"Of the students to whom we gave the software we didn’t have a single one who didn’t increase their GPA." Edward Beason Tennessee Technological University

How Tennessee Tech improved academic outcomes for students ‘at risk of failure’


Executive Summary

The disability services office at Tennessee Tech provide accommodations that can level the playing field for their students. In 2015, staff decided to implement Sonocent Audio Notetaker to help students with conditions such as dyslexia and ADHD take notes independently.

By implementing Sonocent Audio Notetaker, the University:

  • Ensured that students identified as ‘at risk of failure’ improved their grades and remained at the university
  • Enabled students to take notes without support and regain control over their studies
  • Removed the stress and anxiety experienced by students when attempting to write everything down in class

Challenges

Taking comprehensive notes in class is a challenge for any student. But for students with disabilities that affect writing, spelling, grammar and working memory it can be almost impossible.

Of the students who fit this profile at Tennessee Tech, many were so concerned with capturing classroom instruction, whether by typing or writing, that they weren’t able to think in any depth about what they were hearing.

The disability support services office at the university provided some of these students with volunteer note takers, who would accompany them to class and take their notes for them. But not every student was happy having someone else take notes for them. So how could they create note-taking independence and raise academic outcomes for all their students?


How Sonocent Audio Notetaker Helped

For an initial six-week pilot, the university assigned Audio Notetaker to the 25 students on campus identified as at most risk of failure.

Disability support staff provided short-and-simple training covering how to use the software to record classes, color-highlight significant parts of the audio and insert slides alongside. They also provided a quick introduction to the free Sonocent Recorder companion app for iOS and Android.

“Of the students to whom we gave the software we didn’t have a single one who didn’t increase their GPA.”

Edward Beason
Tennessee Technological University

The students’ loved the peace of mind of knowing that everything from their class was being captured for review. After class, they would revisit their Audio Notetaker project, listen again to the parts that they had highlighted and type summaries alongside the relevant audio and slides.

The results were nothing short of dramatic. Of the 25 students involved in the initial pilot, each one improved their grades and retained their place at college. Consequently, the college are now taking steps to roll the software out more widely.

“We had a student who had flunked the previous semester go to somewhere in the neighbourhood of a 3.0 average. He said that had it not been for the software, he wouldn’t still be at the college”

Edward Beason
Tennessee Technological University

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