Domtar unveils 'Project Learning Curve' to focus on handwriting in the new school year

Research Increasingly Shows Handwriting Helps Students Learn, Remember, Express Ideas and Perform Better in a Variety of Ways

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(NYSE: UFS) (TSX: UFS)

MONTREAL, Sept. 17, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - With a new school year starting, Domtar Corporation (NYSE:  UFS) (TSX: UFS) unveiled Project Learning Curve, an effort to increase focus on handwriting and the research that shows how much it benefits students.

As part of Project Learning Curve, Domtar has been working with software developers on an app. that helps connect a digital pen to a computer, allowing teachers to measure students' progress. The teachers can track how long students spend on handwriting, or set classroom goals for students, such as writing enough characters to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a fun way to encourage students to spend more time handwriting, to engage both students and parents, and to help teachers monitor the progress being made at home.

Parents and teachers can learn more about Project Learning Curve and watch a short video at www.paperbecause.com/projectlearningcurve. Anyone with the Anoto pen can also download the free app. Here's where to buy the pen and where to download the application.

"A growing body of research underscores the importance of handwriting and the brain development it stimulates, yet a growing number of classrooms have eliminated handwriting from the curriculum because of the greater availability of technology," said Paige Goff, Domtar's vice president of sustainability and business communications. "Project Learning Curve illustrates how print and pixels can complement each other in the classroom, giving students the best chance of success."

Researchers have found handwriting helps students learn, remember, express ideas and perform better in a variety of ways. Consider:

  • Experts at Indiana University conducted brain scans on pre-literate children ages 4 to 6 to determine whether printing letters, tracing them or typing is the most effective method in the learning process. The children tried each method, and then received a functional MRI scan in a device designed to look like a spaceship. The results? If children wrote by hand, the experts saw neural activity in three areas of the brain that was far more enhanced. These areas get activated in adults when they read and write.
  • Good handwriting can play a role in classroom performance. It can take a generic classroom test score from the 50th percentile to the 84th percentile, while bad penmanship could tank it to the 16th, said an education professor at Vanderbilt University in this Wall Street Journal article.
  • A Florida International University researcher found a similar link. She looked at students' grades on fine motor writing tasks in pre-K and their grades in elementary school. Those who did well on fine motor tasks had an average GPA of 3.02 in math and 2.84 in reading, a "B" grade. Those who struggled with fine motor tasks had an average GPA of 2.30 in math and 2.12 in reading, the equivalent of a "C."
  • Handwriting can also help older students. Psychologists at Princeton and UCLA have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard. This difference does not necessarily stem from the distracting effects of computers. Rather, writing by hand allows students to process a lecture's content and reframe it. This process of reflection and manipulation can lead to better understanding and memory encoding, according to this New York Times article.
  • An article in Psychology Today, titled "Why Writing by Hand Could Make You Smarter," highlights similar findings. A professor at the University of Washington, for example, studied children in grades two, four and six, finding they wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand and not with a keyboard.

"Educators have noted that even after calculators were invented, schools continued to teach math," Goff said, referring to a recent gathering in Washington for National Handwriting Day. "Why should parents and teachers treat handwriting any differently?"

About Domtar
Domtar Corporation (NYSE: UFS) (TSX: UFS) designs, manufactures, markets and distributes a wide variety of fiber-based products including communication papers, specialty and packaging papers and absorbent hygiene products. The foundation of its business is a network of world class wood fiber converting assets that produce papergrade, fluff and specialty pulps. The majority of its pulp production is consumed internally to manufacture paper and consumer products. Domtar is the largest integrated marketer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America with recognized brands such as Cougar®, Lynx® Opaque Ultra, Husky® Opaque Offset, First Choice® and Domtar EarthChoice®. Domtar is also a leading marketer and producer of a broad line of incontinence care products marketed primarily under the Attends®, IncoPack and Indasec® brand names as well as baby diapers. In 2013, Domtar had sales of US$5.4 billion from some 50 countries. The Company employs approximately 10,000 people. To learn more, visit www.domtar.com.

SOURCE: Domtar Corporation

For further information:

MEDIA RELATIONS
David Struhs
Vice-President
Corporate Communications and Sustainability
Tel: 803-802-8031

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Kathy Wholley
Director, Communications & Strategy
Business and Sustainability Communications
Tel: 803-802-8006

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Domtar Corporation

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