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Winter 2016

Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.


Power of the Pencil

Children who handwrite letters to family members can improve their literacy skills 

Drawing with a pencil

In the age of email and text messages, handwritten letters can feel like a dated throwback. But education Assistant Professor Kathryn Pole has found that children who take the time to write letters to family members improve their literacy skills and develop stronger connections with those relatives.

Dr. Pole tracked 22 public-school kindergarten students over the course of one school year, monitoring their progress as they wrote and exchanged letters with extended family members like grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

At the beginning of the year, the 5- and 6-year-olds regularly used short, predictable statements, but by the third exchange, the children were planning in advance what they were going to write in their letters.

At the end of the year, the letters were longer, featured more than one idea, and provided context for their family histories. The results of the study were published in The Reading Teacher, a journal of the International Literacy Association.

Pole says her research demonstrates that when children have an audience and a reason for writing, the quality of their work—including spelling and legibility—improves. She is planning follow-up studies to see if the correspondence project is replicable in different sites and contexts.

"Research like this is invaluable as it takes into consideration the very people who help to shape a 5- or 6-year-old child's early academic and life lessons—school educators and family members," says State Rep. Helen Giddings (D-DeSoto). "Learning to read and write at such a young level is vital to the long-term educational outcomes for our state and nation."

More articles from this issue

UT Arlington - Office of Research