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Reading and Writing

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 1181–1207 | Cite as

Specifying the graphic characteristics of words that influence children’s handwriting

  • Claire Gosse
  • Simon Carbonnelle
  • Christophe de Vleeschouwer
  • Marie Van Reybroeck
Article

Abstract

Research about the development of the graphomotor side of writing is very scarce. The goal of this study was to gain a better understanding of what constitutes graphic complexity of written material by determining the impact of graphic characteristics on handwriting production. In this end, the pen stroke of cursive handwriting was precisely described through an algorithm of detection of seven graphic characteristics: the number of angles, turn backs, curves in X and Y, pen-ups and modified links. Twenty typically developing children in grade 2 completed a single-word dictation task, composed of 48 items, on a digital writing tablet. All 48 words were regular words, highly frequent for second graders, and varied in terms of their graphic structure. Their handwriting production for each word was assessed in terms of both legibility and speed. A general linear mixed model was run to determine the impact of each graphic characteristic on handwriting performance. In agreement with our hypothesis, the results showed that words have different levels of graphic complexity. The following characteristics, in order of importance, significantly influenced negatively handwriting legibility: modified links, angles, curves, pen-ups and length. Regarding speed, the angles were the only characteristic that made children slow down while handwriting. These findings represent novelty in the field of research on writing. Unlike the usual approaches, it focused on investigating the graphic complexity at the word-level. It offers for the first time a universal classification of the graphic characteristics of words and it enables the quantification of the graphic complexity of words.

Keywords

Handwriting Graphic complexity Writing acquisition 

Notes

Acknowledgement

The authors thank the Fondation Louvain for supporting this work financially. The authors are grateful to all the children and teachers who participated in this study. We would like to offer special thanks to Jean Viviès and Monique de Mattia for their proofreading, and Caroline Vander Stappen for her comments on the text. This work was presented at the SIG Writing International Conference 2016 (Liverpool, UK).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Gosse
    • 1
  • Simon Carbonnelle
    • 2
  • Christophe de Vleeschouwer
    • 2
  • Marie Van Reybroeck
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychological Sciences Research InstituteUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.Institute of Information and Communication Technologies, Electronics and Applied MathematicsUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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