Where you can learn about, share, and discuss teaching keyboarding

Blue Keyboard There is no reason in the world that fourth graders shouldn’t be able to key at 20 WPM.  The typical 9 year old child handwrites at about 16 WPM so if you can get them to keyboard faster than that, they are ahead of the game.  The reader can read it AND it’s in the dynamic world of word processing which means that their work can be easily revised and improved.  This supports the improvement of writing skills as well as keyboarding skills.

The biggest problem that I see in keyboarding instruction that does not occur in a regular computer class (this means a class that is scheduled for the students to attend daily) is TOK (Time On Keyboard).  How much time do your students get to use the keyboards?  How much time do they practice their work?  How many of them are practicing at home (for all of their possible negative aspects, chatrooms are wonderful practice places.)

I believe that we need to reconceptualize the reason for 8 year olds to keyboard.  They aren’t preparing themselves for jobs as secretaries where they type a handwritten letter from their boss.  We are preparing our students to use computers to communicate in an on-line world.  This means that they need to be able to compose at the keyboard in a real time situation.

Dr. Z


Comments on: "Improved WPM Requires More TOK" (2)

  1. Greg Bradfield said:

    My daughter just finished a 9 week based technology class as a sixth grader. The class is about 50 minutes per day and did not use the full time for TOK. It met Monday through Thursday. She baseline tested at 13 wpm at the beginning of the class. At the end of the class she tested at 26 wpm. She received a D for her keyboarding score as the instructor believed that students should attain 40+ wpm standard. Do you feel that it is reasonable to expect an 11 year old who has never had a keyboarding class to be typing at 40 wpm at the end of a 9 week keyboarding class? Thank you for your time!

  2. Thanks for the letter, Greg.

    Wow, 40 WPM is fast! I am not saying that this can’t be reached by an 11 year-old, but that is the speed at which most adults need to be typing. How many of her students reach that level? I personally believe that we just need to type fast enough for us to compose as we write. If someone can type faster than they can handwrite, they are in good shape. Keyboarding is not an end unto itself. It is a means for getting ideas into a dynamic environment (word processor) so that they can be collected, molded and shared. The average 11-year-old handwrites about 15 WPM. Did you get a chance to read the 5 postings that I posted on the blog that dealt with keyboarding speed?

    Here is a link to them https://keyboarding.wordpress.com/category/research/how-fast/

    You said that the course was 50 minutes per day, 4 days a week, for 9 weeks. At best, this would be 30 hours. What software was used? I haven’t been able to find any final authority for how fast students should keyboard, but here is an excerpt from one of the papers I have posted on the Keyboarding website

    “Crews, North and Erthal (2006) provide a table of “Speed Expectations” where they indicate that it is reasonable to expect students to type at 10 – 15 WPM after 15 – 18 hours of instruction. Secondary schools typically spend a whole period teaching typing. Intermingled with the correspondence activities that integrate with learning to type, a 15-week class might yield 45 hours of keyboarding instruction and practice. This would yield a typing speed of 45-60 WPM on the Speed Expectations table.

    It sounds like you want to question the teacher’s criteria for grading. Good. We need to be able to support what we are doing and why. Please read the postings I referred you to (including the 20 page paper I wrote) and get back to me if you have any questions.

    Good luck,


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