Author: Tse, Fung Ling Linda
Title: Handwriting performance among kindergarten children in Hong Kong
Advisors: Li, Cecilia (RS)
Siu, Andrew (RS)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2018
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Children -- Writing
Chinese language -- Writing -- Study and teaching (Elementary)
Penmanship, Chinese -- Study and teaching (Elementary)
Department: Department of Rehabilitation Sciences
Pages: xxv, 264 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Introduction. Proficiency in writing of Chinese and English is essential for children in Hong Kong. However, some children encounter difficulties in learning how to write as early as in the kindergarten stage. Despite of the differences in English and Chinese characters, it is postulated that different types and levels of pre-requisite skills are required for legible Chinese and English handwriting. Objectives. First, this study investigated the developmental characteristics of Chinese handwriting skills during the kindergarten stage using visuo-orthographic copying and name writing tasks. Second, it developed and validated a screening test (CHEST) for identifying the handwriting difficulties among K3 children in Hong Kong. Third, the study examined the underlying causes of the handwriting problems among these children. Methods and results. In Phase 1, 316 children who were studying in the first to third year of kindergarten (K1-K3) were recruited in the validation study of visuo-orthographic copying task and Chinese name writing scale (CNWS). The results showed that the CNWS had good to excellent intra-rater and test-retest reliabilities. It also illustrated that K1 children were in scribbling stage; whereas there were a great improvement of handwriting skill once it is formally taught in K2. Finally, K3 children performed well in both tasks. In Phase 2, the CHEST test was developed for screening K3 children who had suspected handwriting difficulties. 128 typically-developing children and 26 children with handwriting difficulties participated in this phase. Apart from test-retest and inter-rater reliabilities, there were significantly lower mean scores in Chinese and English handwriting among children with handwriting difficulties. But some children with Chinese handwriting difficulties did not have such problems in English handwriting. Phase 3 examined the developmental skills needed to produce legible Chinese or/and English handwriting among K3 children. The handwriting and developmental skills of 20 children with Chinese handwriting difficulties (PC), 23 children with handwriting difficulties in both English and Chinese (PB), and 22 typically developing children (TD) were compared. With age and reading abilities controlled, children in PC and PB groups had significantly lower in some aspects of visual perception skills, in fine motor precision and integration, than the TD group. Finally, children in our sample, including those with handwriting difficulties, performed better in most perceptual-motor assessments than the U.S. norms obtained from test manuals.
Discussion. Direct copying plays a critical role in learning how to write among Chinese children. Phase 1 illustrated the progression of Chinese handwriting among kindergarten children, from simple strokes, to radicals and complex characters; as well as the appropriate spatial organization of handwriting products. The CNWS test results provide additional information on the transition of copying to dictation via the writing of one's own name. The results showed that K3 is a suitable and reliable to screen out children who are potentially having difficulties in learning how to write Chinese. Summarizing the results of phases 2 and 3, it can be concluded that children are proficient in English handwriting before Chinese handwriting. As Chinese characters are more complicated than English words, and more advanced developmental skills are required for Chinese handwriting. This is also explain why (1) children who had difficulties in writing both orthographies performed worse in developmental skills than children with Chinese handwriting difficulties; and (2) more children had handwriting difficulties in Chinese than that in English. Conclusion. The findings of this study enhance our understandings on how Chinese handwriting skills are developed through visuo-orthographic copying as well as name writing; and the differences of developmental skills involved for legible Chinese and English handwriting. It helps educators and clinicians in designing programs on teaching kindergarten children how to write these two orthographies. It also highlights the needs in identifying children who exhibit handwriting difficulties in either Chinese, English or both, and their deficits in developmental skills that affecting their learning process during kindergarten stage.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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