OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to use computerized temporal measures to examine and compare the writing process of proficient and non-proficient third-grade handwriters.

METHOD: A computerized digitizer system was used to compare the temporal handwriting measures of two groups of 8-9-year-old students. Classroom teachers used a questionnaire to identify 50 students who were non-proficient handwriters and 50 students who were proficient handwriters. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) analyses were used to test for the group differences across tasks for each dependent variable. Total time, "on paper" time, "in air" time, speed, and number of characters per minute were recorded as the participants performed graded writing tasks.

RESULTS: Non-proficient handwriters required significantly more time to perform handwriting tasks [F(4,91) = 14.83, p < .0001]; their "in air" time, was especially longer as compared to the proficient handwriters [F(4,91) = 13.63, p < .0001]. Their handwriting speed was slower [F(4,91) = 5.99, p < .0002], and they wrote fewer characters per minute (F(4,91) = 14.63, p < .0001).

CONCLUSION: The use of a computerized handwriting system provides objective temporal measures of handwriting performance, and may lead to the development of additional tools for the evaluation and treatment of handwriting difficulties.

Published in: The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2003,  57 (2), 129-138.