Automated Detection of Children at Risk of Chinese Handwriting Difficulties Using Handwriting Process Information: An Exploratory Study

Zhiming WU  Tao LIN  Ming LI  

Publication
IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Information and Systems   Vol.E102-D   No.1   pp.147-155
Publication Date: 2019/01/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1361
DOI: 10.1587/transinf.2017EDP7224
Type of Manuscript: PAPER
Category: Educational Technology
Keyword: 
handwriting difficulty,  automated detection,  machine learning,  data imbalance,  

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Summary: 
Handwriting difficulties (HWDs) in children have adverse effects on their confidence and academic progress. Detecting HWDs is the first crucial step toward clinical or teaching intervention for children with HWDs. To date, how to automatically detect HWDs is still a challenge, although digitizing tablets have provided an opportunity to automatically collect handwriting process information. Especially, to our best knowledge, there is no exploration into the potential of combining machine learning algorithms and the handwriting process information to automatically detect Chinese HWDs in children. To bridge the gap, we first conducted an experiment to collect sample data and then compared the performance of five commonly used classification algorithms (Decision tree, Support Vector Machine (SVM), Artificial Neural Network, Naïve Bayesian and k-Nearest Neighbor) in detecting HWDs. The results showed that: (1) only a small proportion (13%) of children had Chinese HWDs and each classification model on the imbalanced dataset (39 children at risk of HWDs versus 261 typical children) produced the results that were better than random guesses, indicating the possibility of using classification algorithms to detect Chinese HWDs; (2) the SVM model had the best performance in detecting Chinese HWDs among the five classification models; and (3) the performance of the SVM model, especially its sensitivity, could be significantly improved by employing the Synthetic Minority Oversampling Technique to handle the class-imbalanced data. This study gains new insights into which handwriting features are predictive of Chinese HWDs in children and proposes a method that can help the clinical and educational professionals to automatically detect children at risk of Chinese HWDs.