July 06, 2015 11:45 UTC

Which Makes the Better Writer: the Hand or the Keyboard? Age Is a Part

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story

AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on WORDMASTER: we talk with an expert on children and handwriting.

RS: Virginia Berninger is an educational psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. She tells us about a study which found that children sometimes do a better job as writers when they compose the words by hand than when they type them on a keyboard.   

VIRGINIA BERNINGER: "And this was a chance to follow over two hundred children -- it was about two hundred forty -- longitudinally, once a year for five years. And I looked comprehensively at writing development. And what we found, which was very surprising to us, is that they wrote longer essays, they wrote the words faster. And, in the paper just published, they wrote more complete sentences in fourth and sixth grade when they were writing in handwriting by pen than when writing on keyboard.

"And then a colleague of mine, Dick Hayes at Carnegie Mellon University, who kind of started the field of cognitive research and writing, he analyzed the data independently of me, and found out that the children expressed more ideas when they were writing by pen than [when] they were writing by keyboard."

RS: "What does that tell you about teaching and learning?"

VIRGINIA BERNINGER: "Now that we've done some brain research with writing, and we've found what other people have done, there's reason to believe that when you write by hand, handwriting, you engage the thinking parts of the brain differently than when you do the keyboarding.

"At least, and I want to make this very, very clear, we qualify our findings to the ages we studied, or the grade levels. We studied children in second, fourth and sixth grade. We think this may all change and even out during adolescence. But at least in the developmental stages of learning to write, there was this advantage of writing by pen.

"There's one other aspect to this: In five years of following these children who were normally developing, we discovered eight of them that would meet our research criteria for a specific writing disability. And, at least in the U.S., the focus is on reading disabilities, and they're not identifying and serving children with writing disabilities to nearly the same extent that they are with reading disabilities. So I have a lot of parents who e-mail me, leave voice mail, write, very concerned, and come see me."

AA: "And you're talking about, for example, dysgraphia, the inability to -- "

RS: "Dyslexia. Or is it conceptual?"

VIRGINIA BERNINGER: "Well, with writing disability, it can affect any aspect of the writing process. But when we talk about dysgraphia, those are the handwriting and spelling problems. And, yes, I would say those are the ones that are not getting identified and served, and parents are very frustrated about this. Because what the schools are doing, they see a child with a writing problem like handwriting or spelling, and they just give him a laptop as an accommodation.

"And what we're trying to educate them about is they have to do more. They still should help them with their handwriting. They can teach them how to use laptops. But they need to continue to teach them what we call the transcription process and also the transfer to composition. They need a comprehensive, explicit writing instruction where they learn to express ideas as well as spell words and have handwriting instruction and keyboarding instruction, even when they have those writing disabilities."

AA: "You know, I'm fascinated by this connection between, or apparent connection between handwriting and idea formation, the idea that if you're actually committing your ideas to paper the old-fashioned way with a pen -- or, I assume, a pencil -- that maybe you're actually thinking more deeply or more creatively than if you're just typing away, as we do, on a keyboard, on a computer."

VIRGINIA BERNINGER: "Right, and remember, we're not generalizing to adults. We didn't study adults, and as a researcher I have to restrict my conclusions to the age of the children I studied. So we're just saying from approximately eight years to about twelve years -- or seven to twelve, let's say -- that these findings apply. And we're not saying we shouldn't be teaching keyboards or using computers. We're just saying we should still teach the handwriting."

RS: The findings appear in the journal Learning Disability Quarterly. We'll talk more next week with University of Washington educational psychologist Virginia Berninger. She's given us a list of instructional resources for writing which you can find at our Web site, voanews.com/wordmaster.

AA: We'd be glad to pass on your questions to Professor Berninger. Just click on the Contact Us link at the bottom of the page.  And that's WORDMASTER for this week. With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.

___

The following was prepared by V. W. Berninger, Ph.D., director of the University of Washington Literacy Trek Write Stuff Intervention Project and Longitudinal Study, and the Multidisciplinary Learning Disabilities Center:

Books on Evidence-Based Writing Instruction

1. Graham, S., MacArthur, C., & Fitzgerald, J. (2007). "Best practices in writing instruction."  NY: Guilford.

2. Berninger, V. (2007). "Process Assessment of the Learner II User’s Guide." San Antonio, TX: Harcourt/PsyCorp. (CD format) ISBN 0158661818  Second Revision issued August 2008. Contains lists of resources for writing instruction and explains how to link writing assessment and writing intervention. Has published writing lessons from the UW research program that can be downloaded. Is in the "PAL II Test Battery for Reading and Writing."

3. Morris, R.  & Mather, N.  (Eds.) (2008). "Evidence-based interventions for students with learning and behavioral challenges" (pp. 215-235). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (LEA).
 
4. Troia, G.  (Ed.) (2008). "Writing Instruction and Assessment for Struggling Writers From Theory to Evidence Based Practices." New York: Guilford.

Book on Evidence-Based Issues in Motivation for Writing (Social/Emotional Issues)

S. Hidi, &  P. Boscolo (Eds).  "Motivation in writing" (pp. 159-179).  Originally Amsterdam, Elsevier, now Emerald, Australia.

Integrating Transcription (Handwriting/Spelling) With Composition


Berninger, V., & Abbott, S. (2003) Lesson Sets 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 in "PAL Research-Supported Reading and Writing Lessons," Harcourt: San Antonio.

Integrating Writing and Reading in Motivating, Authentic Contexts

1. Berninger, V., & Abbott, S. (2003). Lesson Sets 13 and 14 in "PAL Research-Supported Reading and Writing Lessons," Harcourt: San Antonio. Lesson Sets 8, 9, and 10 for composition only.
        
2. Berninger, V., & Wolf, B.  (2009a).  "Teaching students with dyslexia and dysgraphia: Lessons from teaching and science." Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

3. Berninger, V., & Wolf, B.  (2009b). "Helping students with dyslexia and dysgraphia make connections: Differentiated instruction lesson plans in reading and writing." Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. Spiral book with teaching plans from University of Washington Research Program.
       
Self-Regulated Writing Strategies (Handwriting, Spelling, Composing)


1. Graham, S., & Harris, K. (2005).  "Writing Better.  Effective Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Difficulties."  Baltimore, MD:  Paul H. Brookes.

2. Harris, K. R., Graham, S.,  Mason, L., & Friedlander, B. (2008). "Powerful writing strategies for all students." Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

Web Site with Resources for Students Learning Written English

Web address for the software English Discoveries. Once you reach the Web site, you can navigate it by clicking on one of the menu items on the left hand side of the page.
 
http://techno-ware-esl.com/engdisc.html


Overview of Writing Skills and Instruction for Parents and Teachers:

Carter, A., Carroll, S., Page, L., & and Romero, I. (Eds.) (2008). "Helping Children at Home and School:  Handouts for families and educators."  Bethesda, MD:  National Association of School Psychologists. (2008). See Handout by Berninger and Dunn for Writing in Intermediate and Secondary Grades. Also for the Preschool and Elementary grades.
        
Resources for Teaching Handwriting

1. Zaner-Bloser Zaner-Bloser handwriting programs for use in general education. See www.zaner-bloser.com/fresh/handwriting-overview.html
       
2. Slingerland www.slingerland.org or phone 425 453 1190 Slingerland, B. & Aho, M. (1985a) "Manual for Learning to Use Manuscript Writing" Bellevue, WA: Slingerland Institute for Literacy. Details how to teach and review letters of the alphabet, usually used in Kindergarten, first and second grades.

Slingerland, B. & Aho, M. (1985b) "Masters for  Learning to Use Manuscript Writing" Bellevue, WA: Slingerland Institute for Literacy
               
Slingerland, B. & Aho, M. (1985c) "Manual for Learning to Use Cursive Writing" Bellevue, WA: Slingerland Institute for Literacy
               
Slingerland, B. & Aho, M. (1985d) "Masters for Learning to Use Cursive Writing" Bellevue, WA: Slingerland Institute for Literacy.

Slingerland Institute for Literacy. (2008) "Binder Size Handwriting Charts" Bellevue, WA: Slingerland Institute for Literacy. Manuscript and Cursive upper and lower case letter patterns for easy student reference. (1998) "Slingerland Masters for Lined Handwriting Paper" Bellevue, WA: Slingerland Institute for Literacy. Reproducible masters for various sizes of handwriting paper.
        
3. Rubel, B. (1995). "Big strokes for little folks." Tucson, AZ:  Therapy Skill Builders.

4. Benbow, M. (1990). "Loops and groups:  A kinesthetic writing system."  San Antonio, TX: Therapy Skill Builders.
      
5. Olsen, J. (2004). "Handwriting without tears." Cabin John, MD.
       
Resources for Teaching Typing

1. Fry. "Keyboarding for Beginners." Teachers’ Creative Materials, Inc. www.teachercreated.com

2. "Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor" (tenthumbstypingtutor.com)

Resources for Teaching Spelling


1. Masterson, J., Apel, K., & Wasowicz, J.  (2006).  SPELL 2 Spelling Performance Evaluation for Language and Literacy (Spelling assessment software for grade 2 through adult.) Learning by Design. Also, SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing - A Word Study Program for K-Adult. (Assessment linked to instruction.) Learning By Design, Inc. http://www.learningbydesign.com/

2. Fry, E.  (1996). " Spelling book.  Level 1-6. Words most needed plus phonics."  Westminster, Calif.:  Teacher Created Materials, Inc.  www.teachercreated.com. Contains lessons with words and strategies for teaching children to spell high-frequency words alone and in dictated sentences and apply phonics knowledge to spelling.  Provides placement test for placing children at their instructional level.  

3. Dixon, R., & Englemann, S.  (2001). "Spelling through morphographs."  DeSoto, TX:  SRA/McGraw-Hill.  Excellent program once students have mastered Fry program.

4. McGraw Hill:  "Spelling Connections and Spelling Mastery."

5. Henry, M.  (2003). "Unlocking literacy.  Effective decoding and spelling instruction."  Baltimore:  Paul H. Brookes Publishing.  Explains how to teach decoding of words of Anglo Saxon, Latinate and Greek origin based on the phonological, orthographic and morphological units in words.  

6. Gentry, J. (2004). "The science of spelling. The explicit specifics that make great readers and writers (and spellers!)" Heinemann: www.heinemann.com

7. Bear, D. Ivernezzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (2000). "Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction" (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

8. "Effective Decoding, Spelling, and Vocabulary Instruction."   http://alternativeed.sjsu.edu Click on "training modules" on left side of screen. Then choose Module 13 or the numbered one for major prefixes and suffixes for Latin roots and Greek combining forms.

9. Berninger, V., & Abbott, S. (2003). PAL Research-Supported Reading and Writing Lessons. San Antonio, TX: Harcourt.  Lesson Sets 4, 5, and 7:  Phonological Stage of Spelling Development.

Resources for Teaching Composing

1. Wong, B., & Berninger, V.  (2005).  Cognitive processes of teachers in implementing composition research in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. In B. Shulman, K. Apel, B. Ehren, E. Silliman, & A. Stone (Eds.), "Handbook of Language and Literacy Development and Disorders."  New York:  Guilford. (This chapter shows teachers how to apply the cognitive processes model of writing to teaching composing explicitly -- making instructional plans, implementing them in practice, reviewing student progress on a regular basis, and revising instructional approach when necessary. It also illustrates Wong’s model for integrated lessons for using the computer in the instructional program in writing with middle school and high school students. It calls attention to the importance of teaching students explicit strategies for managing time in completing assignments outside class.)

Resources for Teaching Sentence Construction

1. Farbman, E. (1989). "Sentence sense. A writer's guide."  Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Resources for Teaching Discourse Composition


1. Carlisle, J. (1996). "Models for writing, Levels A, B, and C."  Novato, CA:  Academic Therapy Publications. also www.highnoonbooks.com reproducibles for classroom use.

2. Auman, M.  (2003). Step up to writing (2nd ed.). Longmont, CO:  Sopris West.  

3. Traits of Good Writing (gr. 1-2, 3-4, or 5-6).  Remedia Scottsdale, AZ    1-800-826-4740

4. Nelson, N., Bahr, C., & Van Meter, A. (2004). "The Writing Lab Approach to Language Instruction and Intervention."  Baltimore, MD:  Paul H. Brookes. Offers practical suggestions for teachers to use in scaffolding instruction for students with language learning disability and for using software to support the composing.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Audio Average Americans Gave Away Billions in 2014

    Last year, Americans again showed they are generous people. A majority of Americans, two-thirds, gave money to charity in 2014. And they gave away more money than ever before. They gave away an estimated total of $358 billion. It is a seven percent increase from 2013. More

  • Audio New York Officials Block Pro-Muslim Advertising

    Two Muslims are taking New York City’s public transportation system to court. The Metropolitan Transit Authority had accepted anti-Muslim advertising until last year. But in a sudden change, it is now barring pro-Muslim ads. The two say that violates their rights under the U.S. constitution. More

  • Uber CEO Travis Kalanick speaks during the Baidu and Uber strategic cooperation and investment signing ceremony at Baidu's headquarters in Beijing, December 17, 2014.

    Audio Uber Making a Big Push to Win Over Chinese Consumers

    The car-sharing smartphone application Uber reported in June it is receiving one million requests for rides every day in China. The American-based company is taking steps to win over Chinese consumers, and compete with local businesses. Uber plans to expand to 50 more Chinese cities this year. More

  • President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, July 1, 2015.

    Video US, Cuban Embassies to Reopen

    The move ends more than 50 years of tensions between the two countries. Many countries, groups support the decision by President Obama. But the US Congress could refuse to provide money to open an American embassy in Havana. | In The News More

  • Blue Point Oysters from New York's Great South Bay

    Video Oysters Return to New York’s Great South Bay

    The Blue Point oyster is returning to the Great South Bay of New York after almost disappearing from the world marketplace. Over-farming, pollution and Hurricane Sandy had severely damaged the Blue Point oyster business. Now, the population is growing in its home on the coast of Long Island. More

Featured Stories

  • Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (rear to front) AF-2, AF-3 and AF-4. A new system to prevent pilots from suffering loss of consciousness is being developed for the aircraft.

    Video New Device May Help Jet Pilots

    While flying high above Earth’s surface, jet fighter pilots may suffer loss of eyesight for brief periods. Some pilots may even lose consciousness. These experiences, commonly called blackouts, can lead to tragic results. An Israeli company may have developed a device that could save pilots’ lives. More

  • People-Lewis Black

    Video Summer 2015 Brings Movies for Toddlers to Teens

    A girl's emotions star in 'Inside Out,' an animation from Pixar. 'Minions' is the story of the little yellow creatures from the 'Despicable Me' series. Don't like cartoon movies? Try "Paper Towns' based on a John Green book or 'Ricki and the Flash' starring Meryl Streep and daughter Maggie Gummer. More

  • Everyday Grammar: Beating Problems with Adverbs

    Audio Everyday Grammar: Beating Problems with Adverbs

    Some common mistakes in English happen when speakers confuse adjectives and adverbs. And some adverbs look the same but have opposite meanings. Do not fear, the Everyday Grammar expert is here to sort it all out for you. Learn why -ly usually (but not always) tells you a word is an adverb. More

  • Audio Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About the 4th of July

    Sure, you know Americans celebrate their Independence Day on the fourth day of July. But do you know they have the wrong date? Or where they get all those fireworks? Hint: not from the UK. More

  • Audio Independence Day

    Independence Day is a huge celebration in the United States. People celebrate by having parades and picnics and usually end the day with fireworks. So what do some of these words mean? More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs