Perception of the cursive handwriting movement in writers and pre-writers


The objective of this study was to confirm the existence of knowledge relating to the cursive writing movement for French pupils in 3rd year of kindergarten, 2nd grade and 5th grade of elementary school. 141 pupils were asked to watch a visual presentation of cursive handwriting to determine whether they were able to detect violations of two rules of handwriting: continuity and sequentiality of the cursive handwriting movement. Our results showed progressive development of the understanding of characteristics of the cursive handwriting movement, with different developmental trajectories of knowledge for the different rules. The ability to detect continuity of the cursive writing movement developed earlier than the ability to detect sequentiality. Correct decisions were not always accompanied by correct justifications, which developed more slowly than detection of rule violations.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Alamargot, D., & Morin, M. F. (2015). Does handwriting on a tablet screen affect students’ graphomotor execution? A comparison between Grades Two and Nine. Human Movement Science, 44, 32–41.

  2. Alamargot, D., Plane, S., Lambert, E., & Chesnet, D. (2010). Using eye and pen movements to trace the development of writing expertise: Case studies of a 7th, 9th and 12th grader, graduate student, and professional writer. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 23(7), 853–888.

  3. Auzias, M. (1975). Enfants gauchers, enfants droitiers, une épreuve de latéralité de latéralité usuelle [Left-handed children, right-handed children, a lateral laterality test]. Paris: Delachaux et Niestlé.

  4. Babcock, M. K., & Freyd, J. J. (1988). Perception of dynamic information in static handwritten forms. American Journal of Psychology, 101, 111–130.

  5. Bara, F., Gentaz, E., Colé, P., & Sprenger-Charolles, L. (2004). The visuo-haptic and haptic exploration of letters increases the kindergarten-children’s understanding of the alphabetic principle. Cognitive Development, 19, 433–449.

  6. Bara, F., Morin, M. F., Alamargot, D., & Bosse, M. L. (2016). Learning different allographs through handwriting: The impact on letter knowledge and reading acquisition. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 88–94.

  7. Bara, F., Morin, M.-F., Montésinos-Gelet, I., & Lavoie, N. (2011). Conceptions et pratiques en graphomotricité chez des enseignants de primaire en France et au Québec. Revue Française de Pédagogie, 176, 41–56.

  8. Bartolomeo, P., Bachoud-lévi, A. C., Chokron, S., & Degos, J. D. (2002). Visually- and motor-based knowledge of letters: Evidence from a pure alexic patient. Neuropsychologia, 40, 1363–1371.

  9. Berninger, V. W., Vaughan, K., Abbott, R. D., Begay, K., Coleman, K. B., Curtin, G., et al. (2002). Teaching spelling and composition alone and together: Implications for the simple view of writing. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(2), 291–304.

  10. Berry, D. C., & Broadbent, D. E. (1984). On the relationship between task performance and associated verbalizable knowledge. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 36, 209–231.

  11. Bidet-Ildei, C., Orliaguet, J.-P., Sokolov, A. N., & Pavlova, M. (2006). Perception of Elliptic Biological Motion. Perception, 35(8), 1137–1147.

  12. Bo, J., Barta, J., Ferencak, H., Comstock, S., Riley, V., & Krueger, J. (2014). Developmental characteristics in cursive and printed letter-writing for school-age children. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 2(1), 1–8.

  13. Bonneton-Botté, N., & De La Haye, F. (2009). Apprentissage de l’écriture manuscrite: Des difficultés perçues par les enseignants aux difficultés des élèves. In N. Marec-Breton, A. S. Besse, F. De La Haye, N. Bonneton, & E. Bonjour (Eds.), L’apprentissage de la langue écrite: Approche cognitive (pp. 263–277). Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes.

  14. Bonneton-Botté, N., De La Haye, F., Marec-Breton, N., & Bara, F. (2012). Détection et identification d’une caractéristique du mouvement d’écriture manuscrite chez l’enfant [Detection and identification of a characteristic of the handwriting movement in children]. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue Canadienne de Psychologie Expérimentale, 66(3), 164.

  15. Bourdin, B., Cogis, D., & Foulin, J. N. (2010). Influence des traitements graphomoteurs et orthographiques sur la production de textes écrits: perspective pluridisciplinaire [Influence of graphomotor and orthographic treatments on the production of written texts: Multidisciplinary perspective]. Languages, 1, 57–82.

  16. Brun-Henin, F., Velay, J. L., Beecham, Y., & Cariou, S. (2013). Troubles d’écriture et dyslexie: revue théorique, aspects cliniques et approche expérimentale [Writing disorders and dyslexia: Theoretical review, clinical aspects and experimental approach]. Développements, 4, 4–28.

  17. Calvo-Merino, B., Grèzes, J., Glaser, D. E., Passingham, R. E., & Haggard, P. (2006). Seeing or doing? Influence of visual and motor familiarity in action observation. Current Biology, 16(19), 1905–1910.

  18. Christensen, C. A. (2005). The Role of Orthographic–Motor Integration in the Production of Creative and Well-Structured Written Text for Students in Secondary School. Educational Psychology, 25(5), 441–453.

  19. Flores D’Arcaïs, G. B. (1994). Order of strokes writing as a cue for retrieval in reading Chinese characters. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 6(4), 337–355.

  20. Foulin, J. N. (1995). Pauses et débits: les indicateurs temporels de la production écrite [Pauses and flows: Temporal indicators of written production]. L’Année Psychologique, 95, 483–504.

  21. Goodnow, J. J., & Levine, R. A. (1973). “The grammar of action”: Sequence and syntax in children’s copying. Cognitive Psychology, 4(1), 82–98.

  22. Jolly, C., Palluel-Germain, R., & Gentaz, E. (2013). Evaluation of a tactile training for handwriting acquisition in French kindergarten children: A pilot study (pp. 161–176). Kindergartens: Teaching methods, Expectations and Current Challenges.

  23. Kandel, S., Hérault, L., Grosjacques, G., Lambert, E., & Fayol, M. (2009). Orthographic vs. phonologic syllables in handwriting production. Cognition, 110(3), 440–444.

  24. Kandel, S., Orliaguet, J. P., & Viviani, P. (2000). Perceptual anticipation in handwriting: The role of implicit motor competence. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 62(4), 706–716.

  25. Kandel, S., & Perret, C. (2015). How does the interaction between spelling and motor processes build up during writing acquisition? Cognition, 136, 325–336.

  26. Karmiloff-Smith, A. (1992). Beyond modularity: A developmental perspective in cognitive science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  27. Lambert, E., & Espéret, E. (1997). Le début du langage écrit: les premières productions grapho-motrices [The beginning of written language: the first grapho-motor productions]. Arob@se, 1(2), 1–15.

  28. Lété, B., Sprenger-Charolles, L., & Colé, P. (2004). MANULEX: A grade-level lexical database from French elementary-school readers. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 156–166.

  29. Louis Dam, A., Kandel, S., & Orliaguet, J. P. (2000). Perception visuelle des mouvements humains: Anticipation visuelle et anticipation motrice [Visual perception of human movements: Visual anticipation and motor anticipation]. Psychologie Française, 45(4), 333–342.

  30. Maldarelli, J. E., Kahrs, B. A., Hunt, S. C., & Lockman, J. J. (2015). Development of early handwriting: Visual-motor control during letter copying. Developmental Psychology, 51(7), 879.

  31. Matthewman, S., & Triggs, P. (2004). ‘Obsessive compulsive font disorder’: The challenge of supporting pupils writing with the computer. Computers & Education, 43(1), 125–135.

  32. Medwell, J., & Wray, D. (2008). Handwriting–A forgotten language skill? Language and Education, 22(1), 34–47.

  33. Mojet, J. W. (1991). Characteristics of the developing handwriting skill in elementary education. In J. Wann, A. M. Wing, & N. Sovik (Eds.), Development of graphic skills (pp. 53–75). London: Academic Press.

  34. Morey, R. D. (2008). Confidence intervals from normalized data: A correction to Cousineau (2005). Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology, 8, 61–64.

  35. Norton, E. S., & Wolf, M. (2012). Rapid automatized naming (RAN) and reading fluency: Implications for understanding and treatment of reading disabilities. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 427–452.

  36. Olive, T., Favart, M., Beauvais, C., & Beauvais, L. (2009). Children’s cognitive effort and fluency in writing: Effects of genre and of handwriting automatization. Learning and Instruction, 19(4), 299–308.

  37. Orliaguet, J. P., Kandel, S., & Boë, L. J. (1997). Visual perception of motor anticipation in cursive handwriting: Influence of spatial and movement information on the prediction of forthcoming letters. Perception, 26, 905–912.

  38. Parkinson, J., Dyson, B. J., & Khurana, B. (2010). Line by line: The ERP correlates of stroke order priming in letters. Experimental Brain Research, 201(3), 575–586.

  39. Paz-Villagrán, V., Danna, J., & Velay, J. L. (2014). Lifts and stops in proficient and dysgraphic handwriting. Human Movement Science, 33, 381–394.

  40. Perruchet, P. (2008). Implicit learning. Learning and Memory: A Comprehensive Reference.

  41. Pontart, V., Bidet-Ildei, C., Lambert, E., Morisset, P., Flouret, L., & Alamargot, D. (2013). Influence of handwriting skills during spelling in primary and lower secondary grades. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 818.

  42. Prunty, M. M., Barnett, A. L., Wilmut, K., & Plumb, M. S. (2014). An examination of writing pauses in the handwriting of children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 35(11), 2894–2905.

  43. Reber, A. S. (1967). Implicit learning of artificial grammars. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 6(6), 855–863.

  44. Schmidt, R. A. (1975). A schema theory of discrete motor skill learning. Psychological Review, 82(4), 225.

  45. Simner, M. L. (1981). The grammar of action and children’s printing. Developmental Psychology, 17(6), 866.

  46. Sutherland, R., Armstrong, V., Barnes, S., Brawn, R., Breeze, N., Gall, M., et al. (2004). Transforming teaching and learning: Embedding ICT into everyday classroom practices. Journal of Computer Assisted learning, 20(6), 413–425.

  47. Velay, J. L., & Longcamp, M. (2013). Motor skills and written language perception: Contribution of writing knowledge to visual recognition of graphic shapes. In Y. Coello, & A. Bartolo (Eds.), Language and action in cognitive neuroscience (pp. 161–176).

  48. Vinter, A., & Chartrel, E. (2008). Visual and proprioceptive recognition of cursive letters in young children. Acta Psychologica, 129(1), 147–156.

  49. Vinter, A., & Chartrel, E. (2010). Effects of different types of learning on handwriting movements in young children. Learning and Instruction, 20(6), 476–486.

  50. Vinter, A., & Marot, V. (2007). The development of context sensitivity in children’s graphic copying strategies. Developmental Psychology, 43(1), 94.

  51. Vinter, A., & Perruchet, P. (1999). Isolating unconscious influences: The neutral parameter procedure. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 52A, 857–875.

  52. Vinter, A., & Perruchet, P. (2000). Implicit learning in children is not related to age: Evidence from drawing behavior. Child Development, 71, 1223–1240.

  53. Vinter, A., & Perruchet, P. (2002). Implicit motor learning through observational training in adults and children. Memory and Cognition, 30, 256–261.

  54. Viviani, P., & Stucchi, N. (1992). Biological movements look uniform: Evidence of motor-perceptual interactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 18(3), 603.

  55. Weeks, D. L., & Anderson, L. P. (2000). The interaction of observational learning with overt practice: Effects on motor skill learning. Acta Psychologica, 104, 259–271.

  56. Wong, T. H., & Kao, H. S. R. (1991). The development of drawing principles in Chinese. In Development of graphic skills: Research Perspectives and Educational Implications (pp. 93–112).

  57. Zesiger, P. (1992). L’écriture chez l’enfant de 8 à 12 ans et chez l’adulte: aspects perceptivo-moteurs et effets linguistiques. [Writing in children aged 8 to 12 years and in adults: perceptual-motor aspects and linguistic effects]. Unpublished doctoral thesis Université de Genève: faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l’Education.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Nathalie Bonneton-Botté.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (MP4 1506 kb)

Supplementary material 1 (MP4 1506 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (MPG 7218 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bonneton-Botté, N., Bara, F., Marec-Breton, N. et al. Perception of the cursive handwriting movement in writers and pre-writers. Read Writ 31, 927–943 (2018).

Download citation


  • Cursive handwriting
  • Perception
  • Continuity
  • Sequentiality
  • Children