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Students do better using ReadSpeaker text to speech for education

May 6, 2020 by Amy Foxwell

A study carried out by ReadSpeaker and Softchalk has shown that using ReadSpeaker text-to-speech technology improves student performance.

Using grades as a benchmark, the research was conclusive that students using ReadSpeaker webReader and/or ReadSpeaker docReader did better than those in the same classes who did not use the ReadSpeaker text-to-speech tools

ReadSpeaker text to speech improves grades

ReadSpeaker and Softchalk set up a study as ongoing confirmation that ReadSpeaker text to speech does indeed improve grades. 

Over a period of 2 years from 2018 – 2019, in 3 different US universities, tests were carried out in hybrid and online courses. Data came from a selection of popular learning management systems including Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle®, and Brightspace. All courses used SoftChalk to create and deliver their lessons so that construction of the courses was uniform. 

Professors were given directions not to change anything about the way they were teaching the courses, outside of introducing the ReadSpeaker text-to-speech functionality and providing a lesson for their students to learn more about ReadSpeaker’s text-to-speech tools for education before they began teaching the subject matter. 

Statistical results showed, with a 95% confidence level, that students in hybrid classes who use ReadSpeaker did better than those who didn’t.

What is more, professors themselves observed the positive effects on their students.

“I had really good feedback from my students in both my fully online and hybrid courses. I feel like my students were more engaged with the content and that having the option to have the content read to them gave them more confidence. Comments from my students were that it really helped them to hear words they did not know or know how to pronounce. I had several students say that they have difficulty processing written information and that having this tool helped them immensely. These are students that do not have a learning disability status set up with the college so having this helped them.” – Mary C. Wolf Staton, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Life Sciences, Wake Technical Community College

ReadSpeaker text to speech helps with understanding 

Professors also collected surveys at the beginning of the term, midterm, and end of semester.  These surveys asked what learning style students thought they were, if they planned to use the provided ReadSpeaker text-to-speech tools and then if they had used them, what they thought. Those students who chose to use the text-to-speech tools cited varying positive uses: 

“I used it on a few occasions when I needed clarification on certain sections of the text. In those situations it did help with my understanding of what was read.”

“It was definitely helpful because you can turn it on and just follow along, which made multitasking easy when you have a busy schedule.”

This important study shows the importance of offering courses with Universal Design for Learning concepts integrated, and text to speech in particular, in a higher education environment.

Text to speech as a part of UDL

Universal Design for Learning or ‘UDL’ is a framework which optimizes teaching and learning for all students based on an understanding of how humans learn. As a part of recognition networks, or the ‘What’ of learning, presenting information and content in different ways is a basic tenet of the UDL guidelines. An audio representation of content, such as the one ReadSpeaker text to speech provides, helps professors and organisations fulfill this tenet quickly and easily.

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