Faktencheck #42: Handschrift oder Tablet?

Foto: Pixabay

Ich gestehe: Als mir eine Studentin berichtete, ihr Professor sähe Mitschriften seiner Vorlesungen lieber in Handschrift als am Tablet/Laptop/Notebook, hatte ich den Verdacht, der Experte sei einem der zahlreichen Neuromythen aufgesessen. Deshalb habe ich mal ein paar Aufsätze gesammelt. Hier eine Zwischenbilanz.

Erkenntnisse aus Norwegen

Anne Mangen forscht am Reading Centre, University of Stavanger. Lillian Balsvik arbeitet an der Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.

Zusammenhang von Handschreiben und Lesen

Sie formulieren eine Einsicht, die uns öfter begegnet:

Taken together, such findings suggest that the sensorimotor movements entailed in writing by hand contribute to the subsequent memorization of the shape and/or orientation of characters, hence facilitating letter perception and categorization, an important predictor of subsequent reading skill (cf. [41]). (Mangen und Balsvik 2016, S. 102)

Unterschiede zwischen Schreiben von Hand und Tippen

Den folgenden Text habe ich untergliedert um ihn lesbarer zu machen. Die Auslassungen in eckigen Klammern sind reine Literaturhinweise.

Due to the distinctly different motor processes involved, keyboard writing differs from writing by hand in a number of ways […].

When handwriting, there is simultaneous, continuous and concurrent visual, motor and kinesthetic feedback providing the brain with spatiotemporally contingent information – the movement (making strokes, lines, dots and curves) of the writing hand entails online feedback to the brain about the visual shape of the specific letter presently being produced.

When keyboard writing, locating and tapping keys on the keyboard do not entail any such information to the brain. Behavioral as well as neuroimaging studies […] provide evidence of the importance of such feedback, indicating that the sensory and motor processes of handwriting – but not keyboard writing – contribute to the subsequent visual representation and recall of the letter.

The handwritten letter is, literally, an “imprint of action” […] in a sense that keyboard writing is not. (Mangen und Balsvik 2016, S. 102)

Langfristige Schulung der Feinmotorik durch das Lernen des Schreibens von Hand

In light of knowledge about the close connections of motor action, perception, and cognition, replacing handwriting with typewriting in beginning writing instruction is not a trivial issue. Replacing pens and pencils with keyboards may also have wider repercussions than merely affecting beginning writing development.

A study by Sülzenbrück et al. […] showed that lack of practice with handwriting may have the long-term effect of a loss or deterioration of other fine-motor skills. Using a test designed to measure precision and speed of arm-hand movements (line tracing), the authors found significant differences in motor performance between adults who wrote primarily on keyboards and those who wrote primarily by hand: the latter outperformed the former. This indicates that lack of training in writing by hand may have long-term effects on more general motor features of the human behavioral repertoire […]. (Mangen und Balsvik 2016, S. 103)

Bestätigung für die Montessori-Methodik

Wir werden weiter unten noch mal kurz auf Maria Montessori zu sprechen kommen. Ich war positiv überrascht, sie in diesem Zusammenhang wiederzufinden.

A series of experiments by Bara and colleagues shows that a when children explore letter shapes with their fingers (haptic exploration) it increases letter knowledge, and as a consequence decoding skills […]. Hand-manipulation of letters is also found in Montessori schools, where children begin exploring the alphabet, amongst other activities, by tracing sandpaper letters while saying the letter sounds […]: Children are prepared for writing through various activities training fine-motor skills such as sorting knobbed cylinders, which facilitates learning the tripod pencil grip.

Montessori observed that “preparatory movements could be carried on, and reduced to a mechanism, by means of repeated exercises not in the work itself but that which prepares for it” […]. Although there is, as far as we know, no robust evidence in the experimental sciences demonstrating the effects of, specifically, Montessori letter teaching methods, the impact of movement, manipulating objects in space and fine-motor skills on learning and cognition is documented in Lillard […]. (Mangen und Balsvik 2016, S. 103–104)

Es gibt einen Zusammenhang von Handschreiben -> Feinmotorik -> Schulerfolg

The connection between handwriting fluency and reading has been demonstrated […], and the bodily connection and different affordances in different writing implements are explored in […]. One of the main arguments against the use of handwriting with beginning writers is that it is a complex skill requiring advanced hand-eye coordination […]. A review of the literature and educational practices shows that there are many ways in which letters can be explored that help train hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Moreover, fine motor skills is a strong predictor for school achievement, both in reading and mathematics […], and replacing handwriting with keyboarding will deprive children of vital opportunities to practice their fine motor skills. (Mangen und Balsvik 2016, S. 104)

Das häufigste Argument für digitales Schreibtraining: Es ist einfacher zu lernen

The most common argument in favor of keyboard writing over handwriting refers to preschool children’s immature fine motor skills and their difficulties in drawing letters by hand. Introducing keyboard writing rather than handwriting is claimed to be more motivating, facilitating the production of text from an early stage without the accompanying motor difficulties and corresponding social stigma and impoverished self-esteem […]. Hence, one scenario in beginning writing instruction in the near future – already noticeable in the Nordic countries […] – is that of postponing the teaching and training of handwriting skills to later (e.g., Grade 4), when children’s fine motor skills are expected to be better prepared for the task. (Mangen und Balsvik 2016, S. 104)

Der schwierigere Weg ist der nachhaltigere

As shown in some of the research presented above, precisely the fine motor processes entailed in the production of letters from scratch – complicated as they may be – play an important role in children’s letter perception and categorization ability. Educators may, as Li and James […] observe, consider the motor complexity entailed in handwriting a drawback and therefore encourage other, motorically less challenging methods (e.g., keyboard writing) for their young students. However, increased use of keyboards and exposure to single font scripts may have as a consequence that children develop more restricted symbol categories, whereas handwriting practice gives children valuable experience in seeing variable exemplars of a letter, and training in the identification of invariant features. (Mangen und Balsvik 2016, S. 104)

Quelle: Mangen, A. & Balsvik, L. (2016). Pen or keyboard in beginning writing instruction? Some perspectives from embodied cognition. Trends in Neuroscience and Education 5 (3), 99–106. doi:10.1016/j.tine.2016.06.003

Foto: Pexels

Eine slovenische Fallstudie

In den handgeschriebenen Texten (über die Brennnessel) zeigt sich eine stärkere syntaktische Gliederung, mehr Wissen und ein vertieftes Verständnis.

The writing modality seemed to have no influence on the number of words used, on the number of different words used, nor on the number of sentences. On the contrary, some students wrote more words and more sentences in the typing modality. However, the typing modality does seem to have an influence on cognitive achievement: in comparison to the typed texts, the syntactic structures of written texts show a more elementary use of sentence structure. In addition, on the semantic level more knowledge and a deeper understanding of knowledge were detected in the written texts than in the typed texts.
Evidently, students were able to express new scientific knowledge about Urtica dioica [Brennnessel] better in the handwriting than in the typing modality. In the handwriting modality, they also expressed a higher level of understanding of this knowledge – which is the most important curriculum goal of science education. (Kordigel Abersek et al. 2018, S. 93)

Bestätigung der embodied cognition theory

Da muss ich erst noch was einschieben: Embodied Cognition Theory klingt einigermaßen kompliziert. Als Praktiker muss ich da an Maria Montessoris Aussage denken:

Das Kind erteilt uns eine schöne Lektion, nämlich dass wir, um unsere Intelligenz zu bilden und zu erhalten, unsere Hände gebrauchen müssen. (Montessori, M. (1992). Dem Leben helfen, Freiburg: Herder, S. 107)

Übersetzt in Scientese und angewandt auf das Schreiben, liest sich das so:

According to the embodied cognition theory, as already mentioned, cognitive development is not only an activity of the brain: when we learn, we develop representations in the process of interacting with the environment, through experiencing our surroundings with all our sensory modalities. Goldin-Meadow (2003) points out in this context: “hands simply have an important role in the processes of teaching and learning.” According to Haas (1996), writing is a complex cognitive process of externalizing the content of our thinking, which requires the integration of visual, proprioceptive and tactile information in order to be accomplished (Fogassi & Gallese, 2004). Based on neuroscientific research, we can assume that such a change in the visual, proprioceptive, and tactile stimuli, which occurs with the switch from pencil and paper to keyboard, influences, with high probability, the writers’ thinking processes, and consequently their learning achievements and cognitive development. The results of presented research confirm this assumption: in the typing modality, the number of coordinate clauses increased and the number of subordinate clauses decreased – a consequence of lower cognitive involvement while using the keyboard. (Kordigel Abersek et al. 2018, S. 93–94)

Bestätigung vorhandener Erkenntnisse

The results of research thus correspond with results discovered by Longcamp, Smoker and Mangen. Students wrote more terms and terms that are more correct in the paper writing modality than in the typing modality. They used a greater number of correct thematic items and a smaller number of incorrect thematic items while using paper and pencil, and they were more often able to express their understanding of the interconnectedness between thematic items. (Kordigel Abersek et al. 2018, S. 94)

Weniger vertieftes Verständnis beim Tippen

In both their studies, Mueller and Oppenheimer’s students learned less when using the keyboard: in presented research, they not only wrote down a smaller number of thematic items and a greater number of incorrect thematic items, while using the keyboard, they also failed to express their understanding of the fact that particular aspects of knowledge are interdependent – logically connected. A similar cognitive result was observed in Mueller and Oppenheimer’s research, which underlined lower results in the category of answering conceptual questions. Typing obviously impairs the learning process, because its use results in shallower processing. (Kordigel Abersek et al. 2018, S. 94)

Technik löst eine cognitive overload bei schwächeren Schülern aus

The situation with cognitive overload seems to occur with students with poor basic computer skills. They use a great amount of mental energy for the technical part of text production on the computer. Consequently, they do not have enough energy left for coding (writing) their knowledge. They do not remember the thematic items, they do not remember how these thematic items are logically connected or interdependent, they do not have the mental energy to remember and follow the text structure, and their typed texts evidently demonstrate leap of thought. (Kordigel Abersek et al. 2018, S. 94)


Ich habe die folgende Zusammenfassung in ihre wesentlichen Teilaussagen untergliedert:

  • The results of presented research can be interpreted as confirming the expectations based on theoretical background (embodied cognition), as well as expectations based on previous research concerned with the interconnection between writing modality and cognitive achievement.

  • Generation Z evidently uses the keyboard with greater ease than the pencil, and they are able to type a greater number of words on the computer in the same period as they are able to write them with a pencil.

  • A closer look at their text products, however, shows a different picture: in the typing modality, they seem to be cognitively overloaded.

  • In addition, one of the consequences of this is a lower level of academic achievement in their typed texts: they show less knowledge, less terminological accuracy, and, above all, less understanding of the interconnection between listed information. This can be seen as important information related to the processes of learning and cognitive development.

  • According to various theories, writing to learn [Muss es nicht heißen: learning to write?] has a significant role in the processes of constructing new knowledge, understanding, and skills. It is used to reproduce and reflect facts, to reformulate issues and help to develop and organize one’s thinking.

  • Consequently, the school system has to slow down in its readiness to abandon handwriting and substitute it with keyboard writing. Teachers have to consider the influence of this kind of shift on the students’ cognitive development and knowledge construction, as well as the influence it has on the outcomes of educational goals, concerning the curricula of their natural science classes.

  • Presented case research conducted in a biology class, confirms such considerations: replacing handwriting with keyboard writing has, as proven by presented research, implications for high-level cognitive processes of the future generation. (Kordigel Abersek et al. 2018, S. 94–95)

Quelle: Kordigel Abersek, M., Abersek, B. & Flogie, A. (2018). Writing versus typing during science teaching: case study in Slovenia. Journal of Baltic Science Education 17 (1), 84–96.

Foto: PxHere


Ist Handschrift im digitalen Zeitalter noch relevant?

Eleni Karavanidou, University of New Brunswick (Canada), zitiert zunächst, welche kognitiven Vorteile Befürworter der Handschrift sehen.

Befürworter der Handschrift

Those researchers speak of cognitive benefits from the practice, such as self-regulation, attention sustenance, working memory activation, better transcription of thought-to-script, and overall quality of text production (Bara & Gentaz, 2011; Berninger et al., 2009a, 2009b; Connelly et al., 2007; Cunningham & Stanovich, 1990; Longcamp et al., 2005; Smoker et al., 2009; Velay & Longcamp, 2010). (Karavanidou 2017, S. 154)

Daneben stellt sie die vorgebrachten Vorteile digitalen Schreibens.

Befürworter von iPads etc

Others, who adopt the New Literacies definition, which includes technology in education and regards the learners as co-constructors of knowledge (Beschorner & Huchinson, 2013; Clark & Luckin, 2013, p. 4; Karsenti & Pollin, 2013; Wollscheid, 2016), prefer exploratory methods and find keyboarding and iPad interfaces more beneficial for motivational and social reasons, such as creativity, engagement and collaboration among learners. (Karavanidou 2017, S. 154)

Handschreiben in physischer Sicht

Hier fasst die Autorin etliche Studien zusammen, die festhalten, welche vorteilhaften psycho-physischen Aktivitäten beim Schreiben mit der Hand ausgelöst werden.

Handwriting is a unimanual and idiosyncratic visuomotor activity that involves recalling spelling from memory and translating thought into an autonomous graphic mark by gripping a writing tool and moving it on a surface, that provides friction (Bara & Gentaz, 2011; Bara et al., 2004; Jolly & Gentaz, 2013, p. 6; Mangen, 2013, p. 106) and natural sound as cognitive feedback, and where the writer must plan ahead spacial requirements, such as linearity, spacing and velocity of the text. Handwriting connects the visual with the writing surface and the premotor cortex in the brain with Broca’s expressive speech area, Exner’s graphomotor area and Wernicke’s processing of spoken words area in adults (Berninger et al., 2009a, p. 135; Dinehart, 2014, p. 11; Gimenez et al., 2014; Longcamp et al., 2003, 2011; Mangen & Belsvik, 2016, p. 5). In children, and despite their incomplete laterization until the age of ten or eleven (Handwriting in the 21st Century?, 2012, p. 5; Yu et al., 2012, p. 50), handwriting activates an adult-like pathway when they see the letters (James, 2012) or words (Mangen et al., 2015) that they have produced by hand and allows them to memorise them better (Longcamp et al., 2005, 2008; Naka, 1998; Park & Shin, 2015; Smoker et al., 2009). (Karavanidou 2017, S. 155)

Die Vorgänge beim Keyboarding

Im Vergleich dazu die mentalen Prozesse beim Schreiben auf einer Tastatur:

Keyboarding on the other hand is a bimanual, standardized and repetitive activity that invokes a mental schema of the letter coordinates on the keyboard to press the key (Longcamp et al., 2008, p. 802). The pointing and clicking activates the BA40 area in adults, equivalent to the activation in the brain of a drummer (Thaut et al., 2014, p. 435), and separates the unity of the visual and writing surface, even for experienced typists. The word processor tackles spelling and editing issues, as words are produced faster and always legibly. (Karavanidou 2017, S. 155–156)

Das heißt zusammengefasst: Wer reichhaltige mentale Prozesse beim Schreiben auslösen will, sollte mit der Hand schreiben (lassen).

Quelle: Karavanidou, E. (2017). Is Handwriting Relevant in the Digital Era? Antistasis 7 (1), 153–167.

Foto: pexels

Eine Untersuchung in Schweden

Hier wurden – Achtung! – sechs muttersprachliche (L1) mit zehn zweitsprachlichen (L2) Kindern verglichen, was zwischen statistischem Rauschen und echten Ergebnissen kaum unterscheiden lässt, sondern nur als Impuls und Frage aufgenommen werden kann.

Digitales Schreiben verursacht mehr Interaktion

There was more interaction between students when they wrote digitally. (Dahlström und Boström 2017, S. 156)

Vorteile für L2- und schwächere Schüler durch digitales Schreiben

Wenn es unten heißt: speech synthesis, dann ist damit eine Software gemeint, die das ausspricht, was die Schüler/innen schreiben

L2 students wrote longer texts with greater linguistic correctness and better structure when they used tablets with access to speech synthesis. For students with L1, no clear results could be found. Above all, the possibilities of using speech synthesis as a resource when writing seemed to be a positive variable (cf. Agélii et al., 2014; Liberg, 2014) for L2 students. Using various types of scaffolding tools, such as speech synthesis and word processors, can create opportunities for students to participate and produce texts on more equal terms. This includes students with L2 as well as students who struggle with writing in different ways. (Dahlström und Boström 2017, S. 157)

Wie L2-Schüler profitieren könnten

L2-Schüler produzieren digital mehr als mit der Hand. Liegt das nun an den Möglichkeiten der Textverarbeitung oder an der gesteigerten Motivation oder am sprachlichen Feedback durch die Software, die sie vom Lehrer unabhängiger macht?

The text length may have increased for the L2 student group due to the possibility of transforming the text (cf. Elmfeldt & Erixon, 2007; Nordmark, 2014; Åkerfeldt, 2014). However, it could also be that the range of redundant words increased for students who wrote longer texts digitally (cf. Muller & Oppenheimer, 2014). This is supported in the process analysis, which indicated that material processes increased when students wrote digitally. Another explanation may be the increased motivation students who needed a lot of teacher support when they wrote by hand. When writing with speech synthesis, some students wrote more on their own, and they could listen to how words sounded, which could give students an understanding of both form and function simultaneously. (Dahlström und Boström 2017, S. 157)

Abhängigkeit des Inhalts von der Art des Schreibens

Das kann vielleicht auf die verkürzte Formel gebracht werden: Am Tablet haben die Schüler mehr gemacht, handschriftlich haben sie mehr gedacht. Ein bisschen genauer steht es in diesem Zitat [Hervorhebung von mir]:

The results showed that the contents of the texts changed when digital resources were used. The most evident was that most students used material processes (“doing”) when writing with digital resources, especially in combination with speech synthesis. These processes are also common in narrative texts (Holmberg et al., 2016). When students wrote by hand, mostly mental and verbal processes were used. In some of the student texts, when students wrote digitally, there were no processes involving emotions, thinking, and talking. Could this be an expression of the link between hand and brain, motor embodiment, and memory (cf. Longcamp et al., 2008, Mangen, 2016, Mangen & Balsvik, 2016)? This is remarkable, especially if we add the results of observations showing that some students interacted more when they wrote digitally, whereas they sat by themselves more when writing by hand. One possible explanation could be the tendency for digital writing to become more of a description of things that happen, whereas the slower bodily process of writing by hand allows for more thought in writing. (Dahlström und Boström 2017, S. 158)

Quelle: Dahlström, D. & Boström, B. (2017). Pros and Cons: Handwriting Versus Digital Writing. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy 12 (04), 143–161. doi:10.18261/issn.1891-943x-2017-04-04

In Summe

Die oben zitierten Studien bestätigen meine sehr subjektive Erfahrung: Wenn ich mir über wichtige Zusammenhänge Klarheit verschaffen will, schreibe und skizziere ich mit der Hand.

Ansonsten formuliere ich, so wie jetzt gerade, am Keyboard. Das erleichtert mir auf der sprachlichen Ebene Nachkorrigieren, Einschübe und Präzisierungen.

Kurz: Denken mit der Hand, Formulieren mit der Tastatur.

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