Penmanship, a dying art despite supportive study

Junette Reyes/Staff Writer

It is essential and inevitable for a digital society, such as ours, to advance.

As societies move forward, it is also inevitable that certain skills are lost in time. As a digitally advancing society, penmanship is one skill that is noticeably on the verge of being forgotten, and not for the better.

Dr. Laura Dinehart, an assistant professor at the College of Education, believes otherwise.

Dr. Dinehart conducted research “to see if there was academic value to good penmanship,” a skill that is not only on the brink of being forgotten in our digital society, but also on the verge of having no academic value in Florida schools, seeing as it has even been considered to drop cursive from the curriculum.

Much in favor of penmanship, however, Dr. Dinehart’s study of the handwriting  skills of 1,000 second-grade students reported that “students with good penmanship tend to get better grades.”

In research funded by the Children’s Trust and soon to be published in the Journal of Early Childhood Education and Development,  Dinehart reported that the link she made of those students’ “grades and academic scores back to the information gathered from them when they were still in pre-kindergarten” showed that “students who received good grades on fine motor writing tasks in pre-k had an average GPA of 3.02 in math and 2.84 in reading,” while “those who did poorly on the fine motor writing tasks in pre-k had an average GPA of 2.30 in math and 2.12 in reading.”

Moreover, students who performed better “on the fine motor writing tasks in pre-k scored in the 59th percentile on the Reading SAT in second grade (just above average) and in the 62nd percentile on the Math SAT,” as opposed to students who performed poorly only scoring “in the 38th percentile…and in the 37th percentile,” respectively.
Since I am generally keen on preserving the skill of penmanship, these research results only add more to my conviction that penmanship is an important skill.

This is just the early beginnings of research on the importance of handwriting, but it is a good start for the advancement of penmanship.

For now, it appears as though the relationship between penmanship and academic achievement is simply a correlation without any direct indication of causation.

This should not be discouraging, however, because it is through this relationship that research can be further expanded to discover what it is between the two that causes direct success for students. 

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