Handwriting to Learn

Embedding a Crucial Study Skill in a Gateway Science Course


  • Shylaja Akkaraju CUNY Bronx Community College




Handwriting, threshold experience, retrieval practice, desirable difficulties, flipped learning


Handwriting is a multisensory process known to enhance memory, focus, engagement, and cognition in the learner, thereby making it a valuable study skill. In an attempt to embed handwriting as a study skill in a gateway science course, I used a combination of scaffolding and individual student consultations. Scaffolding emphasized the use of desirable difficulties and retrieval practice through the implementation of techniques such as the flipped learning approach and take home-in class hybrid essay exams. While the former helped to increase overall student success the latter technique was aimed at enhancing written fluency in the subject, curbing procrastination, and providing opportunities for high impact retrieval practice during the in-class essay exams. One-on-one student consultations that emphasized rewriting and maintaining good notes were used as interventions throughout the semester to promote positive study behavior and also as a crucial stage in preparing for each unit exam. Level of student engagement in using handwriting as a study skill was traced within the context of a typical threshold experience. Handwriting as a study skill was successfully embedded in this course and showed positive results in terms of student retention, engagement, and overall success.