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Do Keyboarding Skills Improve Student Test Scores?

Written by Beth Budinich – Typing.com Teacher Champion

Proficient keyboarding skills are an example of a background skill that may have quite an impact on test scores as students are doing more and more online testing. 

While it can be hard to quantify the effect it may have, there are studies that show there is an effect. Also, teachers that are administering tests speak to the benefits of their students being efficient at keyboarding. Students proficient at keyboarding also notice their ease of focusing on their writing instead of on the mechanics of keyboarding.

From the South African Journal of Education Vol. 26(2)281-293 2006, is a keyboarding study by Elsie Lubbe, Jan Monteith and Elsa Mentz called “The Relationship Between keyboarding skills and self-regulated learning”. 

This study defines keyboarding skills as: “The ability of learners to key in information into the memory of the computer with the minimum effort and energy use.” 

The study explains that the short-term memory has limited capacity and so it is imperative that learners can automatically use the keyboard (from their long-term memory) and focus their short-term  concentration on their actual thinking and writing. To sum it up the article states, “Keyboard skills can therefore be regarded as an essential computer skill which raises productivity and promotes writing skills.”

As a teacher in the library, I have observed that students who are proficient at keyboarding have an easier time in all online tasks. I use Typing.com to teach keyboarding skills every fall with grades 3-5. By springtime, my students are able to easily create a library research project slideshow – focusing on the content of the slideshow instead of on how to type each letter of each word. 

Classroom teachers also appreciate their students having proficient keyboarding skills. One teacher said, “With all of the online work we’re doing in 5th grade, it is imperative that students have efficient keyboarding skills. Students that are hunting and pecking fall behind and take a lot longer to complete their work.

My students are proud of their keyboarding proficiency. Here are some quotes from my 5th grade students

  • Waylon, who has completed all of the Typing.com lessons through Advanced said, “When I did the SBA test, I didn’t have to look for the keys, so it made it much easier and faster.” 
  • Gavin who is on the Intermediate lessons in Typing.com said, “It feels easier to type a paper because I know where the keys are.” 

Students don’t necessarily know it is easier because “how to keyboard” has gone into their long-term memory and their short-term memory can focus on the content at hand, but they feel the difference all the same.

Teaching students proficient keyboarding removes a potential roadblock to their success. If they have learned all of the knowledge that will be tested, but are unable to type it onto the computer in a timely manner, their scores will not reflect all of their learning.