Disentangling fine motor skills' relations to academic achievement: the relative contributions of visual-spatial integration and visual-motor coordination.J Genet Psychol. 2013 Sep-Dec; 174(5-6):514-33.JG
Recent research has established a connection between children's fine motor skills and their academic performance. Previous research has focused on fine motor skills measured prior to elementary school, while the present sample included children ages 5-18 years old, making it possible to examine whether this link remains relevant throughout childhood and adolescence. Furthermore, the majority of research linking fine motor skills and academic achievement has not determined which specific components of fine motor skill are driving this relation. The few studies that have looked at associations of separate fine motor tasks with achievement suggest that copying tasks that tap visual-spatial integration skills are most closely related to achievement. The present study examined two separate elements of fine motor skills--visual-motor coordination and visual-spatial integration--and their associations with various measures of academic achievement. Visual-motor coordination was measured using tracing tasks, while visual-spatial integration was measured using copy-a-figure tasks. After controlling for gender, socioeconomic status, IQ, and visual-motor coordination, and visual-spatial integration explained significant variance in children's math and written expression achievement. Knowing that visual-spatial integration skills are associated with these two achievement domains suggests potential avenues for targeted math and writing interventions for children of all ages.