SOURCE: Soliloquy Learning

October 23, 2007 09:00 ET

Community College of Rhode Island Invests in Speech Recognition Technology to Help Struggling Readers

PROVIDENCE, RI--(Marketwire - October 23, 2007) - Through the integration of Soliloquy Reading Assistant, a computer-based speech recognition reading program from Soliloquy Learning, Inc., educators at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) are now able to offer students with reading difficulty an innovative way to improve their content-area reading skills.

"We are highly optimistic about the results we can garner for our students with Soliloquy Reading Assistant," said Jean Dietrich, CCRI Reading Coordinator. "From past experience, we found the software to engage and challenge students in a way that only a professor working with a student one-on-one could."

CCRI has purchased Soliloquy Reading Assistant with grant money from the Chaplin Foundation for primary use with the English second language Latino student population. It is currently available in the language lab at the Liston Campus in Providence, and there are plans to feature it at other campuses. The program was initially sampled in the Fall of 2005 during CCRI's participation in a study conducted through Harvard's School of Education, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

"During the 2005 study, I observed significant improvement in students' percentile ranks, stanine scores and grade equivalencies," reflected Paula Domenico, CCRI Assistant Professor of English. "The oral component of the program led to students dramatically improving their fluency and pronunciation, as well as helping them to gain confidence reading multi-syllabic words, which are often daunting."

CCRI students using the program will be reading material from Soliloquy Learning's Science and Social Studies Library, which is specifically designed to develop older students' comprehension of content-area texts. The program presents the material on the computer for students to read aloud using a standard headset and microphone. Through proprietary speech-recognition technology, the software is able to "listen" to students as they read, providing immediate assistance and making records of progress, fluency, and difficulties in the background. To encourage students to think actively as they read, pop-up comprehension questions are sprinkled throughout the texts. Students must answer these open-book questions correctly before moving on. The meaning and usage of key words are supported by a multimedia glossary. Students can also listen to recordings of their readings, and compare them to a model reader to improve pronunciation and intonation.

The Science and Social Studies Library was co-authored by Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams and Patti Sullivan-Hall, M.Ed. The library includes of 150 authentic science and social studies texts, organized into sixteen units. To support language and learning development, core concepts and vocabulary are presented repeatedly and in increasing depth over the titles of each unit.

"The adoption of our program by CCRI is very exciting," said Louise Dube, President of Soliloquy Learning. "Although it has primarily been used in the K-12 sector, we hope that successful results at CCRI will pave the way for Soliloquy to be embraced on a wider scale by other higher education institutions."

Soliloquy Learning also offers an elementary anthology drawn from children's stories, poems and expository passages to build literature appreciation. Since its launch in 2002, various versions of Soliloquy Reading Assistant have been used by over 5,000 schools across the country.

About Soliloquy Learning, Inc.

Founded in 2000, Soliloquy Learning has pioneered new and effective methods for improving reading and spoken language skills. The company's flagship product, Soliloquy Reading Assistant, provides one-on-one reading support, using proprietary speech-recognition technology to monitor and assist students through Guided Oral Reading, the research-proven best practice for fostering reading progress beyond the basics. Design has been led by literacy expert, Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams. Research on the efficacy of Soliloquy Reading Assistant has been sponsored through research grants from NICHD and IES/US Dept of Education. Soliloquy Learning is a privately held company based in Waltham, Mass. For more information visit: http://www.soliloquylearning.com.