Treatment of handwriting problems in beginning writers: Transfer from handwriting to composition

Virginia W. Berninger, Katherine B. Vaughan, Robert D. Abbott, Sylvia P. Abbott, Laura Woodruff Rogan, Allison Brooks, Elizabeth Reed, Steve Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

319 Scopus citations


Almost 700 children were screened to identify 144 1st graders at risk for handwriting problems who were randomly assigned to 1 of 6 treatment conditions. Treatment was delivered to groups of 3 that met twice a week in 20-min sessions until they completed 24 lessons. Five groups received 10 min of different kinds of handwriting instruction. The contact control group received 10 min of phonological awareness training. All 6 groups composed and shared their writing for 10 min. Converging evidence across multiple measures showed that combining numbered arrows and memory retrieval was the most effective treatment for improving both handwriting and compositional fluency (composing with time limits). Thus instruction aimed at improving transcription transfers to improved text generation in beginning writers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-666
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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