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Type to Learn White Paper

By Dr. Leigh E. Zeitz, Ph.D

Research-Based Keyboarding Instruction for the 21st Century.

Dr. Leigh E. Zeitz, Ph.D is an associate Professor for Instructional Technology, Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Northern Iowa.  Dr. Zeitz has written 7 books, including "Keyboarding Made Simple: Learn the Best Techniques for Keyboarding Like a Pro," authored over 60 articles, and given over 100 presentations on three continents about technology and education. Learn more about how Dr. Zeitz's research has helped shape the methodology behind Type to Learn.

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Type to Learn White Paper Summary

Research-Based Keyboarding Instruction for the 21st Century

By:  Leigh E. Zeitz, Ph.D.

Keyboarding is an essential skill. Even during preschool years, children use computers and must be guided towards effi cient keyboarding habits. Appropriate placement of keyboarding instruction in the elementary curriculum and reinforcement throughout their school years can provide the necessary foundation for the rest of our students’ lives.


Typically taught at the middle school and high school levels, Rogers’ study (2006) of Wisconsin schools showed that 85% of their schools introduce keyboarding at the elementary level. While the most popular grade levels are 3rd and 4th grade, recent years have seen successful introduction into even kindergarten classes. This early introduction reduces bad habit development and provides additional benefi ts that include improvements in spelling, writing, and reading comprehension.


While business teachers are primarily responsible for teaching keyboarding at the secondary levels, in 2005 over half of the keyboarding teachers at the elementary level were classroom teachers (Rogers, 2006). This can be a problem because only a small proportion of classroom teachers have any formal preparation for teaching keyboarding (Sormunen, 1991).


Keyboarding is a life long skill. It has evolved from a transcription typing skill where secretaries typed handwritten letters into a generative typing skill involving composing original thought at the keyboard (Cooper, 1983). Student writing develops faster through word processing because it facilitates the review and revision learning process. Efficient keyboarding skills allow students to emphasize concept development instead of focusing on key location.


Mastering keyboarding involves learning technique (physical positioning and movement), ergonomics (safe and comfortable keyboard interaction), and key location. Learning key location requires a sequential introduction of the keys along with a great deal of repetition and reinforcement to develop the kinesthetic memory traces leading to keyboarding automatically. Efficiency is expanded if keyboarders type short letter clusters and words as single units instead of groups of individual letters (e.g., er, ing, the, my).


Sunburst Digital’s Type to Learn software provides a research-based interactive learning environment for K-12 keyboarding learners. It is designed to guide the student and support the classroom teacher through the keyboarding skill development process. Technique and ergonomics are addressed from the beginning and reinforced throughout the curriculum. Students are placed in skill-appropriate lessons and given individualized goals and remediation based upon initial pretests and formative testing as they progress through the program. Key location is taught in cumulative sequence where new keys are integrated with previously learned skills and highly motivational activities are provided to encourage and reinforce practice. Quick-Words and Quick-Blends are letter combinations taught to optimize keyboarding effi ciency. Original composition skills are developed through the many original-writing opportunities provided for the learner. Diverse student needs are addressed through multiple teacher-selected settings throughout the program. Spanish ESL students are supported through an option to provide instructions in Spanish to complete typing lessons in English. Teachers can add original content to align keyboarding subject matter with the classroom curriculum. Visual and auditory adaptations are included to extend accessibility to visually and hearing impaired students. An extensive data management system enables instructors to monitor student achievement and facilitate student progress.