Handwriting skills of children in third through sixth-grade: Relationship to academic achievement

Anne Appleton, Fordham University


To explore the relationship of handwriting to academic achievement, the legibility and rate of cursive writing of 241 third through sixth graders were assessed by means of the Children's Handwriting Evaluation Scale (CHES) and were compared to their report card grades, achievement test scores and a measure of academic aptitude (Cognitive Skills Index), collected from end-of-year school records. Chi-square tests showed that two derived representative measures (report-card average and achievement test index score) correlated significantly with legibility but were independent of handwriting rate. Application of the Pearson product-moment formula to handwriting and achievement data revealed a high degree of intercorrelation. Data reduction by factor analysis yielded three factors, accounting for 71% of the total variance: CLASSWORK, the largest factor, which loaded heavily on report card grades; a smaller TEST factor which loaded mainly on test scores; and DILIGENCE, a very small teacher-pleasing factor. Regression of each factor on a linear combination of Cognitive Skills Index score, the two handwriting skill scores and report-card rating in behavior resulted in significant prediction equations. Classwork was explained principally by academic aptitude with lesser percentages of its variance explained by legibility and behavior. Handwriting skills were poor predictors of the Test factor. Legibility and behavior were the two principal predictors of Diligence, followed by rate and academic aptitude. Analyses of data by grade-level showed similarities and differences among the four comparison groups. Legibility in third grade and rate in fourth grade contributed prominently to the prediction of Classwork. Handwriting skills showed the greatest variability at fifth grade. At sixth grade the size of the relationship between handwriting competence and academic achievement was diminished. At that level a group factor, Academic Ability, loading on both report-card grades and test scores, explained most of the variance in academic achievement, and was itself, in turn, predicted best by academic aptitude. The moderate positive correlation found between cursive handwriting competence and academic achievement was more evident in the first 2 years after the switch from print to script and appeared to be reflected in teachers' evaluation of classwork via report-card grades.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Special education|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Appleton, Anne, "Handwriting skills of children in third through sixth-grade: Relationship to academic achievement" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9226416.