroom lecture notes on a laptop versus using written, longhand note taking for college students. The studies found that using laptops for note taking, even when controlled for the potential distractions they may cause, resulted in shallower processing by students. Students who wrote notes by hand better processed information, reframing it into their own words and, thus, performed higher on classroom tests.

Handwriting in Early Childhood Education: Current Research and Future Implications

By Laura H. Dinehart
Journal of Early Childhood Literacy (2014)
Volume 15, No. 1, pp. 97-118

In this review of the literature on handwriting and its place in early childhood education, Dr. Laura Dinehart with the Department of Teaching and Learning at Florida International University, clearly demonstrates the link between handwriting and academic achievement. Even in this increasingly digital age, fine motor writing skills and handwriting readiness are very important for children entering school. Such readiness can be “critical to improving academic skills in the long run.” Dr. Dinehart calls upon educators “to develop and implement programmes (sic) they know to be best practice when teaching early handwriting or handwriting ‘readiness’ skills.”

How Handwriting Trains the Brain

By Gwendolyn Bounds
Wall Street Journal (October 5, 2010)

Writing freehand is more than a way to communicate. The skill of writing can improve idea composition, expression and fine motor skill development. According to Dr. Karin James, professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University, “It seems there is something really important about manipulating and drawing out 2D things we see all the time”.

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