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Writing is particularly important for progress in education and employment, but it is a complex skill that can only be mastered after years of practice and explicit training.
The Writing Research Group conducts internationally recognised research on typical and atypical writing development through the lifespan, with a focus on spelling and handwriting. Our lines of research include investigations of the nature of writing difficulties associated with developmental disabilities such as dyslexia and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). We conduct research in schools in Oxfordshire and on site in our Writing Lab. We have also developed assessment tools to identify difficulties with handwriting speed and legibility.
Our Writing Lab has a range of equipment to record and measure handwriting and keyboarding behaviour. Participants are asked to write with a special pen on paper laid on top of a Wacom Intuos graphics tablet. This allows us to register the xy coordinates of the written response over 100 times a second. We use specialist software (both Ductus and Eye & Pen) for stimulus presentation and to produce measures of handwriting duration and velocity as well as pen pressure. The software allows for the re-play of handwriting production in real time so that aspects of letter formation can be examined. We also have two computers with keyboards and the specialist software InputLog, which records every stroke made on the keyboard while writing. This allows us to measure the speed of production of different words and also the revisions made while writing. The Lab also has an EyeLink 1000 eye-tracker, which can be used with a chin or forehead rest to support the head or it can be used remotely, without any head support. We use the software Experimental Builder to prepare and conduct eye-tracking experiments.