Friday, 30 August 2019

Keyboarding speed measures

Average words per minute of typists
(Dhakal, Feit, Kristensson, & Oulasvirta , 2018, p. 5)
While we would probably tend to think there is only one measure of speed in typing - words per minute - there is actually one variation and one alternative.

Firstly, there is the measure of words per minute, or wpm. The average keyboarder keys around 40wpm, according to Dhakal, Feit, Kristensson, & Oulasvirta (2018). This average was found in a Cambridge University sponsored study of 168,960 online participants who keyed stock phrases consisting of 136,857,600 keys. This is the largest - and most recent - study completed, demonstrating some reliability, validity and generalisability.

Secondly, the variation. Now that we can measure typing speed on a a computer, we can get people to copy type, and then measure how many mistakes they make. This gives us a cwpm: a corrected words per minute measure. Interestingly this is not a 'whole' word measure, but is done by averaging word length into five letters, then working out how many incorrect keys have been struck. It makes sense... unless you are in medicine or academia!

Thirdly and lastly, there is the measure of keys per hour, or kph. This measure is used for data entry roles where employers want to know how many key strokes applicants can deliver in an average hour. The hour is actually only 50 minutes long as that is our 'best' concentration length, and how long data entry operators are expected to be functional in an 'average' hour. To get a kph measure, we can go to Coleman Data Solutions (here) and enter our normal wpm measure, and we will get our kph. However, I think it also useful to enter our cwpm, as that is our accurate typing speed, and will give us a range that we usually type within.

I am not sure how useful the different measures are. I personally feel we should stick with one, but which one? Only time will tell which one has the lasting power... or will all become irrelevant when we can 'talk it in'?

...and that might need to be the topic of another post!



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