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Exploring individual and gender differences in early writing performance

Adams, A and Simmons, FR (2018) Exploring individual and gender differences in early writing performance. Reading and Writing. ISSN 0922-4777

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Boys’ relatively poor progress in writing development is of particular concern in education with both cognitive and social factors proposed as possible accounts of this discrepancy. This study examined whether differences in cognitive skills such as handwriting and spelling or phonological processing abilities could explain gender differences in early writing. An opportunity sample of 116 children (52 male) ranging in age from 5:0 to 6:7 years were recruited from six UK schools. Tasks assessing vocabulary and letter knowledge, phonological awareness and phonological short-term memory skills were presented to children who were also asked to complete a number of transcription, spelling and writing tasks. Boys tended to produce shorter written compositions containing fewer correctly spelled words which were judged to be of a lower quality than texts produced by girls. However, no significant advantage for girls was identified in their vocabulary, letter knowledge or phonological processing skills, proposed as cognitive underpinnings of writing. Some relationships between phonological skills and aspects of writing differed between boys and girls and these were explored further in multiple regression analyses with gender and these phonological skills included as interaction terms. Gender predicted significant unique variance, independently of cognitive skills, in alphabet transcription and writing quality, although not dictated spelling skills. No associations between phonological skills and writing were moderated by gender. The possible role for environmental, motivational or attitudinal factors in explaining gender differences in early writing abilities should therefore perhaps be explored.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 13 Education, 17 Psychology And Cognitive Sciences, 20 Language, Communication And Culture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Date Deposited: 15 May 2018 10:13
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 02:41
DOI or ID number: 10.1007/s11145-018-9859-0
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8665
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