Date of Award:

2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Education

Advisor/Chair:

Kathleen J. Mohr

Abstract

Research that shows the need for letter-writing fluency as a foundation for being able to attend to higher-level thinking skills in writing calls for more research as to what the components of letter-writing fluency actually are and how they are related to writing efficiency. This hierarchical multiple regression study entailed two parts.

First, results of assessments of three selected subskills of letter-writing fluency were analyzed to determine how much variance they contribute to the task of letterwriting fluency in 49 kindergarten students in December of their kindergarten year. The first assessed subskill was letter-naming fluency (LNF), which has previously been shown to be predictive of reading ability. The other two subskills that were assessed focus on critical features of letters: (a) letter construction of lowercase letters using physical manipulation and placement of critical features, and (b) critical feature production (CFP) in the form of writing pseudo-letters made up of the same critical features as Roman alphabet letters. As LNF was suspected to be a strong indicator of letter-writing fluency, the other two subskills of critical feature identification and CFP were also analyzed to see how much variance they accounted for in LNF. LNF, CFP, and letter construction were shown to account for a total of 49% of the variance in the skill of letter-writing fluency.

LNF accounted for 39% and thus most strongly correlated with writing fluency. Letter construction using critical features and writing of pseudo-letters together added 10% more to the variance of letter-writing fluency. Critical feature identification and CFP were shown to account for 20% of the variance in LNF.

This study has implications for letter-writing instruction in early childhood education classrooms, including a strong emphasis on letter-naming activities in the early stages of letter writing. Exploratory, developmentally sensitive instruction may be beneficial involving early writers in activities that require identification, manipulation, and writing of basic critical features of letters. These instructional options are worthy of further research.

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