Credentials Display

Anne H. Zachry, PhD, OTR/L; Allison Doan, OTS; Stephanie Lancaster, OTR/L; Brittany Simmons, OTS; Cary Smith, OTS; Nicol Wicker, OTS


Background: Handwriting is an important skill to master because handwriting demands take up a significant portion of the school day. Pediatric occupational therapists evaluate and treat children who are experiencing challenges with handwriting; therefore, it is important for practitioners to understand the performance of children using both of these writing styles.

Method: A convenience sample of 36 fifth and sixth grade students participated in the study. Print and cursive handwriting samples were collected on two separate occasions, and a Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test was used to examine speed and legibility differences in these writing styles.

Results: Speed in print writing did not differ significantly for gender between the fifth and sixth graders. Cursive writing speed improved significantly for the sixth grade female students compared to the fifth grade female students. Female print legibility scores decreased from the fifth to the sixth grade. Regardless of grade level, the female students were faster with cursive than the male students.

Conclusion: The female students consistently used cursive, and their writing speed increased from one year to the next, as compared to the male students, who did not use a consistent writing style. It is important for occupational therapists to educate teachers and parents on the importance of consistent handwriting instruction and practice.