From Rhetoric to Practice:

Issues in teaching and learning touch keyboarding

Gwendolyn Alderman PhD, MEd, BEd (Adult Ed), Cert IV Assessor & Workplace Training, TCert (Typewriting), TCert (Word Processing)

A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education

December 2004

The full thesis is available from the Queensland University of Technology.


Touch keyboarding as a vocational skill is disappearing at a time when students and educators across all educational sectors are expected to use a computer keyboard on a regular basis.

There is documentation surrounding the embedding of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) within the curricula and yet within the National Training Packages touch keyboarding, previously considered a core component, is now an elective in the Business Services framework.

This situation is at odds with current practice overseas where touch keyboarding is a component of primary and secondary curricula.

From Rhetoric to Practice explores the current issues and practice in teaching and learning touch keyboarding in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Through structured interview participants detailed current practice of teachers and their students. Further, tertiary students participated in a training program aimed at acquiring touch keyboarding as a skill to enhance their studies. The researcher’s background experience of fifteen years teaching touch keyboarding and computer literacy to adults and 30 years in Business Services trade provides a strong basis for this project. The teaching experience is enhanced by industry experience in administration, course coordination in technical, community and tertiary institutions and a strong commitment to the efficient usage of a computer by all.

The findings of this project identified coursework expectations requiring all students from kindergarten to tertiary to use a computer keyboard on a weekly basis and that neither teaching nor learning touch keyboarding appears in the primary, secondary and tertiary curricula in New South Wales.

Further, teachers recognised touch keyboarding as the preferred style over ‘hunt and peck’ keyboarding while acknowledging the teaching and learning difficulties of time constraints, the need for qualified touch keyboarding teachers and issues arising when retraining students from existing poor habits.

In conclusion, this project recommends that computer keyboarding be defined as a writing tool for education, vocation and life. Early instruction should be introduced in early primary school, with the skill of touch keyboarding consolidated at the secondary, technical and tertiary levels. Finally there is a need to draw the attention of educational authorities to the Duty Of Care aspects associated with computer keyboarding in the classroom.