The Development of Elementary Keyboarding Skills Using Typewriters and Computers
By Phil MacIntyre (1990)
SSTA Research Centre Report #90-16: 8 pages, $11
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Literature Review




The main purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a significant difference in the keyboarding gain scores between elementary school students using a microcomputer and students using an electric typewriter. The relationships between the ability to learn keyboarding and other factors such as grade, gender, school achievement, or previous keyboarding experience.

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Literature Review

The following conclusions regarding keyboarding were derived from an exhaustive review of the literature:

a) Grade five and grade six are appropriate levels for teaching keyboarding (Saskatchewan Education, 1987: Schrader, 1987; Fouche, 1987; and Stoeker, 1988).

b) Keyboarding achievements vary according to grade levels and to durations of the keyboarding courses, with 20 gwpm a common and appropriate goal for grades five and six (Wetzel, 1985; Bartholame & Long, 1987).

c) Typewriters and computers perform equally well in helping students to learn keyboarding (Lindsay, 1982: Anderson, 1983). The software programs used in past studies have been improved upon, which may affect the actuate of this study, (Lindsay, 1982; Hall, 1985; Schrader, 1987; Trieschmann, 1990).

d) Boys should perform as well as girls in learning keyboarding (Hall, 1985: New York State Education Dept., 1986; Sormunen, 1986: Schrader, 1987; Mikkelsen, 1988), although two instances were found which favored girls (Warwaod, 1985; Lindsay, 1982).

e) Grade fives should perform a~ well as grade sixes in learning keyboarding (Hall, 1985; Schrader, 1987; Mikkelsen 1988).

f) Access to a musical instrument, such as a piano, or access to a typewriter keyboard, should not affect keyboarding performance (Hall, 1985).

g) School achievement should not affect keyboarding performance, although the evidence for this is scant (Hall, 1985).

h) Students with keyboarding experience in the previous year should not be significantly different in their Pretest results from students with no previous keyboarding experience (Warwood, 1985).

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The questions posed are the foundation of the hypotheses and are the basis of the study

1. Will students in a computer group score significantly different on keyboarding scores than students in a typewriter group? The computer group gain scores were statistically compared to the typewriter group gain scores using a three-way analysis of variance. No differences existed for the main effects nor were any differences detected for the interactions among the two groups. A second analysis using a one-way ANOVA showed that the typewriter group gain was significant. Based on this second analysis, electric typewriters are indeed a viable alternative to computers in the instruction of keyboarding.

2. Will factors such as gender, grade, or school achievement have any significant relationship to keyboarding scores? No significant differences were detected between the grade five and grade six typewriter groups, however, a significant difference was found between the grade five and grade six experienced computer groups. Although factors such as gender, grade, and school achievement do not appear to have any significant impact on keyboarding scores, some evidence suggests a relationship might exist between older boys when using computers in learning to keyboard.

3. Will students who have benefited from keyboarding instruction the previous year differ in pretest scores from students who have not experienced keyboarding instruction the previous Year? A t-test on the pretest means between the grade Six typewriter group and the grade six computer group found no significant difference existed in keyboarding speed at the beginning of the keyboarding course. Previous Keyboarding instruction does not appear to significantly benefit students' keyboarding speed after a lapsed time of one year.

4. Will students who have been recently exposed to keyboarding instruction encounter a ceiling effect in their development of keyboarding skills? The grade six experienced computer group had received previous keyboarding instruction from their classroom teacher three months prior to this study's keyboarding instruction. Their gain was not significantly different from the gain of a computer group who had no previous exposure to keyboarding instruction. Any ceiling effect encountered by students who had been recently exposed to keyboarding was not apparent in this study.

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Included in the recommendations is a discussion of a fundamental question: Are electric typewriters a viable alternative to computers in the development of keyboarding skills?

Several sources list advantages and disadvantages of computers or typewriters. Schmidt (1983,b) and Saskatchewan Education (1987) list these advantages a computer approach may have over a traditional typewriter and textbook approach: a) computers provide constant and immediate feedback, b) the impersonal nature of the machine eliminates some of the embarrassment of failure, c) computers can be programmed to individualize and to personalize the instruction, d) machines have unlimited amounts of patience, e) computers may include record-keeping which allows far flexible scheduling, and f) computers are quieter than typewriters. Computers provide for greater consistency when measuring for either speed or accuracy.

The disadvantages are that computers may: a) be less reliable than simple typewriters, b) require specialized knowledge to operate, and c) cost more to purchase and to maintain than electric typewriters.

Any claims made by computer or software developers regarding increased rates of skill development should be substantiated by further impartial research. Warwood (1985), in comparing computers to typewriters, recommends microcomputers be used as the medium for teaching keyboarding. This study found that computers had no advantage aver typewriters in the development of keyboarding Skills when measured in the gain scores of gwpm. Electric typewriters appear to be a viable alternative in the present development of keyboarding skill in elementary school students.

Educators may want to consider the ease with which computers allow students to keyboard at individual paces, the versatility of the machines to be used for purposes other than keyboarding, and the introduction of economically-priced computers before Purchasing electric typewriters.

The following recommendations are made with regard to the development of keyboarding skills in elementary school students using typewriters and computers:

a) Electric typewriters appear to be a viable alternative in development of keyboarding skills in elementary students.

b) Students benefitting from a full keyboarding course in the previous year may achieve significantly better gain scores in their second endeavors, hut the development of keyboarding skills needs to be accompanied by a continuum which extends these skills into the established curriculum. Without continued use, developed skills will regress to initial keyboarding rates calling to question this expenditure of time, money, and energy in the first place.

c) Gender and academic achievement appear to be insignificant factors in the development of keyboarding skills. This may be valuable to the teacher whose class constitutes a crass-section of student abilities or an unequal proportion of boys or girls.

d) Grade six students may achieve higher gain scares than grade five students, especially when such skills are developed through the use of a computer.

e) Stark differences in heights were observed between grade five and grade six students. Serious implementation of keyboarding skills throughout an educational system should take into account the cost of adjustable chairs and adjustable tables for proper keyboarding posture.

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