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The internal structure of handwriting proficiency in beginning writers

Truxius, Lidia; Maurer, Michelle N.; Sägesser, Judith; Roebers, Claudia M. (2024). The internal structure of handwriting proficiency in beginning writers. PLOS ONE, 19 (1), e0296096. 10.1371/journal.pone.0296096

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Fluent and automatized handwriting frees cognitive resources for more complex elements of writing (i.e., spelling or text generation) or even math tasks (i.e., operating) and is therefore a central objective in primary school years. Most previous research has focused on the development of handwriting automaticity across the school years and characteristics of handwriting difficulties in advanced writers. However, the relative and absolute predictive power of the different kinematic aspects for typically developing beginning handwriting remains unclear. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether and to what extent different kinematic aspects contribute to handwriting proficiency in typically developing beginning handwriters. Further, we investigated whether gender, socioeconomic background, or interindividual differences in executive functions and visuomotor integration contribute to children’s acquisition of handwriting. Therefore, 853 first-grade children aged seven copied words on a digitized tablet and completed cognitive performance tasks. We used a confirmatory factor analysis to investigate how predefined kinematic aspects of handwriting, specifically the number of inversions in velocity (NIV), pen stops, pen lifts, and pressure on the paper, are linked to an underlying handwriting factor. NIV, pen stops, and pen lifts showed the highest factor loadings and therefore appear to best explain handwriting proficiency in beginning writers. Handwriting proficiency was superior in girls than boys but, surprisingly, did not differ between children from low versus high socioeconomic backgrounds. Handwriting proficiency was related to working memory but unrelated to inhibition, shifting, and visuomotor integration. Overall, these findings highlight the importance of considering different kinematic aspects in children who have not yet automatized pen movements. Results are also important from an applied perspective, as the early detection of handwriting difficulties has not yet received much research attention, although it is the base for tailoring early interventions for children at risk for handwriting difficulties.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

PHBern Contributor:

Truxius, Lidia, Maurer, Michelle N., Sägesser Wyss, Judith




[19 s 0002 01] Grafset - Settings der Förderung der Grafomotorik Official URL




Lidia Truxius

Date Deposited:

14 Feb 2024 13:47

Last Modified:

18 Feb 2024 00:11

Publisher DOI:





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