Talking in Exams Project Report: The Use of Speech Recognition in Examinations by Learners with Additional Support Needs

Paul Nisbet, Shirley Lawson

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The Talking in Exams project ran during the academic session August 2015 to June 2016. The project had five objectives:
1. Create guidance materials for getting started with speech recognition.
2. Build a community of practice where we can share what works and what doesn’t.
3. Provide Dragon licences to schools.
4. Support schools to trial speech recognition software.
5. Gather and publish case studies/reports.
The project aimed to investigate the use of Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition software for candidates with disabilities or additional support needs, for use in SQA assessments.
28 schools or services were provided with a single computer licence for Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional Version 13. CALL Scotland provided initial training on the software, support visits to schools, and guidance and advice via new pages on the CALL Scotland website. 20 schools subsequently identified 70 students to participate in the trials. Practitioners were asked to complete a student record for each learner, and feedback was received from 12 schools in respect of 39 of the 70 students.
A Round-Up Seminar was held on 2nd June 2016, when delegates heard from staff and students who had participated in the project. Teachers and students were excited about the potential of speech recognition software and students with additional support needs reported that they could produce work independently which more accurately reflected their cognitive level.
Practitioners advised that Dragon was helpful to improve spelling, address handwriting difficulties, improve independence and self-esteem. Students who achieved success with Dragon tended to have good oral abilities and clear speech.
Practitioners were asked whether they thought it was likely that students could use the software in an examination setting: teachers judged that use of Dragon in examinations was likely for 11 students; it was a possibility for 21 students (with more time, practice and support); and it was not likely for 5 students (no response for 2 students).
The results of the project suggest that Dragon is a viable option for many students with writing difficulties.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherCALL Scotland, University of Edinburgh
Commissioning bodyScottish Qualifications Authority
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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