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Talking Books in Reading Instruction and Student Behavior
In grade 1, Danish students used a talking book with TTS (text-to-speech) and participated in a learning design with emphasis on decoding and reading for meaning in written text.
The students all read the same unfamiliar text, which for many of the students would traditionally be considered being at their frustration level. Basing the intervention on connectionist theory of reading and Share’s self-teaching hypothesis, students were instructed to try to read the words before activating the TTS-function.
Only five students out of 17 used the software in ways that could promote self-teaching, but underused the support. Five other students very quickly refrained from trying to decode, instead clicking the full page TTS.
Another five students did not at any point try to decode words independently.
These results suggest that by using TTS and talking books in reading instruction without measures to fine tune the scaffolding, it is very doubtful whether any students benefit from the TTS at all.