Main Research Projects
Understanding skills underlying handwriting and keyboarding
Both handwriting and keyboarding are everyday activities that are extremely complex. From a neuro-developmental perspective, they are interesting and unique because they require the orchestration of linguistic, meta-cognitive, cognitive and sensory-motor abilities. Recent fMRI studies, for example, have shown that both these activities activate various areas of the brain that are related to language, orthographic perception (identifying shapes) and motor functions. Difficulties in one or more of these functions can affect the quality and speed of writing. Through behavioral studies, we examine the underlying processes of handwriting and keyboarding, as a basis for developing a battery of tests to identify students with poor handwriting and keyboarding skills, as well as for developing appropriate intervention programs.
Developing writing assessments in Hebrew and Arabic
The written Hebrew and Arabic languages have unique characteristics that are different from Latin-based languages (direction of writing, different orthography, use of vowels etc). For this reason, assessment tools that are available for other languages are not applicable for Hebrew and in Arabic. Over the years we developed standardized handwriting assessments that are ecologically valid for various age groups (e.g., upper elementary, middle school and higher-education). These tools are used to assist in identify students who are at risk for dysgraphia. Currently, we are revising the assessment for upper elementary school.
In addition, we have completed the first version of the Arabic handwriting assessment for lower elementary grades. This assessment was developed based on the unique linguistic and orthographic characteristics of the Arabic language, and as far as we know is the first assessment of Arabic handwriting world-wide.
Evidence-Based Decision Making in Selecting Accommodations for Students with Dysgraphia
Students with dysgraphia are often provided with accommodations; most often, word-processing (keyboarding) or extended time. The decision-making process for providing these accommodations is not always based on sound evidence. Consequently, providing an accommodation may assist students in overcoming one difficulty (e.g., keyboarding may improve legibility), while creating a problem in another measure (e.g., slow down the writing). To date, no protocols have been found that provide an evidence-based reasoning to guide the decision process in selecting the most appropriate accommodations for students with dysgraphia. In the Lab we have developed an evidence-based protocol that is based on a standardized assessment and systematic procedure for selecting the most appropriate accommodation for students with dysgraphia. This protocol was found to be both valid and reliable.
In the past decade, with the increasing use of computers, much of the research in the Lab has focused on keyboarding. Although individuals spend much of their day typing on one or more digital devices, the knowledge and understanding of keyboarding is extremely limited. Our research in this area focuses on understanding the typing process (underlying functions related to keyboarding, understanding typing errors etc.) as well as the process of learning touch-typing skills.
For this purpose, together with Dr. Uri Feintuch, we developed two programs.
is a keylogging software. This programme has two main goals. (1) To teach Hebrew touch-typing in an individualized manner, and (2) to monitor the speed and typing process (e.g., errors and error corrections) that the typists perform (using keylogging techniques). This is a unique programme that enables the teaching on typing in Hebrew.
This keylogging software records keystrokes and enables to analyze keyboarding (speed and typing errors) in an accurate and inclusive manner. Such software is the first in the country and enables to conduct in-depth analyses of the process of keyboarding.