In many schools across the country cursive writing is being dropped as a part of the curriculum in English classes. Many see it as a practice that is becoming obsolete. I went to a high school where until eleventh grade all assignments had to hand written and in script. We also only had the option of handwriting our notes, nothing could be typed. According to my teachers writing in cursive helped us do to do better and made our though and creativity flow more smoothly and transfer better into words. We were also told that notes were to be handwritten because they helped us to remember the information better. To me always having to write out my assignments seemed tedious and annoying, especially because I had never learned to write in cursive, but were my teachers right? I ventured out into cyberspace to see what evidence there might be in support of their claims.
My null hypothesis was that cursive did not affect your writing or intelligence more than any other type of writing style.
The alternative hypothesis was that writing in cursive does indeed improve writing and or creativity.
Most specialists and psychologists agreed that cursive is good to learn and use, but did not have much scientific data to back it up. Suzanne Buranch Anderson wrote in The New York Times that cursive writing is better for memory and thinking and language skills and that was the general consensus in scientific and psychological magazines, but very few people had studies to back up this information, just stating that they were specialists in the field. However I did find one study with very promising data.
In 2012 Marie-France Morin, Natalie Lavoie and Isabelle Montésinos-Gelet did a study for the University of Montreal testing out the effects of different writing styles. For participants they used students in Quebec, where the process of learning to write manuscript and cursive are both alive and well, unlike in many U.S schools, where cursive had been kicked to the curb. They split the seven hundred and eighteen second grade students into three learning groups, those who learned print, those who learned cursive, and those who learned print then cursive.
The results showed that learning solely cursive writing yielded the best results when it came to skills in syntax. These students were able to spell and had higher writing abilities overall. They found that students who wrote in cursive understood the concepts of words better because they were not just a bunch of separate symbols next to each other, but one flowing connected writing. Having this sort of flow to their writing helped them get ideas down better and faster (before they could be forgotten) because they were not pausing as much as their print and print-cursive counter parts. This led to their increased graphic-motor skills which is why they are more skilled than their print counter parts. The reason why print-cursive students were not as proficient, and in fact were least proficient of the three, is because they are not able to fully progress in one style. Instead the automation skills they are beginning to learn in print are barred by switching to cursive, causing their spelling and ability to get down their ideas to be hindered.
In this study the alternative hypothesis turned out to be right, as do my old-school teachers. Cursive does indeed appear to increase ability to write more fluidly and help you get your ideas out better, and just causes improved syntax overall.
As we are reminded constantly in class, correlation does not equal causation, and a third variable or just plain chance could be the reason for the cursive students increased skill sets, but personally this evidence makes me grateful for the hours spent writing out my homework assignments.