Handwriting at Grade 3: More Than a Matter of ‘Neatness’


  • Hetty Roessingh University of Calgary
  • David Nordstokke University of Calgary




This article reports on the role of the quality and fluency of handwriting and spelling on the writing outcomes for 222 Grade 3 students who attend a large, public school in a major urban center in Canada. Findings indicate that control over the exigencies of handwriting, and fluency account for a large proportion in the variability of quality writing outcomes. Spelling is important, but only indirectly, in predicting the quality writing outcomes. Samples of student work are provided to illustrate the quality standards for handwriting. We advocate for sustained attention to handwriting instruction, effortful practice and increased opportunities to write in a variety of genres for meaningful and authentic purposes.

Author Biographies

Hetty Roessingh, University of Calgary

Dr. Hetty Roessingh is a long time ESL practitioner, focusing her research on early language and literacy development. Recent work has extended to include the impact of fine motor control, handwriting and spelling on the quality outcomes of all young students. This unlocks the vocabulary knowledge ‘on the page’ which in turn allows us to provide the targeted instruction that many young English language learners need.

David Nordstokke, University of Calgary

Dr. David Nordstokke has a research focus on high school transitions to post-secondary, and resiliency among students. His current work on early language and literacy development and the role of handwriting is also a new direction in research endeavor.    




How to Cite

Roessingh, H., & Nordstokke, D. (2019). Handwriting at Grade 3: More Than a Matter of ‘Neatness’. Language and Literacy, 21(3), 38–63. https://doi.org/10.20360/langandlit29392