Practice Makes Perfect? The Pedagogic Value of Online Independent Phonetic Transcription Practice for Speech and Language Therapy Students

Jill Titterington, Sally Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Accuracy of phonetic transcription is a core skill for speech and language therapists (SLTs) worldwide (Howard & Heselwood, 2002). The current study investigates the value of weekly independent online phonetic transcription tasks to support development of this skill in year one SLT students. Using a mixed methods observational design, students enrolled in a year one phonetics module completed ten weekly homework activities in phonetic transcription on a stand-alone tutorial site (WebFon (Bates, Matthews & Eagles, 2010)) and five weekly online quizzes (the ‘Ulster Set’ (Titterington, unpublished)). Student engagement with WebFon was measured in terms of the number of responses made to ‘sparks’ on the University’s Virtual Learning Environment Discussion Board. Measures of phonetic transcription accuracy were obtained for the ‘Ulster Set’ and for a stand-alone piece of coursework at the end of the module. Qualitative feedback about experience with the online learning was gathered via questionnaire. A positive significant association was found between student engagement with WebFon and performance in the ‘Ulster Set’, and between performance in the ‘Ulster Set’ and final coursework. Students valued both online independent learning resources as each supported different learning needs. However, student compliance with WebFon was significantly lower than with the ‘Ulster Set’. Motivators and inhibitors to engagement with the online resources were investigated identifying what best maximised engagement. These results indicate that while ‘independent’ online learning can support development of phonetic transcription skills, the activities must be carefully managed and constructively aligned to assessment providing the level of valance necessary to ensure effective engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalClinical Linguistics & Phonetics
Early online date31 Aug 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Aug 2017



  • phonetic transcription
  • speech
  • phonetics
  • online resources
  • independent study

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