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Study Finds Not All Typing Methods Created Equal

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-24 18:53:22-04

A new study from Vanderbilt University has found that those who learn their own style of typing opposed to the standard "touch-typing" method are about 10% slower when they type. 

The study looked at 48 college-aged typists, half of whom were nonstandard typists, and the other half of whom considered themselves standard typists. 

In the study's tests, they found standard typists averaged 80 words per minute compared to 72 words per minute for the nonstandard typists. 

The study also found that nonstandard typists had a harder time typing and were slowed down to 45 words per minute when their sight line to the keyboard was inhibited, or when they had to copy something that was already written. 

One of the beliefs on why people adopt nonstandard typing methods is due to learning how to type at a young age prior to being taught the proper "touch-typing" method. 

"Teaching students how to use the device, they're already knowing," Clair Thweatt, a computer teacher at Cole Elementary, said. "They're coming in knowing sometimes how to use the product." 

Thweatt teaches Kindergarten through Fourth Grade, and in Tennessee, computer education classes, including typing skills, begins in Kindergarten. 

Some people who learn nonstandard typing only use a few fingers instead of getting all of their fingers in on the action, and when learning typing or any other skill such as much, they're picking up habits. 

"There's a lot of muscle memory or what people call 'procedural knowledge.' You know how to move, you know where your fingers should go, you know sort of the layout of the device," Dr. Gordon Logan, Centennial professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, said. 

When Logan started the study along with research assistant Jana Ulrich and doctoral student Dakota Lindsey, he didn't know what the results would show, but soon learned it had parallels to guitar playing. 

"At least in my day, not many people took guitar lessons," Logan explained. "They just learned by ear and by watching other people." 

Like playing a note, you can type a letter, and when it comes to speed, it's all about efficiency. 

"You'll learn to play scales using your fingers and you can go much faster and be more articulate," Logan said of guitar, comparing it to typing. 

People interested in participating in Vanderbilt studies on typing and other psychological test or people who want to learn more about this typing study can visit their website