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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 0038-2337

Abstract

FRANZSEN, Denise  and  STEWART, Aimee. Identifying the factors that contribute to hand writing problems experienced by students at a higher education institution in South Africa. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2014, vol.44, n.1, pp. 03-08. ISSN 0038-2337.

The assessment of the handwriting of students in Higher Education Institutions has received little attention. This study therefore determined the handwriting problems reported by 300 students at the University of the Witwatersrand when writing examinations. These students were also screened for factors related to dysfunction in their hand writing using a short screening copying task and analysed for its quality and errors. A Handwriting Assessment Checklist was used to assess various factors related to handwriting such as posture and pen grasp as observed by two trained occupational therapists. Students appear to have little understanding of their handwriting problems as those reporting that handwriting affected their ability to finish examinations were not those identified as having dysfunctional handwriting. Speed of writing was significantly affected by poor positioning of the paper (p<0.03), following of text being copied related to motor dysgraphia and oculomotor function (p<0.00), maintenance of grasp on the pen (p<0.04) and accuracy when copying (p<0.02). Legibility in contrast was significantly worse due to holding the pen too close to the tip (p<0.00), pressure used when writing (p<0.0l), deterioration or change in the writing (p<0.0l) errors related to missing words (p<0.02) and spelling mistakes(p<0.003). These factors may be related to motor and/or dyslexic dysgraphia. These factors should therefore be considered with a speed and legibility score when assessing whether a student presents with a "real" handwriting problem so further appropriate assessment can determine accommodations the student needs to allow them to complete their examinations.

Keywords : Legibility; Speed of writing; Motor and dyslexic dysgraphia.

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