Iowa Virtual Literacy Protocol: A Pre-Experimental Design Using Kurzweil 3000 Text-To-Speech Software With Incarcerated Adult Learners
McCulley, Yvette K.
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The problem: The increasingly competitive global economy demands literate, educated workers. Both men and women experience the effects of education on employment rates and income. Racial and ethnic minorities, English language learners, and especially those with prison records are most deeply affected by the economic consequences of dropping out of school. The purpose of this study is to assess the effect of adaptive technology (text-to-speech software) on incarcerated low-literate adult populations. This study will determine the effectiveness of text-to-speech computer software technology with incarcerated adult learners seeking to improve literacy competencies. Procedures: The study employed pretests and posttests of a cohort of 24 incarcerated adult learners in two Midwest incarceration facilities segregated by gender. The students spent instructional time using the Kurzweil 3000 text-to-speech computer software in the prison educational center. The study was completed in five months from winter of 2010 to spring of 2011. Data were analyzed using independent samples t-tests and a categorical description for student/teacher satisfaction (like or dislike) and ease of use. Findings: The t-test determined there was a significant positive difference between pretest and posttest Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) literacy scores when using a text-to-speech treatment with adult incarcerated populations with low literacy skills. The majority of students and teacher/mentors experienced satisfaction with the technology usage. Conclusions: The findings supported literacy improvement by using text-to-speech computer software in the incarcerated adult population of students with beginning low-literacy skills. Recommendations: Recommendations for future research include expansion of the study to include non-incarcerated adult students, studies of the effectiveness of adult education curricula, advanced professional development for educators working in the prison environment, more accommodating technology application within a blended classroom, and inclusion of a more in-depth longitudinal study to assess benefits over time with the inclusion of multiple assessments and entry points for student engagement.
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