Students may be missing out on vital marks in examinations because of a significant deterioration in handwriting skills, according to research commissioned by stationary firm BIC. The rise of digital technology is beginning to have a major impact on pupils' handwriting skills, with teachers unable to read exam scripts and emoticons creeping into students' work. It was claimed that a decline in traditional handwriting skills was directly linked to an over-reliance on technology in classrooms and in the home. The study revealed that more than a third had also seen emoticons – facial expressions normally inserted into mobile phone text messages – in exam answers or coursework. It emerged that 82 per cent of teachers believe students are losing traditional skills such as handwriting and mental arithmetic “due to over-reliance on technology”. However, this does not imply that technology is a barrier to a students' academic progress. Conventional writing coupled with technology can greatly improve test and exam scores. Handwriting experts told how large numbers of students were being left with blisters and aching hands after being forced to write for long periods because of a lack of practice. Previous research has suggested that children who struggle to write fluently devote more brain capacity to getting words onto a page during tests – interfering with their ability to generate ideas, select vocabulary or plan work properly. A representation of the influence of poor handwriting on students’ performance by Emaikwu Sunday Oche is shown below.
On being asked about this, a researcher said, “The fluid motion of writing and rewriting notes helps instill the data in the mind more efficiently making it an effective revision tool which aides information recall.”
Margaret White, a handwriting expert, said: “Lack of practice – when you aren’t using a pen and paper to take notes on a regular basis – means it’s easy to slip into bad writing habits, such as gripping the pen too tightly or applying too much pressure on the paper. Because of these reasons practicing by writing is given so much importance. A few more benefits of writing practice:
- Writing out practice exams helps you work on time-management issues.
- Helps you retain things. Since you have already made the effort to formulate the structure of that answer once, it really flows smoothly in the exam hall
- Helps to revise things and learn new things not covered by conventional books
- Improves your writing speed, prods you to improve your handwriting and above all develops the ability to think and formulate answers in an efficient way for practice makes you perfect .
Keep calm and keep writing.