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Free Speech Lesson



In 2010 we added innovative features to our speech intelligibility program.  Besides classroom group instruction, we began individual on line Skype lessons and one-on-one weekly tutoring to selected high-need students.  We upgraded the core speech intelligibility strategies to include the Clear Talk Five Muscle Tactics for more directed and efficient learning. In addition to pre and post assessments of intelligibility, students now did an additional interim test to measure progressive changes in the middle of the course.  We began using individual assessment results to personalize one-on-one tutoring in addition to the customized textbooks for each student.

In 2011 we produced video recordings of the 10 lessons, giving students opportunity to replay portions of instruction as often as needed to master each one’s particularly difficult speech sounds.  We devoted more instructional time to muscle tactics.  We also made one-on-one weekly tutoring available to all students. Additionally, we measured progressive changes in assessments at three and six weeks to tailor tutoring.  Our program thus became even more responsive to individual students’ needs.

Feedback from students showed that they welcomed the convenience of learning on line, saving travel time and scheduling their study at whatever times they chose.  Employers too may have noticed that this streamlining saved them money.  Logically, we believed that individualizing the program even more than in the past should also increase the gains in intelligibility that students achieved.

But our existing program had already proved to be very effective before these innovations.  Recognizing that well intended changes to a successful program can backfire, we needed to find out statistically what differences in outcome our improvements produced.  Did the added convenience and practical benefit come at the cost of reduced effectiveness?

We have numbers to answer that question.  For the 318 students going through our program from 2007 until now we compiled detailed systematic assessment and outcome data.  The data set includes 246 students who received their instruction before the innovations began in 2010 and 72 who had innovative instruction from then on.  It also includes a data subset of the 24 UCAR/NCAR students who completed instruction in 2010 and 2011.

Two important outcome measures used to compare traditional with innovative instruction are (1) average gain in absolute intelligibility percentage points after taking the course and (2) proportion of students who added more than 40 percentage points to their intelligibility scores by the end of the course.  Table 1 shows the results of this comparison.

Since only one UCAR/NCAR student (in 2008, 31.5% intelligibility gain) took the Clear Talk course before innovations began, an identical comparison is not possible for this data subset.  We can however compare outcomes for the 15 UCAR/NCAR students who completed instruction in 2010 with outcomes for the 9 students who took the course in 2011 (enhanced by video lessons for unlimited replay, one-on-one weekly tutoring, three and six week assessments for more customization of instruction and increased emphasis on muscle tactics).  Results of that comparison appear in Table 2.



Traditional Instruction

Innovative Instruction


    (Before Mar 2010)

  (Mar 2010 – Dec 2011)


N = 246

N = 72


Absolute Change in Intelligibility


(Post Score Minus Pre Score)




Students Who Added More Than


40 Intelligibility Percentage Points



from Pre Score to Post Score






Innovative Instruction


Newly Enhanced Innovative Instruction


In 2010

In 2011


N = 15  

N = 9


Absolute Change in Intelligibility



(Post Score Minus Pre Score)


Students Who Added More Than



40 Intelligibility Percentage Points



from Pre Score to Post Score


As shown in the tables, evidence to date indicates that our innovations have left the Clear Talk Program at least as effective in increasing speech intelligibility as it was with more traditional delivery of instruction.  Outcomes for the small group of 9 UCAR/NCAR students given the opportunity to replay portions of lessons, weekly one-on-one tutoring, two mid-course assessments to monitor progress and the revamped Clear Talk Five Muscle Tactics suggest that these features can have particular value in improving speech.

We will keep the innovations in place and continue to monitor their impact on learning.