Introduction, Methods, Lit Review

Introduction: Handwriting has always been something I’d like to improve for a variety of pedagogical reasons, including clarity of comments on student writing and on the chalkboard. The problem I’m addressing in this study is to improve my handwriting through a 30 day challenge, or a popular challenges designed to improve a targeted area. Other such challenge include pushup, photography, and walking challenges. In order to address this problem, this challenge has two main goals:  1) to test if consistent, daily practice can demonstrably improve handwriting in general, and 2) to test if working from model letters can improve handwriting on the level of individual letters.

Methods: My methodology is adapted from this WikiHow article on improving handwriting. Each day, I chose a passage from a random book from my bookshelf to copy. I also had a particular letter to work on each day (beginning with ‘a’ and progressing through the alphabet). I noted the time I began the challenge, time completed, and any conditions that might affect the performance of the challenge. I worked from the  font Filmography Lacrosse and I attempted to choose passages that contained at least 12 of whichever letter I focused on that day. I used the same notebook (college ruled) and pen (Pilot G-2 07). One of the biggest challenges for this project is letter frequency. This Cornell site, for example, lists the frequency of each letter in English: ‘E’ and ‘T’ are the most common letters and ‘J’ and ‘Z’ the least common. After completing the challenge, I reflected on the handwriting and noted any patterns or consistent errors, in that particular day’s letter and more generally. The following is a sample entry:

Day Three: Same notebook and pen as before. Beginning at 9:11 and finished at 9:15. Did cardio and played softball today. Chose a selection from Alain de Botton’s On Love, p. 87. Chose a “c” from the font “filmography lacrosse.” There are 11 “c’s.” I have also chosen to focus on lowercase c. (So the instance of the capital “c” doesn’t count.)

day3

It’s getting difficult to focus on 3 letters. I notice my “a” slipping. I like the c – it’s a simple letter, and I don’t need to close the circle. I think I have a problem when I have to close the circle, especially when there are two motions (such as with the “b”). I notice that I need to spend time with my “h,” especially when it comes after a “t” (as in “the”). The “h” tends to disappear, as does my “o” in words such as “love.”

Literature Review: There is evidence that, as computers become more and more important in our lives, handwriting deteriorates. Many people do not hand write as much as they used to, following the widespread implementation of email, blogging, and other communication technologies. Handwriting, however, remains an important part of an educator’s vocation for a variety of reasons: commenting on student work and writing on the board during class. Other research suggests that handwriting is a learning tool that helps students to create neural networks and to better remember material. Additionally, research links handwriting with idea generation, showing improved ability to generate ideas in hand written tasks over digital or oral contexts. For a variety of reasons, handwriting remains an important skill, despite advances in technology.