Self-taught typists are just as fast as properly trained individuals, study shows

By Shawn Knight
Feb 10, 2016
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  1. I took a couple of typing classes throughout grade school in which touch typing using the home row keys was taught. While those classes laid the basic foundation of proper form, most of my practice and eventual mastery of typing came during late-night chat room sessions using a Web TV (this was before I had a computer).

    I hated those typing classes but in hindsight, it ranks as one of the most valuable skills I picked up as a teenager. A new study from Aalto University, however, has me second-guessing everything.

    Using an optical motion capture system, researchers studied the typing behavior of 30 individuals across a broad range of age and skill. As doctoral candidate Anna Feit explains, they were surprised to learn that people who took a typing course based on using all 10 fingers performed at similar average speed and accuracy as those that were self-taught and only used an average of six digits.

    A technique called finger-to-key mapping revealed several commonalities shared by fast typists such as the fact that they keep their hands steady and don't move them around the keyboard as much as slower typists.

    Nevertheless, researchers say touch typing – if used properly – can have some benefits. For example, trained typists look at their fingers far less which can be useful when performing complex editing tasks.

    Image courtesy iStockphoto

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  2. robb213

    robb213 TS Addict Posts: 309   +92

    I never took classes for typing, and was already typing faster in my early teens than many people I knew who did, or who type all day long (like my mother in HR). A teacher I had used to make fun of me because of my weird, but much faster typing. I'm one of those freaks who doesn't use all their fingers all the time for typing either--go figure.

    I attirubute my typing skills to simply typing in cheats over and over again in a few games way back when. People say I'm full of **** saying that, but that's when I recall noticing patterns in my typing, and key memorization.
  3. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,100   +526

    I think the flaw of this experiment is that it's based on what is really a 1 credit hour course. Touch typing teaches the very basics and only gets the user to basic keyboard competency. This is something that can easily be overcome. It is fair to say that learning the proper technique in school may accelerate your typing skills but that doesn't mean other methods won't be more effective or that said technique cannot be overcome by just spending allot of time typing.
  4. SolarisGuru

    SolarisGuru TS Rookie

    I'm the same way. I use four fingers on my right hand and three fingers on my left and I type faster than most people I know or have ever met. I learned to type on my own using my aunt's old school typewriter when I was a kid. I now work in IT and type all the time, and I still type weird according to coworkers, although I type faster than most of them and just as accurately. I think you should type how you want and whichever way is comfortable. I also find it amusing when folks comment on my typing technique when they can't keep up with me. I never developed any hand or wrist problems either and I've been at it for over twenty years.
    robb213 likes this.
  5. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 6,964   +355

    Typing classes are a bit more than just typing speed although I suppose it depends on the kind of typing class one attends. Typing classes can also cover things like setting up letters, letter formats, reports, memos, etc. In addition, setting up columns, tabs, punctuation, spacing and the like can also be covered. Some of these are lost arts these days with word processing applications. I used to have a secretary that I could rely on to take care of these details but with the advent of PCs on every desk, management was soon expected to do it themselves (at least where I worked).

    While there are templates in word processing applications, I believe the skills and knowledge from typing classes (beyond mere speed) served to better facilitate my work efficiency. Of course, different people get different things from classes and your mileage may vary. ;)
  6. bob333

    bob333 TS Enthusiast Posts: 49   +11

    I never took typing classes, just learned how to type fast in online games (year 2000s) where there was a lot of going on thus needed to type fast so I won't die or I won't miss anything. I am in no way following the proper finger format taught in the typing classes, but since I have almost (not fully) memorized the position of the keys, it really is not difficult to type without those typing classes.
  7. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +113

    New revelation: self taught guitarists are just as skilled as trained ones...drivers, cooks, just about anything you want to name.
    Must be a slow news day. :)
    robb213 and SolarisGuru like this.
  8. robb213

    robb213 TS Addict Posts: 309   +92

    Totally agree with you there, but I've always seen this stigma of if you're not taught to type that means you can't type. Whenever I tell people that I never took any classes, I'll usually get odd looks from the older crowds. Although that seems to be dying off today.
  9. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,937

    In my days at school typing was only taught to girls, on typewriters. Home computers didn't exist back then.
  10. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 6,964   +355

    At my school it was true that mostly girls took the class but one male friend and I were the only males in the class. The typewriters we used were heavy manual models. I was anticipating using the typing skills for future college work. Little did I realize it would come in handy later at work when PCs became common.
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,335   +1,937

    True. Back in my day boys just didn't do typing, it was literally unheard of and if one was brave/stupid enough to take typing class then he'd better be ready for a world of insults and ridicule. Boys were discouraged from taking typing class by the teachers anyway, much like they were discouraged from taking home economics (cooking class).
    I'm referring to our coed schools here, I attended an all boys school and such subjects were never in the curriculum anyway.
  12. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,248   +220

    Very similar way of typing as me. I use four fingers on my left hand and three on my right hand. Usually type with my pointer, middle and thumbs for space and what not. It just depends what position my hand is in and what finger is closer to which letter.

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