The effects of word prediction and text-to-speech technologies on the narrative writing skills of students with specific learning disabilities

Monica C Silio, Florida International University


This study investigated the effects of word prediction and text-to-speech on the narrative composition writing skills of 6, fifth-grade Hispanic boys with specific learning disabilities (SLD). A multiple baseline design across subjects was used to explore the efficacy of word prediction and text-to-speech alone and in combination on four dependent variables: writing fluency (words per minute), syntax (T-units), spelling accuracy, and overall organization (holistic scoring rubric). Data were collected and analyzed during baseline, assistive technology interventions, and at 2-, 4-, and 6-week maintenance probes. Participants were equally divided into Cohorts A and B, and two separate but related studies were conducted. Throughout all phases of the study, participants wrote narrative compositions for 15-minute sessions. During baseline, participants used word processing only. During the assistive technology intervention condition, Cohort A participants used word prediction followed by word prediction with text-to-speech. Concurrently, Cohort B participants used text-to-speech followed by text-to-speech with word prediction. The results of this study indicate that word prediction alone or in combination with text-to-speech has a positive effect on the narrative writing compositions of students with SLD. Overall, participants in Cohorts A and B wrote more words, more T-units, and spelled more words correctly. A sign test indicated that these perceived effects were not likely due to chance. Additionally, the quality of writing improved as measured by holistic rubric scores. When participants in Cohort B used text-to-speech alone, with the exception of spelling accuracy, inconsequential results were observed on all dependent variables. This study demonstrated that word prediction alone or in combination assists students with SLD to write longer, improved-quality, narrative compositions. These results suggest that word prediction or word prediction with text-to-speech be considered as a writing support to facilitate the production of a first draft of a narrative composition. However, caution should be given to the use of text-to-speech alone as its effectiveness has not been established. Recommendations for future research include investigating the use of these technologies in other phases of the writing process, with other student populations, and with other writing styles. Further, these technologies should be investigated while integrated into classroom composition instruction.

Subject Area

Special education|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Silio, Monica C, "The effects of word prediction and text-to-speech technologies on the narrative writing skills of students with specific learning disabilities" (2008). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3343358.