Effects of Handwriting Difficulties on Academic Performance of Learners with Learning Disabilities in Public Primary Schools in Nairobi City County, Kenya
Mulanya, Emily N.
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Handwriting is described as a language by hand. It is a mirror through which individual creativity, abilities, patience, and organization is reflected. To a large extent it’s a predictor of learning abilities. Unfortunately, 30% of learners worldwide experience handwriting problems against the background of fading handwriting lessons from the official school programs. Over 60% of learners experiencing handwriting difficulties also suffer from a given form of learning disability. It’s against this backdrop that this study was done to assess handwriting difficulties among learners with learning disabilities and determine the effects on academic performance in Makadara Sub County, Kenya. The study objectives were: To assess handwriting characteristics among learners with learning disabilities, to establish knowledge of factors influencing handwriting development among learners with learning disabilities, to find out measures taken to address handwriting problems and lastly to determine the effects of poor handwriting on academic performance. The study employed Logan and Crump's hierarchical two-loop theory for the production of handwriting, that was conceptualized in 2009. This was a two-tier study employing both qualitative and quantitative techniques of data gathering and analysis. The study method used was a mixed research design method which examined in breadth and depth the perspectives, practices, experiences of teachers and learners on the study problem. Purposive sampling was used to get the sample size of 254 respondents which consisted of 5 examiners, 21 language teachers, 25 class teachers, 3 headteachers and 200 learners with learning disabilities who had handwriting difficulties. Qualitative data was collected using in-depth interviews and observations. Quantitative data, on the other hand, was collected using open-ended and closed-ended questionnaire guide. Data was analyzed by the use of SPSS computer software version 19 and results were presented in graphs, tables, pie charts and frequencies. The adversely affected schooling behavior was assignment completion and submission, lesson attendance, participation in learning activities and aggregate mean score. This was vindicated by the ANOVA test that yielded a p-value of 0.027 against a significance value of 0.05 implying that handwriting difficulties had a negative impact on the academic performance study. The findings indicated that the majority of the respondents believe that learners with learning disabilities can develop good handwriting. An average number of respondents had a negative perception of learners with handwriting difficulties. 82% had a perception that handwriting difficulties impacted on the learning behaviors of learners with learning disabilities. Over fifty percent strongly agreed that handwriting difficulties affected the academic performance of learners with learning disabilities. The study recommended that teachers should acknowledge the existence of handwriting problems in the regular classroom and have a positive attitude towards learners who have handwriting difficulties; acceleration of research on good practices and pedagogies on handwriting development and lastly the need to institutionalize handwriting lessons in the national curriculum and part parcel of the official learning program