Empowering early learner teacher teams to develop handwriting skills using a digital writing device

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Gaffney, Claire
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Educational Level
ISCED Level 0 Early childhood education
ISCED Level 1 Primary education
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Background and purpose: The focus of this research was in the areas of early learner handwriting skills and teacher empowerment, specifically how digital writing devices impact the development of handwriting skills.

Aims: Such a study was important as digitisation of classrooms is prevalent, thus necessitating an investigation to explore if digital writing devices produce the same level of development as traditional methods of pencil on paper amongst early learners aged 3 to 6 years old in Bahrain.

Design or methodology: The mixed methods methodology approach adopted in this study included, for the first time in Bahrain, a comparative analysis study of thirty students aged 3 to 6 years, registered at a private institute, over a six-week period, as well as interviews with experts and local teachers. The institute’s teachers and families were also surveyed for their perspectives.

Findings: The findings from this research provided unique evidence that early learner students using digital writing devices while learning to write, had significantly poorer outcomes. The main conclusions drawn from this study are that early learner handwriting lessons should be a digital-free zone and young students should not be introduced to digital writing until handwriting skills are competently developed.

Conclusions, originality, value and implications: This dissertation recommended using the results of this survey to empower teachers to guide and offer the best option to families for their children. Further recommendations are for educational leaders to increase in-school opportunities to develop graphomotor skills and to include digital writing device familiarisation sessions for young students and parents. Future studies in this area can be carried out by schools and institutes, they should be longitudinal, include greater student numbers and narrow the age parameters in order to validate this research’s findings.
Keywords (free text)
early learners , handwriting , digital technology , digital writing devices , tablet computer , touchscreen technology , graphomotor skills
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