Page 1

Pedagogische Wetenschappen Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

Touch typing: better spelling and writing

IPRS Meeting Intersteno Parliamentary and other professional Reporters’ Section Zagreb, October 5-8, 2016

Dr. Henny van der Meijden & MariĂŤtte Tesselhof (M SEN) Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen Tesselhof Opleidingen Raalte The Netherlands

This presentation

• What is touch typing? • What do we know about touch typing? • Research at Radboud University • Effects of a touch typing course (van der Meijden & Tesselhof)

• Conclusion: Why touch typing? • Questions?

Touch Typing: used terms

• Visually guided • Hunt and peck • Keyboard gazers

• Touch typing • Blind typing • Monitor gazers

When typing a sentence: 4 processes important • • • •

Remembering Putting in working memory Chunking in characters Striking the right finger

Several authors (see paper)

So: mental actions must

be transferred into motorist actions

A skilled typist • Transfers without problems • Position of the keys • Automated motor actions • Preparation of next keystroke without thinking

Several authors (see paper)

Touch vs visually guided Position of the body Reduced arm movement Monitor gazers: no movement of the head Use of all fingers of both hands Content related Focus on content (cognitive load theory) No need to attent keystriking Touch typers are better writers Reading and typing in one: more cognitive processes active

Research in the past Only among adults - speed - accuracy

Present research Among children language skills * handwriting * memory * spelling * writing

Touch typing vs visual guided


Research at Radboud University



Elementary school higher level (age 9-12) Speed & accuracy Secondary school Language skills lower level (age 12-14) Dyslectic children

Motivation Perseverance

In company: adults

Speed & accuracy Health, motivation

Research at Radboud University



Elementary school higher level (age 9-12) Speed & accuracy Secondary school Language skills lower level (age 12-14) Dyslectic children

Motivation Perseverance

In company: adults

Speed & accuracy Health, motivation

Research among adults: 121 participants


Research among adults: 121 participants



Results: What happened? Participants enrolled


Actually started


Drop outs

53 (9 just before the final test!!)

Final test


Positive results Negative results

39 7

Not enrolled in final test


Results: Speed Speed

Speed Typesnelheid 0,6 0,4

Experimenteel geslaagd

0,2 0 -0,2 -0,4 -0,6 -0,8

meting 1

meting 2

meting 3

Experimenteel niet geslaagd Controle

Results: Physical complaints Physical complaints shoulder (right side)

Conclusion • Less physical complaints (positive final test) • Good exercise and perseverance needed • Negative break when participants start using use touch typing in their regular work In sum: It is hard for adults to change their typing behavior

Research together with MariĂŤtte Tesselhof PARTICIPANTS


Elementary school higher level Speed & accuracy (age 9-12) Language skills Secondary school lower level (age 12-14) Motivation Dyslectic children Perseverance

In company: adults

Speed & accuracy Health, motivation

Research Question What are the effects of a touch typing course on spelling and creative writing?

• • • • •

234 children Age 8 – 12 Boys 103 Girls 110 Pre-test-Post test Control group design • 157 experimental group • 77 control group

3 tests (pre and post) Validated language test (TAK)

Test 1 Typing from paper Test 2 Dictation Test 3 Creative writing

The Lessons • 15 lessons, 1.5 hours, every 2 weeks • Homework • Body & finger position • Repetition • Motivation • Parent involvement


Results typing skill

nr keystrokes Resultaten

Exp pre

Exp post

Contr pre

Contr post







nr errors dictation





Creative writing

nr words





% pictures





% relations










All differences statistical significant 23

Results Number of key strokes/10 minutes


All 24 differences statistical significant


Results Punctuation


All 25 differences statistical significant


Summary of findings • Enormous increase in typing speed • Less errors (typing, dictation, story) • Longer stories, better quality • Significant differences in all variables • Counts for both good and weak typists

Possible explanations • Not only typing skill but also writing skills • Full automation • Less cognitive load • Intensive practice • GUIDANCE is very important Regular school Online course Contest

Study at 2 schools Online course: typeworld

88 students in total 2 experimental classes at 2 schools 2 control classes at the same schools the same test for spelling and creative writing

Children typing school vs regular school 1800


nr keystrokes





825 800







N= 43

0 1

pretest posttest typing school(n = 157)


pretest posttest regular school(n=43)

Online course: Typeworld 100%


2013-2014 2014-2015 2014-2015 begeleid

90% 83% 80%


78% 74%





48% 44%

40% 32% 28%




19% 15% 15% 12% 12%

10% 3%


0% aangemeld en gestart

direct afgehaakt bij eiland 1

eiland 1 gehaald, maar op eiland 2 gestopt

verder dan eiland 11 gekomen

verder dan eiland 15 gekomen

eiland 20 gehaald

A contest: 10 minutes typing : who is the best? 29 students grade 4

A contest: 10 minutes typing : who is the best? 29 students grade 4

Findings our studies? • Learning how to touch type is beneficial for both children and adults • More attention for typing skill seems justified (in schools and in companies) • Lower levels students can even profit more • Automation of typing has positive effects on the quality of the typed work Intensive guidance is a MUST

Conclusion: Why touch typing?

Milo, before and after a touch typing course

Touch typers can actually see the painting

Less productive employees Loss of time Loss of time Time working on due to technical due to lack of skills problems PC

Loss per 6 hours







0:27.37 7.6%

Loss higher: less educated employees (10.1%)

Van Deursen & van Dijk, 2012

Why touch typing? Profits for a company

Labour hours per week Hours typing per day Days off Days not present (training, illness) Typing speed now Age

40 2 28 5 151 42

After a course touch typing Profits in DAYS

243 21

Calculator developed by Martin Beijer,

To conclude: A touch typing course: worth the effort!!


Touch typing for better spelling and creative writing

Paper presented at the IPRS Meeting Intersteno Parliamentary and other professional Reporters’ Section Zagreb (Croatia) October 5th – 8th, 2016

Henny van der Meijden (MSc, PhD) Educational Science Radboud University Nijmegen The Netherlands


Mariëtte Tesselhof (M SEN) Tesselhof Opleidingen Raalte The Netherlands

Introduction It is impossible to imagine a life without computers these days. Already in primary education in the Netherlands, students are increasingly required to work on the computer. Some authors think that children automatically learn how to type by working on the computer, whereas others state that touch typing, similar to learning how to write, is a skill which should be taught at school (Van der Meijden, Hamerling, & Scholten, 2006). Only since the nineties, typing research focused on children. Moreover, the research focused not only on speed and accuracy, but more and more on the relation between typing fluency and language skills. In this paper, we present a study on the effects of a course “touch typing” in primary school children in the Netherlands Touch typing Two typing strategies can be distinguished: touch typing and visually guided typing (Yechiam, Erev, Yehene, & Gopher, 2003). Typists who touch type place their hands in a fixed position on the keyboard and use this as a starting point for pressing particular keys by using all 10 fingers, without looking at the keyboard. Visually guided typists on the other hand gaze at the keyboard searching for the right keys to press and type without placing their hands and fingers in a fixed position. According to Salthouse (1986), four processes play an important role when a person is typing a sentence. First the sentence must be remembered, put in the working memory, then the sentence has to be chunked in characters, finally leading to the striking of the right letter at the keyboard. This is more difficult for less skilled typists than for skilled typists (Alves, Castro, & Olive, 2008). Problems in the transfer from input to motorist actions might cause the differences in text production between skilled and less skilled typist (Christensen, 2004). In several experiments, Rieger (2004) showed that skilled typist, when typing a letter, already prepare the next keystroke. Thus, a skilled touch typist has memorized the position of the keys on the keyboard, is aware of the position of the hands and fingers, has automated the motor actions of striking the keys, and without further thinking prepares the next keystroke. Research on typing skill and spelling Research on typing skill and spelling is mainly focused on the differences between typing and handwriting. A review of studies on this topic by Cochran-Smith (1991) showed that in general typed texts were longer and contained less spelling errors than handwritten texts. Students worked longer on a writing assignment and revised the assignment more often when keyboarding compared to when handwriting. There are studies that reported differences between spelling while handwriting and typing, but also that did not report differences. In the lasts, differences were reported between skilled and less skilled typists. Other studies found differences between. For example, Masterson and Apel (2006) and Quelette and Tims (2014) argued that the visually-guided typing strategy came at the expense of spelling accuracy, and that better typing proficiency might reduce the cognitive demands on the working memory, and consequently improve spelling accuracy. Research on typing skill and writing Contrary to research on typing and spelling, there is little research on the relation between typing and writing skills of primary school students (van Gelderen, Paus, & Oosterlo, 2010). Although both writing and typing require a similar type of skill, most studies in which handwritten texts are compared to typed texts do not take into account students’ typing proficiency (Conelly, Gee, & Walsh, 2007). Once taken into account, studies report a strong correlation between students’ typing skill and the quality of the typed texts (Christensen, 2

2004). Johansson et al. (2010) analyzed the process of typed text production of academic students. The skilled typists, or “monitor gazers”, produced more text, revised less (less backspace use) finished earlier and reached higher quality than the “keyboard gazers”, the less fluent typists. Relevance and research questions Based on the aforementioned studies we assume a relation between typing skill and students’ quality of spelling and creative writing. The central question of this study was: Does improving typing skill by a touch typing course have a positive effect on primary school students’ quality of spelling and creative writing? If this indeed is the case, it would be justified to pay more systematic attention to the development of typing skill in primary education. METHOD Participants Two-hundred-thirty-four primary school students of grades 4, 5 and 6 from 20 primary schools in the east of the Netherlands took part in the experiment. The experimental group consisted of students who were admitted by their parents to take part in a touch typing course at an educational institute. The control group consisted of classmates not participating in any touch typing course. Students’ parents provided written informed consent. Instruments In this study a pretest-posttest control group design was used. The pre- and posttest consisted of three tests: a typing test, a spelling test and a creative writing test. Typing skill was measured by the amount of keystrokes per 10 minutes (A/10min) and the number of errors while typing up an examination script of the Dutch Alliance of Stenography and Typewriting. As not every child reached the same A/10min, the errors are presented as percentages. Spelling skill was measured with a dictation which consisted of nine sentences taken from the Cito vocabulary exercise program. Every deviation from the original spelling by Cito was scored as error. The creative writing assignment of the Language Test for All Children [TAK] (Verhoeven & van der Meer, 1993) was used to examine students’ level of creative writing skill. In the creative writing assignment students typed a story based on a comic of eight pictures. The quality of the story was determined by analyzing 1) length of the text (in words); 2) number of described pictures; 3) temporal and causal relations (in percentages); 4) accuracy; 5) punctuation; and 6) capital use. Touch typing course The course was taught by a certified teacher of the educational institute. Every two weeks students had a class of one and a half hour. In total, students attended 15 classes. If students fell behind in typing they got the opportunity to attend an extra class in the intervening week. Students used the written course ‘Blindelings’ (Wees-Bremers, 2008) and the online course TypeWorld (Educatieve Uitgeverij Instruct, 2013). RESULTS In Table 1 mean scores at the pre- and posttest for the experimental and control group are presented. The data show the control group to have slightly better scores on most variables at the pretest. Data of the posttest indicate that both the experimental and the control group improved on almost all variables.


Table 1 Means Experimental and Controlgroup Typing skill, Spelling skill, Creative writing

Experimental group (pretest, N=157)

Control group

(posttest, N=155)

(pretest, N=56)

(posttest, N=54)





















% number of pictures benoemd





% temporal/causal relations










capital use









Typing skill number strokes/10 min % errors Spelling skill number errors dictation Creative writing number of words

% spelling errors

Effect of the typing course To examine whether improving typing skill by a touch typing course had a positive effect on spelling and creative writing skill of primary school students, SPSS statistical test were conducted (GLM Repeated measures ANOVA’s). An overview of the main and interaction effects and associated effect sizes can be found in Table 2. Table 2 Main/Interactions Effects and Effect Sizes F






Typing skill number strokes aanslagen

% errors

Maineffect Time




Maineffect Time Interaction


<.01 (1,188)



<.05 <.01


Spelling skill number errors dictation

Maineffect Time





<.01 <.01




Creative writing number words

Maineffect Time Interaction

% described pictures

Maineffect Time Interaction

% temp/causal relations

Maineffect Time Interaction


Maineffect Time Interaction

use of capitals

% spelling errors



<.01 (1,199)

849.69 12.70




19.31 2.67



<.01 <.01



<.01 <.01


8.92 22.06

<.01 <.01


Maineffect Time

Maineffect Time




<.01 <.01




Typing skill Typing skill was measured by the A/10min while typing a script and the percentage of errors in this typing. Students who attend the touch typing course showed a larger increase in the 4

number of keystrokes they made when typing a script compared to the control group: the decrease in typing errors was significantly different for the two groups. A small, negative effect was found indicating that students who made more keystrokes made fewer errors (see Figure 2).

Spelling skill To examine whether attending a touch typing course had a positive effect on spelling skill, the number of spelling errors in a dictation was measured. The decrease in errors was significantly different for both groups over time. A negative effect was found, indicating that making more keystrokes went together with making less spelling errors in the dictation. Creative writing skill This was measured by several variables. The differences between the both groups were significant for the number of words, the percentage of described pictures and the temporal/causal relations with large effect sizes. As shown in Figure 2, the experimental group showed an improvement in the use of punctuation between the pre-and posttest, whereas the control group scored slightly lower on punctuation at the posttest compared to the pretest. Both groups improved on capital use between the pre- and posttest.


Discussion Summary of the results The increase of the number of keystrokes that students in the experimental group made is remarkable. The number of keystrokes increased with 1154 strokes/10 minutes at the posttest, whereas in the control group an increase of only 123 strokes was found. The typing speed increased to an average of 169 keystrokes per minute. Students even reached a higher typing speed than is required for adults to get a typing certificate, which is 120 keystrokes per minute according to the European Computer Driving License, one of the organizations that are responsible for the certification of typing certificates in the Netherlands. The improved typing skill had a positive effect on students’ accuracy and spelling. Students in the experimental group made less errors in the posttest than the children in the control group, although the latest made less errors in the pretest. Also students’ creative writing skills improved. Students in the experimental group typed longer stories, described more comic pictures and gave more information than students in the control group. Moreover, they made more causal and temporal relations for example by describing when something happened, or why. This skill in general is considered as one of the indicators of the level of creative writing skill (van Gelderen et al., 2010). Hence, the stories of students in the experimental group were not only longer, but also qualitatively better than those of students in the control group inclusive punctuation and capital use. This result can be explained by the fact that the typing course ‘Blindelings’ not only taught key positions, but also paid attention to text design and writing conventions (Wees-Bremers, 2008). Possible explanations We think that there is a possible explanation for the positive results found in this study. The intense supervision during the typing course might have played an important role in automation of the typing skill. In this sense, Lewis, Hearn and Zilbert (1998) argued that typing skill can only be fully automated by following a prolonged and intensive typing course. Intense practice with good supervision seems to be essential to reach the desired results. This statement is supported by a recent study on the effects of a touch typing course in grade 5 of primary education (Banken, 2015). In this study students individually followed the typing course ‘Typeworld’ with supervision of their teacher or a teaching assistant. Typing skill was measured with the same test as was used in our study. The results came out less significant increment of 213 keystrokes/min. Limitations Despite the positive results found in our study, a few limitations should be noted. Typing speed increased, attending the touch typing course seemed to have automated the typing skill (de Graaf-Peters, 2008). Students in the experimental group ‘blindly’ knew which keys they had to strike without having to visually search the keyboard. This might have caused less mental effort, i.e. they experienced less cognitive load, leaving more space in working memory to pay attention to the content of the task (Paas et al., 2003). Secondly, students in the experimental group had several months of intense training to automate the typing skill. To accomplish this automation they did a variety of word games on the computer and typed all sorts of texts. This might have influenced their language development, a development which students in the control group did not go through. Hence, the results of our study cannot be attributed to the typing course alone. As this was not taken into account in our study, further research is needed to clarify this issue. The results of this study cannot simply be generalized to all methods of learning how to touch type. This study was conducted at a certified educational institute which made use of intense supervision, homework schedules, and catch-up classes when students fell behind. 6

Remarkable was the finding that the experimental group scored worse at several assignments compared to the control group at the pretest. This could be an indication of the fact that students who are admitted to the educational institute are precisely the students with weak language skills. Conclusion Primary school students increasingly make their learning and testing assignments on the computer. Connely and colleagues (2007) argue that when children are not able to touch type while carrying out those tasks, the computer might be more of a hindrance than an effective tool. Based on the results found in our study, we agree with this argument. Learning how to touch type seems to be worth the effort and it appears to be justified to pay more attention to typing skill in primary education. But fully automation only can be achieved with intensive guidance. References

Alves, R., Castro, S., & Olive, T. (2008). Execution and pauses in writing narratives: Processing time, cognitive effort and typing skill. International Journal of Psychology 43(6), 969-979. Banken, A. (2015). Typen getoetst. Een onderzoek naar het effect van blindtypen op talige en cognitieve taken bij basisschoolkinderen. Master Thesis Onderderwijskunde Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. Cochran-Smith, M. (1991). Word processing and writing in elementary classrooms: A critical review of related literature. Review of Educational Research, 61(1), 07â&#x20AC;&#x201C;55. Conelly, V., Gee, D., & Walsh.E. (2007). A conmparison of keyboarded and handwritten compositions and the relation with the transcription speed. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 479-492. Christensen C. (2004).Relationship between orthographic-motor integration and computer use for the production of creative and well-structured written text. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(4), 551-564. Graaf-Peters, V. de (2008). Motorische ontwikkeling is een proces! De meerwaarde van dynamische theorievorming voor inzicht in motorische ontwikkeling en vroege interventie. Capita Selecta. Stimulus 2, 108-120. Gelderen, A. van, Paus, H., & Oosterlo, A. (2010). Schrijven beschreven. Uitwerking van het referentiekader Nederlandse taal voor het schrijfonderwijs op de basisschool. Enschede, Nederland: SLO, Nationaal Expertisecentrum Leerplanontwikkeling.


Johansson, R., Wengelin, A., Johansson, V., & Holmqvist, K. (2010).Looking at the keyboard or the monitor: Relationship with text production processes. Reading and Writing 23, 835-851. Lewis, D., Hearn, J., & Zilbert, E. (1998). Keyboarding as general education: Post-school employmetn and earning effects. Economics of Education Review. DOI: 10.1016/02727757(91)90023-I. Masterson, J., & Apel, K. (2006). Effect of modality on spelling words varying in linguistic demands. Developmental Neuropsychology 29(1), 261-277. Meijden, H. van der, Scholten, A., & Hamerling, B. (2006). Het belang van blindtypen met tien vingers. Jeugd in School en Wereld 91(2), 22-24. Paas, F., Tuovinen, J., Tabbers, H., & Van Gerven, P. (2003) Cognitive load measurement as a means for advance cognitive load theory. Educational Psychologists 38(1), 63-71. Quellette, G., & Tims, T. (2014). The write way to spell printing vs typing effects on orthographic learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1-11. Rieger, A. (2004) Automatic keypress activation in skilled typing. Journal of Experimental Psychology 30(3), 555-565: Salthouse, T. (1986). Perceptual, cognitive, and motoric aspects of transcription typing. Psychological Bulletin, 99(3), 303-319. Verhoeven, L., & Vermeer, A. (2001). Taaltest alle kinderen (TAK). [Language Test for Children]. Arnhem, Nederland: CITO.Wees-Bremers, A. van, (2008). Blindelings. Sliedrecht, Nederland: Van den Dool.

Touch typing: better spelling and writing  

Presentation by Dr. Henny van der Meijden and Mariëtte Tesselhof (slides and paper)