Posted: May 25th, 2022
Handwriting Skills on Compositional Quality
What is the background and context of your project? Is there a ‘problem’ you want to find out more about or a potential solution that you want to explore? Is there a gap in the literature or earlier research that you want to build on or extend? What is your aim? Why do you want to investigate this topic? What is the justification for researching this issue? Include a small number of in-text references in this section as well as a corresponding list of complete references in Section 8 using a consistent format (e.g. following the SHU referencing guidelines).
I teach English in class 2 and 3 which comprises of a comprehensive book, a workbook and a writing practice book. While teaching I observed that most of the kids in class 3 had quite bad handwriting, although they had been practising from class 1 onwards.
On closer observation it became clear that the teachers themselves were not trained in handwriting skills, the writing workbook was used as a substitute for homework without clear guidance or instructions, there was more emphasis on rote learning and producing ready made answers in poor handwriting as long as they could be deciphered. As Alston and Taylor (1987) observe, good handwriting is very important in the development of the ability to articulate because it reinforces the idea of structure. Based on the study by Bing (1988), it became apparent that handwriting could be used as a tool to overcome writing problems: thus, the concept of this study was brought about. Likewise, Graham and Harris (2005) articulated the need to focus on handwriting as an initiative in improving writing performance.
Unfortunately, the school at which I teach has a semester system which tests the kids in grammar, conversation, dictation and text, but nothing in writing. According to Cahill (2009), handwriting deserves a place in the curriculum and is an essential prop in supporting academic success.
The kids with low handwriting skills were also unable to form simple sentences, which is consistent with the findings of Dinehart (2015) and Gentry and Graham (2010).
My aim is to monitor the effect of introducing handwriting programs into the curriculum and analyzing the impact of handwriting on compositional quality over a 2 semester period.
2. Research question or research questions (maximum of 3):
1. What is the effect of a specific handwriting intervention programme on the composition writing of elementary grade level ESL learners over a 2 semester period?
To investigate the above, I also need to establish;
a. Is it poor handwriting or learning disability (as the school has no such facility) by using orthographic coding
b. Whether teachers had any training in handwriting skills
c. Whether parents engage in any handwriting practice with their kid
d. What was the impact of the intervention (introduction of handwriting skills) was there any marked improvement in the kids handwriting and composition fluency
3. What methodological approach do you hope to adopt: Will it be qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods? Describe the approach briefly with your reasons for the choice.
Evaluation research will be conducted to evaluate the effect of handwriting on composition. Evaluation Research is a form of study that employs social research methodology in order to establish an evaluation of a social program (Powell, 2006). Evaluation research for example is used when a researcher is trying to examine and judge the merits of (evaluate) a specific social program. The researcher will use standard social research methods as a methodology for evaluating the merits of the program(s). For this study qualitative and quantitative data will be gathered from the students to establish poor handwriting skills or learn disability through sample writing. Before, during and after the intervention the students’ writing will be analysed to see any improvement or otherwise over the period of time. The findings will be measured according to syntax, proper subject-predicate placement, and handwriting quality (from a scale of 1-5) based on the model provided by Graham (1986) which provides a set of “scales and factors that contribute to variability in handwriting scores” (p. 63). The best way to gather data from the teachers will be to survey them before and after the study. Learner views will also be accessed by way of survey and questionnaire during the focus group. The questionnaire will be correlated with individual results and the survey will be analyzed according to Likert scale and will provide quantitative data to support findings. The Likert scale is useful for “measuring people’s attitudes, beliefs, emotions, feelings, perceptions, personality characteristics, and other psychological constructs” (Lewis-Beck, Bryman, Liao, 2004).
As Clason and Dormody (1994) note, “Likert scaling presumes the existence of an underlying (or latent or natural) continuous variable whose value characterizes the respondents’ attitudes and opinions. If it were possible to measure the latent variable directly, the measurement scale would be, at best, an interval scale,” (p. 34). Each set of questions, therefore, can be investigated and processed in their own individual ways but also can be merged together to find even bigger and more pronounced casual relationships that add depth to the larger phenomenon. The phenomen under scrutiny here is the effect of handwriting on composition and that phenomenon is assessed by way of analysis of handwriting samples before and after intervention.
4. Sample identity and size: Who will your participants be or what will your sample consist of? You might, for example, be collecting data from 20 Intermediate students in General English classes in Paris. Alternatively, your sample might be 25 texts written by pre-sessional EAP students at a UK university.
10 -15 students (ages 5-7) from 3 classes (years 2-3) beginning April, 2016; the children in L1 do not possess very exceptional English skills, so the students for this study will come primarily from the 2nd and 3rd year students, whose grasp of the English language should be acceptable. The first language is varied: Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi (the national language is Urdu); the ESLs have a moderate level of English understanding; they are taught Urdu and English at school; they are learning English script along with Arabic script (for Urdu).
2-3 teachers depending on the availability; this is a convenient sample.
A sample of each student’s work; 1 writing and 1 composition from each student; thus every student is represented and a true representative sample is gained, including both high and low calibre writing and composition students.
5. The main stages of your data collection, including the data collection methods that you intend to use.
A timeline may be helpful here. Describe the data collection instruments (e.g. classroom observation instrument, questionnaire, focus group; writing activity) and the data you hope to obtain from each one (e.g. error correction techniques in the classroom, student perceptions of L1 use, usefulness of genre based input for writing). Indicate how the data you hope to collect from each data collection instrument will help you address the research question/s mentioned in Section 3 above. If you are proposing to evaluate the effect or impact of an ‘intervention’ (e.g. input on noticing techniques), describe what this input will be.
Pre-Intervention Jan. 2016,
Pre-intervention student writing will be assessed and recorded. Prior to this, student participation will be granted following ethical obligations noted by Bournot-Trites and Belanger (2005) who recommend employing a third party to obtain the necessary consent forms as well as the data collection when conducting research in the classroom (p. 197). This consent can be facilitated through community outreach via engagement with “national, district and local level stakeholders” (Okello, 2013, p. 142).
. Discussion with teachers to earmark students with poor handwriting and assess their compositional quality.
. A random selection of students to observe poor handwriting / learning disability
. Student questionnaires given to establish any practice done at home and any relevant information, plus to establish keenness and cooperation during this period
.Teachers questionnaires to establish their own training and skills in handwriting
. Short training given to teachers to be able to carry out this intervention effectively
April — May, 2016, start of academic year
. 10 -15 stu; given two classes each week, 30 minutes each for 8 weeks.
. Teacher diaries to record stu; progress, their own reflection and evaluation in the light of their own training.
my own diary of observations, discussions and feedback from the rest of the teachers and students in those particular classes
I have already informed the principal and she is happy for me to conduct this research. Two teachers have also informally agreed to take part in this study.
Ear marking of students, short training of teachers and parents consent and questionnaires remains to be done.
Post-Intervention Dec. 2016
Focus group with teachers about the handwriting intervention and its effect
Focus group with the students about the handwriting intervention and its effect.
7. Definitions of key terms or concepts for your research with reference to the literature (e.g. learner autonomy, language learning strategies; paraphrase your definitions as far as possible)
Term or concept
Definition and reference (include page number)
Automatic text production
Or Automaitic writing is the students’ ability to switch attention between the motor process of handwriting and what they actually want to say (Graham and Weintraub, 1996, page 1)
Is the term used to explain how students store and later retrieve letter from memory (Berninger et al.,2006)
Visual motor integration
.memory retrieval intervention
Commonly known as ‘eye-hand coordination’, is the ability to control hand movement guided by vision. A child who is challenged in this area has difficulty coordinating body movements in response to what he/she is seeing
Requires child to cover letters and write them from memory (Graham ., 1997, pg. 653
Number of words produced under constant time limits (Berninger et al. ., 1992)
8. List of references cited in the proposal (approximately 10-15 references, including both books and journal articles; Use consistent conventions for the presentation of your entries)
Alston, J., Taylor, J. (1987). Handwriting: theory, Research and practice. Eric Digest. ERIC no;
ED285203. Accessed through ipd.shu.ac.uk
Bing, S. (1988). Handwriting; Remediate or Circumvent . Interventions for improving handwriting skills and strategies for circumventing writing problems. Journal of special education, 23 (5): 509-514
Bournot-Trites, M., Belanger, J. (2005). Ethical dilemmas facing action researchers. The Journal of Educational Thought, 39(2), 197-215.
Cahill, S. (2009). Where does Handwriting fit in? Strategies to support academic achievement.
Intervention in school and clinic, 44 (4): 223-228
Clason, D. L., Dormody, T. J. (1994). Analyzing data measured by individual Likert-
type items. Journal of Agricultural Education, 35(4): 31-35.
Dinehart, L. (2015). Handwriting in early childhood education; current research and future implications. Journal of early childhood literacy, 15 (1): 97-118
Gentry, R., Graham, S. (2010). Creating better readers and writers. The importance of direct, systematic spelling and handwriting instruction in improving academic performance. Saperstien Associates, White Paper, Fall.
Graham, S. (1986). A review of handwriting scales and factors that contribute to variability in handwriting scores. Journal of school psychology, 24 (1): 63-71.
Graham, S., Harris, K. (2005). Improving the Writing Performance of Young Struggling Writers:
Theoretical and Programmatic Research From the Center on Accelerating Student Learning. Journal of special education, 39: 19-33.
Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A., Liao, T. (2004). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social
Science Research Methods. NY: SAGE Publishers.
Okello, G., Jones, C., Bonareri, M., Ndegwa, S., Mcharo, C., Kengo, J., Kinyua, K.,
Dubeck, M., Halliday, K., Jukes, M., Molyneux, S., Brooker, S. (2013). Challenges for consent and community engagement in the conduct of cluster randomized trial among school children in low income settings: experiences from Kenya. Trials, 14: 142-154.
Powell, R. (2006). Evaluation Research: An Overview. Library Trends, 55(1): 102-
Part 2 – application for research ethics approval
Are you aware of the four principles for ethical research? Yes No
beneficence (do positive good) non-malfeasance (do no harm)
informed consent confidentiality / anonymity
Please refer to the SHU ethics policy document available on BB and Shuspace and the research methodology core books for more details. Also see the guidance on the BB site in the Learning Materials folder.
When answering these questions, cross reference, as appropriate, to information letters and sample consent forms which should be included with this form.
1. Describe the arrangements for selecting/sampling potential participants.
The student and teachers for this investigation are part of the school and are from reception to class 3 .
Students writing pieces will have a school roll number maximising the objectivity of marking and sampling.
Handwriting pieces will be chosen from three groups from class 1-3.
Five samples from each class will be chosen on the basis of the most poor handwriting or compositional quality.
Handwriting pieces will be chosen by me along with two other teachers.
If any of the students drop out, due to any reason, another student who has the same problem will be chosen.
2. Describe the arrangements for briefing potential participants.
Send the consent form to the principal for signature
Distribute and collect consent forms from the participating teachers, with whom I have already been having discussions on the benefit and impact of this intervention.
Teachers may complete a questionnaire on the before and after of this intervention; parents are welcomed to come and discuss if they have seen a change in their Childs’ handwriting; teachers refer to their diary that they will keep in order to record the groups progress.
3. What are the potential benefits of this research project for participants, your organisation or school, and/or the TESOL profession as a whole?
Students will have the opportunity to learn formal handwriting skills from now a trained teacher. The students will receive controlled and consistent guidance and input to improve their handwriting skills which will be important for this class and for the following academic years. This would help them with information retention, retrieval and composing. Improving their handwriting skills will also affect other subjects, e.g. science, social studies, computer, math which requires the English script.
Teachers will benefit from guidance on how to separate poor writers from the learning disabled ones, using the orthographic code.
3 teachers will be trained to carry out 1-2 simple interventions in a pilot, with a group of children (minimum 5), to make sure they are carried out properly.
These teachers can train future teachers for this purpose.
Through my observations and interactions with the teachers and students it is clear that the school needs to train some teachers teaching English for handwriting skills and equip some to be able to identify the learning disabled and address their needs. At the present time the school has neither sourced out this requirement nor given any in-house training.
4. Describe any possible negative consequences of participation in the research along with the ways in which these consequences will be limited. This should include details where appropriate of any withholding of information or misleading of participants along with a justification of why this is necessary. For most TESOL projects, the withholding of information is not necessary. Also consider the time that you are asking your participants to give to the project and how this will be explained to them.
Parents and students may be concerned that this intervention might be scored and tested separately, affecting the final class report. But they will be assured of no such measure for the time being.
Teachers will be concerned about the extra work, which will require more time beyond their job specifications and it will be unpaid. The training will be short and accommodated within the designated INSET days.
5. Describe the arrangements for obtaining institutional and participants’ consent. If participants are under 18 years old, explain how parental/guardian consent will be obtained.
Written parental consent will be necessary as all the chosen students are under 18. The principal and the teachers will receive a written consent letter, explaining procedures, duration and the benefits of such an intervention.
6. Describe the arrangements for ensuring participant anonymity and confidentiality and how participants will be informed of this. This should include details of how data will be stored and how results will be presented.
All the views of the teachers and parents will be recorded in the research diary but will remain anonymous. Handwriting samples and questionnaires will be labelled according to the school roll number and the teacher’s initials. Parents will be guaranteed face-to-face and in writing, that this intervention in no way will affect the grade or be shown in the final report.
7. Describe how participants will be made aware of their right to withdraw from the research. This should also include information about participants’ right to withhold information.
All the participants have the right to withhold or withdraw information and it will be set in the written consent form.
8. Describe the arrangements for sharing findings with the participants and/or explain how you will offer to share your findings.
Findings will be made available on request.
9. Are there any conflicts of interest in you undertaking this research? (E.g. Are you undertaking research on work colleagues?) How will you deal with these? Please supply details.
As already mentioned above about the parents’ concern with regards to class assessments and final exams.
The teachers will also be assured that any withdrawal or withholding of information has no consequences on their respective jobs or duties in the school.
Final draft of proposal and ethics application only.
Please summarise ways in which this document has changed and evolved since your first draft.
Since the first draft, the document has changed to become narrower and tighter in focus, eschewing all extraneous topics and concerns that are unrelated to the question of the study, which is whether handwriting will have any effect on compositional skills. Through the process of revision, that question stood out as the most important and therefore it deserved the complete focus of the study.
With the help of the director, I was able to revise the study to fit the appropriate parameters of an assessment model more in line with the qualitative-quantitative structure, using surveys and questionnaires as tools for assessment and a case study methodology for analysis.
I confirm that this research will conform to the principles outlined in the Sheffield Hallam University Research Ethics policy.
I confirm that this application is accurate to the best of my knowledge.
Student’s signature (or typed name)
Email this form to your supervisor along with accompanying ethics paperwork (and remember to keep a copy for yourself.)
The final research proposal and ethics application will be considered by the Research Committee after which it will be:
approved approved subject to certain recommendations and a further version will be requested not approved and significant redrafting will be requested.
Consent to Participate in a Research Study
Title of Study:
The Effect of Handwriting Skills on Compositional Quality
You are being asked to be in a research study of handwriting skills to determine their effect on compositional quality.
You were selected as a possible participant because you are a student at the school in the grade level 1-3 and fit the appropriate protocol.
We ask that you read this form and ask any questions that you may have before agreeing to be in the study.
Purpose of Study
The purpose of the study is to gain insight into whether handwriting skills are instrumental in effecting compositional skills in young students at our school in the ages of 5-7.
Ultimately, this research may be submitted as part of a research project for a graduate thesis and published in a scholarly or academic journal.
Description of the Study Procedures
If you agree to be in this study, you will be asked to do the following things: 1) consent to having your handwriting skills assessed prior to the beginning of the study; 2) consent to having your handwriting skills assessed at the conclusion of the study; 3) consent to having your compositional skills assessed at both the beginning and end of the study as well
*There will also be a focus group in which the effects of teaching handwriting are discussed within the classes so as to develop a better understanding of what the students felt about the introduction of this activity.
Risks/Discomforts of Being in this Study
The study has the following risks. First, some students may feel uncomfortable about being part of a study because they may not like the sensation of feeling like they are receiving extra scrutiny; the likelihood of this feeling is very slight because the skills will not be assessed in public; the diaries will be collected in class and assessed by the researcher/teacher outside of the normal classroom hours, and no student will receive any marks as per the result of this assessment and no student will be told what level of quality he or she is at unless he or she would like to receive this assessment from the teacher. Second, there is the risk that the study may find that there is a correlation between handwriting skill and compositional skills and it may happen that the school after some deliberation chooses to implement a handwriting component or class in the school, which could become a requirement for students; the possibility of this happening is moderate and depends on several factors such as the outcome of the research study, funding, teacher promotion, student facilitation, parent support, etc.
Apart from these two minor considerations, there are no reasonable foreseeable (or expected) risks. There may be unknown risks.
Benefits of Being in the Study
The benefits of participation are the knowledge that your participation will help teachers to better understand the proper methods needed to educate and develop the young to reach their maximum potential. Your assistance is greatly appreciated
This study is anonymous. We will not be collecting or retaining any information about your identity.
You will not receive any payment for your participation. Likewise, there is no cost to participate.
Right to Refuse or Withdraw
The decision to participate in this study is entirely up to you. You may refuse to take part in the study at any time without affecting your relationship with the investigators of this study or Smith College. Your decision will not result in any loss or benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. You have the right not to answer any single question, as well as to withdraw completely from the interview at any point during the process; additionally, you have the right to request that the interviewer not use any of your interview material.
Right to Ask Questions and Report Concerns
You have the right to ask questions about this research study and to have those questions answered by me before, during or after the research. If you have any further questions about the study, at any time feel free to contact me, [name] at [email] or by telephone at [phone number]. If you like, a summary of the results of the study will be sent to you. If you have any other concerns about your rights as a research participant that have not been answered by the investigators, you may contact the school directly.
Your signature below indicates that you have decided to volunteer as a research participant for this study, and that you have read and understood the information provided above. You will be given a signed and dated copy of this form to keep, along with any other printed materials deemed necessary by the study investigators.
Subject’s Name (print):
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