on Wed Jan 04, 2017
Has speech recognition software advanced to the point where students with additional support needs can rely on it to dictate answers into an SQA exam answer box or booklet? Is it about the software working efficiently or more about the training, support and school IT infrastructure that makes it a viable and effective means of students working independently without any requirement for a scribe?
These were some of the questions that were explored in the Talking in Exams project (funded by the SQA, organised by CALL Scotland) which involved 28 participating schools across Scotland trialling Dragon Naturally Speaking version 13 software with a number of students with various additional support needs / disabilities.
There were a number of interesting Key Findings from the project which are outlined on page 5 of the Talking in Exams Project Report 2015-16 - a mix of affirmation of previously held views about the value of speech recognition software , some unexpected learning outcomes and anticipated results now backed up with up statistical evidence.
This project demonstrated that speech recognition can help students achieve previously unattainable literacy goals. Students with additional support needs who had success with the software were producing work independently which more accurately reflected their cognitive ability. There was a marked improvement in student engagement, motivation and self-esteem when they were able to produce presentable text of a higher literacy standard.
The project is over and the report complete but the use of speech recognition software in schools is continuing and will be an increasing feature in SQA exams and assessments. We endeavour to collect more information, share good practice and offer support and guidance. CALL Scotland will continue to work with the SQA to ensure all schools are provided with the relevant information to support (and encourage) the use of all assistive software with digital exam papers for students with additional support needs. We will also provide the training and support for staff and students which was identified as essential elements for successful introduction of new technologies.
Please refer to our web pages on Speech Recognition and to the SQA website for guidance on Assessment Arrangements in SQA exams and assessments.