Understanding writing problems in young children: contributions of cognitive skills to the development of written expression Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Childress, Amy
    • Affiliation: School of Education
Abstract
  • 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.
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  • In Copyright
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  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Education (School Psychology)."
Advisor
  • Wasik, Barbara Hanna
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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  • Open access
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