Year of Publication

2005

Date of Thesis

10-2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Occupational Therapy

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if participation in fine motor or gross motor occupations prior to handwriting instruction affect first grade students' handwriting legibility as measured by the Test of Handwriting Skills (Gardner, 1998). A convenience sample consisting of 52 students between the ages of 5 and 7 from 4 first grade classrooms were assigned to one of two pre-writing programs or to control groups. One pre-writing program was based on Mary Benbow's approaches and included neurokinesthetic fine motor strategies (Benbow, 1995). The second pre-writing program was modified from Mary Benbow's gross motor approaches (Benbow, 1995) and Brain Gym methods (Dennison & Dennison, 1986) to consist of neurokinesthetic gross motor strategies. The classroom teachers conducted the pre-writing programs daily for 3 consecutive weeks prior to typical handwriting instruction in the classrooms. The participants in the two control classrooms were pre- and post-tested for comparison with students in the pre-writing program classrooms, but no modifications to the classroom programs were made. At the conclusion of the program, a statistical correlation between groups was demonstrated on 1 out of 10 subtests on the Test of Handwriting Skills. No statistically significant differences were noted between classes in handwriting legibility on the other 9 subtests of the Test of Handwriting Skills. These results suggest that the addition of a motor program prior to handwriting instruction does not affect legibility in any of the conditions stated in the research questions. There is a need for future research related to prewriting programs for the purposes of handwriting acquisition.

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