Monday, 4 November 2019

Assess our own typing speed

I have written about typing speed a number of times before (here), but I don't think I have mentioned the group of people who are exploring typing speed on a range of devices. This is the team of Oulasvirta, Feit and Kristensson, who are collecting typing speed information as part of an Aalto University study, based in Finland (2019).

The team have set up a website, where we can go and assess our own typing speed, specifying the device we are using, the style of keyboard we are using, our native language, and our age. The data they are gathering is helping to understand our actual typing speed, using all the technological aids we have access to. I have been able to assess my typing speed with and without correcting for my mistakes. I have been able to test the difference between my manual  keyboard typing speed, and the speed I keyboard at when I am using Dragon to "talk it in".

While, the coding within their entry field does not auto correct for capital letters at the beginning of a sentence - which means that using Dragon creates more errors than I would normally experience - this is still a useful exercise. I simply ignore the errors generated, and it shows me that I actually speak twice as fast as I type, talking it in at 124 corrected words per minute (but not including capital letter correction). I left 3.15% of characters uncorrected, which were all capital letters. My manual typing speed is 55 words per minute, which I corrected as I went. I made one letter (I read "charge" as "change"). This is slower than I had estimated my speed in "talking it in" (which I thought was closer to 180 words per minute), however I do feel the Typing Test data is likely to be relatively accurate.

Even better, when using this typing test, we are adding to a very large data set which is being used for research into keyboarding. What has been learned so far is that: rollover-typing - where we key the next key we need before we let go of the previous one - is a normal practice; that typing speed can be better predicted by how quickly we key two characters using different hands or fingers; and that error patterns on keyboards are different to those that we used to make on typewriters. What is also interesting is that there appears to be no difference whether we have had keyboard training or not: we tend to exhibit the same errors. 

The data collection method for this project is also unusual. The researchers worked in collaboration with a commercial organisation who hosted an Internet page offering a free typing test, in exchange for participants answering some demographic questions before they were able to get their test results. Participants were encouraged to share the site, and to make multiple attempts at data entry. This was effectively a crowd-sourced, snowball method participant group. 

There are, of course, some limitations to this type of group. It is possible that particular age groups may be under-represented: however, the research has been designed asking for the participant age at the time of taking the test, which will allow them to cross tab their data with particular age groups. 



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