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Learning to write letters: Examination of student and letter factors

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Description:
Learning to write the letters of the alphabet is an important part of learning how to write conventionally. In this study, we investigated critical factors in the development of letter-writing skills using exploratory item response models to simultaneously account for variance in responses due to differences between students and between letters. Letter-writing skills were assessed in 415 preschool children aged 3 to 5 years. At the student level, we examined the contribution of letter-name knowledge, letter-sound knowledge, and phonological awareness to letter-writing skills. At the letter level, we examined seven intrinsic and extrinsic factors in understanding how preschool children learn to write alphabet letters: first letter of name, letters in name, letter order, textual frequency, number of strokes, symmetry, and letter type. Results indicated that variation in letter-writing skills was accounted for more by differences between students rather than by differences between letters, with most of the variability accounted for by letter-name knowledge and age. Although significant, the contribution of letter-sound knowledge and phonological awareness was relatively small. Student-level mechanisms underlying the acquisition of letter-writing skills are similar to the mechanisms underlying the learning of letter sounds. However, letter characteristics, which appear to play a major role in the learning of letter names and letter sounds, did not appear to influence learning how to write letters in a substantial way. The exception was if the letter was in the child's name. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
Country:
United States
State(s):
Florida; Pennsylvania

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