Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Gary E. Bingham

Second Advisor

Cynthia Puranik

Third Advisor

Lee Branum-Martin

Fourth Advisor

Chenyi Zhang

Fifth Advisor

Hope K. Gerde


Children's early writing skills develop significantly during the preschool period, with such development setting the foundation for children's future literacy and academic success (Aram, 2005; Graham & Hebert, 2011; National Early Literacy Panel [NELP], 2008). However, limited research exists on how to elicit and score young children's early writing performance in a manner that aligns with multi-dimensional conceptualizations of early writing skill development (Berninger & Swanson, 1994; Puranik & Lonigan, 2014). The majority of research on early writing development focuses narrowly on children's transcription skills, which are children's ability to coordinate their fine motor skills, orthographic knowledge, and print awareness to create writing products (Berninger & Swanson, 1994; McCutchen, 2000; Puranik & Lonigan, 2014). Much less is known about the development of children's composing skills (i.e., children's ability to generate and organize their ideas and intentional attempts to use the written form to express the ideas; Quinn et al., 2020, 2021; Rowe & Wilson, 2015) or how to best assess them. This study addresses these limitations by examining how the use of multiple early writing tasks and a refined scoring system, designed to align with the multidimensional conceptualization of early writing skills, captures young children's writing skills. Multiple structural equation models are employed to explore how the writing tasks and the refined scoring rubrics work together to capture children's early writing skills. The final multi-trait multi-method (MTMM) model indicated that three distinct early writing skills exist at the preschool level, namely handwriting, spelling, and composing skills. It also confirmed that the early writing skills elicited by the four early writing tasks (i.e., name, letter, word, and story writing) varied from each other. This means these early writing tasks provide unique information about children’s writing and can be used for different assessment purposes. The refined coding system and the four early writing tasks were confirmed as reliable and valid measures of preschool early writing.


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Available for download on Thursday, December 05, 2024