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Better learning through handwriting than using a keyboard

ddapore99   January 31st, 2011 5:38p.m.


Check out this article on how handwriting affects learning. Skritter FTW

ddapore99   January 31st, 2011 5:40p.m.

Maybe it would be good to mention the research on the home page where potential users could see it.

nick   January 31st, 2011 6:21p.m.

It's plausible that all other things being held constant (even the longer time it generally takes to handwrite), writing by hand helps you learn and remember better than writing with a keyboard. But it doesn't seem like the linked article studies that directly. How can one learn how the letter of an unknown alphabet are formed by typing, unless you have some weird input method where the multiple parts of each letter take multiple keystrokes?

It seems like typing an unknown alphabet one-to-one would be learning the letters through reading (passive) and maybe learning a keyboard layout, whereas learning them via handwriting would be active, since you have to actually make the letters. I don't have access to the original paper, but unless I'm missing something, I wouldn't make the conclusion that article has that the physicality of handwriting makes it better for learning than typing.

ddapore99   February 1st, 2011 4:29a.m.

Wow, that's a very objective view you have. Now I want to know more about how she did her research. ;)

nick   February 1st, 2011 7:22a.m.

I actually did find a freely available version of her paper here:

It's a theoretical piece plus literature review. As I suspected, the study she cites is only talking about learning letters by normal typing versus handwriting--that is, learning to locate them on the keyboard and read them versus actively learning their shapes.

Furthermore, there's a citation of studies where although one study found that kids who learned whole words via handwriting spelled them better than those who learned them via typing, further studies did not confirm this effect. So the mystical sensorimotor handwriting effect seems to be missing the more obvious hypothesis: that actively practicing what you're measured on (how to form the letters, which letters go into the word) is what's important, not enabling certain brain regions based on how you're using your hand.

In the case of learning Chinese and Japanese characters, and new letters of alphabets--sure, there isn't any other way to actively learn their shapes than some approximation of handwriting, so that's better.

jww1066   February 1st, 2011 8:13a.m.

@nick - I read the abstract and had the same reaction. The free paper has even less meat than I hoped.

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