Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding Writing Problems in Young Children: Contributions of Cognitive Skills to the Development of Written Expression
by Childress, Amy, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011, 97; 3477532
Abstract (Summary)

While several models of adult writing have been proposed and studied, the development of writing skills in young children has only recently garnered attention. Using measures of fine-motor, language, working memory, and attention/executive functions, the current study explored motor and cognitive skills that may contribute to writing skill in first grade.

Structural equation modeling techniques were used to examine the Not-So-Simple View of Writing. This study addressed the following questions: (a) do the cognitive variables represented in the Not-So-Simple View of Writing contribute to text generation of students in first grade; (b) do demographic variables contribute to text generation of students in first grade; and (c) is there a hierarchy of predictive power of motor and cognitive skills for text generation of children in first grade? The structural equation modeling techniques did not result in interpretable findings due to the covariance model being underidentified and nonpositive definite.

Since structural equation modeling techniques did not result in interpretable findings, analysis of variance methods were used as an alternative method to explore the contributions of motor and cognitive skills to writing skill in first grade. Alternative questions asked: (a) do students at-risk for writing problems differ from typically developing students on the motor and cognitive components of fine-motor skills, language skills, attention/executive functioning skills, and working memory skills; and (b) are fine-motor skills, language, working memory, and attention/executive functions predictive of writing skill for children in first grade?

Results showed differences on measures of fine-motor skills (dominant hand dexterity), language (rapid letter naming and orthographic processing), working memory (nonverbal and verbal), and attention/executive functions (word retrieval, planning, and inhibition of response). Results of the logistic regression analysis indicated that the motor and cognitive variables were predictive of text generation performance.

Findings from the analysis of variance methods suggested that fine-motor, language, working memory, and attention/executive functions can be used to identify children who are at-risk for writing problems. This evidence could be used to develop early writing assessments or target interventions for writing development. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wasik, Barbara H., Hooper, Stephen R.
Commitee: Knotek, Steven, Simeonsson, Rune, Ware, William B.
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: Education: School Psychology
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Elementary education, Educational psychology
Keywords: Cognitive skills, First grade, Writing development, Written expression
Publication Number: 3477532
ISBN: 9781124942032
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