Efficacy of incorporating text-to-speech in the composition classroom
Many First Year Composition (FYC) students tend to focus on correcting Lower Order Concerns (LOCs) when reviewing their essays but addressing these types of errors only represents part of effective academic writing. Research points to the benefits of having students read their essays aloud to help them hear mistakes in their writing, including an increased ability to hear Higher Order Concerns (HOCs), but many students do not read their essays aloud. The purpose of this study was to determine if teaching six Texas Woman’s University FYC students sampled from survey responses that ascertained their computer and writing experiences to listen to their writing by incorporating text-to-speech digital tools during their revision processes helped them be able to identify LOCs and HOCs in their writing. It was determined that although Natural Reader, Adobe PDF Read Aloud, and Microsoft Narrator digital tools lack the prosody associated with increasing comprehension and that make listening to a human voice engaging, the majority of the FYC interviewees were able to identify both levels of writing concerns in their own essays when incorporating text-to-speech. A variety of other benefits, such as freedom from needing to rely on another person for help, were also acknowledged. Negative issues, such as problems controlling MS Narrator, did not alter overall efficacy. This mixed-methods study also addresses composition studies scholars’ arguments that our pedagogy must include technological literacy and address potential learning disabilities.