The effect of a scissor skills program on bilateral fine motor skills in preschool children in South Africa including skill improvement, equivalence, transferability of skills and skill retention

Ratcliffe, Ingrid
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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
The purpose of this study was to assess the improvement of scissor skills after a graded scissor skills program in preschool children in South Africa (SA). A bilateral fine motor skills assessment tool was developed for use in this research. This task-based assessment included every day activities required at school as well as personal management items. This research phase included the development of the test items and test instructions, scoring as well as validity and reliability testing of the assessment. A suitable scissor skills program was then developed for Grade 0 children in South Africa. The program was validated by a pilot study and also by a focus group of occupational therapists. Some changes were made to the picture selection, the grading of the program, as well as to teacher instructions on how to present the program before it was finalised and ready for use in the implementation phase of the research study. The implementation phase of the study included the individual assessment of 149 learners (mean age of 5 years 6 months), from three different schools in South Africa. The main aim was to establish the effectiveness of the scissor skills program by measuring skill improvement, transferability of skills and skill retention. A further aim was to compare the difference of skill levels of learners from various socio-economic backgrounds in South Africa. The results showed statistically significant improvement in scissor skills in all groups from the three different schools, as well as an ability to retain the learnt skills. Participants from lower socio-economic backgrounds demonstrated the least skill initially but made the greatest gains during the program, at times decreasing the gap between themselves and other participants. It was concluded that children benefited from a graded scissor skills program, which allowed them to improve and retain their scissor skills but improvement did not transfer to other fine motor tasks.
Thesis (Ph.D.), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2009
Fine motor skills, Preschool children, Bilateral