There are a number of research documents written regarding the power of keyboarding as a literacy skill. This sums up what nearly all researchers agree on.
Traditionally, keyboarding was taught at the high school level to students who had never before used a keyboard. Now, with computers both at home and in our elementary schools, we find that very young students are being exposed to the computer keyboard. One study focusing on computer use in the school system estimated that students would spend more than 400 hours on computers before they reached the ninth grade (Kidney, 1985). As the keyboard continues to be the primary device for inputting data into computers, the purpose in presenting these guidelines are three-fold:
• to familiarize young students with keyboarding skills.
• to give elementary students the opportunity to learn and develop keyboarding skills which can be used with confidence and enjoyment.
• to integrate keyboarding into other subject areas in which computers are used as a tool.
The student who types correctly can enter data using all ten fingers while concentrating on the text, enjoying the task, and achieving success at the same time. The alternative to keyboarding is the use of the “hunt and peck” method in which students develop their own random and incorrect finger patterns. Creative ideas are lost as the “hunt and peck” typist is constantly searching for the correct letter on the keyboard. Frustration occurs for the student who wishes to enter his/her story into the computer but does not have the keyboarding skills required to accomplish the task with proficiency.
The bad habits associated with the “hunt and peck” method of keyboarding become ingrained, making it very difficult for the students to develop competency in keyboarding. Quality instruction at an early age enables students to become competent and confident in their ability to use the computer keyboard before they begin extensive use of the computer as a learning tool.
Additional benefits for the Elementary Level Student:
The computer is an especially useful writing tool for the student who knows how to keyboard. Researchers Wood, et al. (Hoot, 1986) have found that those elementary school students who have learned to type achieve greater gains in reading comprehension, vocabulary, word study skills and spelling skills. Other positive outcomes mentioned in this study were improved independent reading, superior listening and organizational skills, and improved attention span.
In addition, some educators suggest that students prefer writing on a computer as opposed to writing in longhand because it is more fun and because recopying is not required. Students are stimulated to compose when they can work quickly, and the ability to touch type helps their hands keep up with their minds (Daiutte, 1985).
Keyboarding provides many positive benefits for students who have difficulty learning. Students can compose more quickly and do not have to worry about correct letter formation. Eye-hand coordination tasks may distract from the creative thought and writing process. Students with eye-hand coordination problems often experience frustration when their writing is disorganized, poorly spaced, and poorly formed. Written documents that are neat, legible and readable help improve the confidence and self-esteem of these students. This in turn may encourage students to do more writing.
Carrie Shaw is the President of Keyboard Classroom. For more information go to www.KeyboardClassroom.com. Carrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.