OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether an occupational therapy intervention improved an academic outcome (D’Nealian printing) in a school setting. The study specifically examined improvement in printing skills in economically disadvantaged first graders who were at risk academically and socially. The intervention was based on an occupational framework including biomechanical, sensorimotor, and teaching–learning strategies.
METHOD. The final sample consisted of 59 first-grade children from a low socioeconomic urban elementary school-based health center who were randomly assigned to an occupational therapy intervention or a control condition. In addition to regular academic instruction, the intervention group received 10 weeks of training twice a week for 30-minute sessions. The control group received only regular academic instruction. Subjects were pretested and posttested on the Minnesota Handwriting Test, which assesses legibility, space, line, size, and form (the main variables in this study) as well as speed.
RESULTS. Multivariate analysis of variance confirmed that the gain scores in the occupational therapy intervention group were significantly greater than those in the control group. The Hotelling-Lawley Trace value was 0.606, with F (5, 53) = 6.43, p < .0001). The estimated effect size (η2) was .378, with an observed power of .994. Largest gains for the intervention group were in the areas of space, line, and size.
CONCLUSION. The intervention group demonstrated a significant increase in scores on the posttest of the Minnesota Handwriting Test when compared to the scores of the control group. Occupational intervention was effective in improving the academic outcome of printing in children who are economically disadvantaged.