Implications for Learning

A young woman with long, dark hair sitting on a campus lawn at the base of a tree, writing in a notebook with a large pen.

For many students, the kinesthetic process of writing reinforces what is to be learned. However, for a small group of students, rather than reinforcing and consolidating information, the process of writing actually interferes with learning. These students struggle to write and consequently spend much more time than their peers on a writing assignment. When they do write, they remember less. From a cognitive perspective much of their mental energy is spent on the process, such that that they often do not learn or, in some cases, do not process the content of what they are working on. Some students with severe dysgraphia may actually complete a writing assignment and then have to reread it to determine what they wrote, especially in a copying task or if they are focusing on neatness.2

Common Accommodations

The following accommodations and classroom adaptations are a list of suggested accommodations, but are not comprehensive or exhaustive, nor will all accommodations listed be necessary in all cases. Other accommodations may be implemented based on the individual needs of each student as recommended by your campus Disability Services Office or other professionals.

Common Characteristics of a Student with Dysgraphia Commonly Suggested Accommodations/Classroom Adaptations
Difficulty with organization or spelling. Suggest use of word processor.
Is able to explain a concept better than writing about it. Use oral exams or testing. Provide alternatives to written assignments (e.g., video-recorded reports, audio-recorded reports). Use assistive technology such as voice-activated software if the mechanical aspects of writing remain a major hurdle.
Overwhelmed by an essay or assignment, or unsure how to start or tackle the task. Create a step-by-step plan that breaks writing assignments into small tasks.
Quality of written work is lower than expected. Provide clear, constructive feedback on the quality of work, commenting on the strengths and weaknesses of the information and structure of the project.
  • 2. Richards (2015).