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Study: Students Using English Language Learning Software Experienced Greater Gains in Proficiency

Community college students who used the app Voxy had more proficiency gains in the English language than their peers in the same group who used a different software.

That’s the findings of a new study conducted by American Institutes for Research (AIR).

The study, conducted at Miami Dade College, was created to analyze the impact of the Voxy app’s language learning software, which utilizes machine learning to personalize material and adapt online teaching for English language learners.

Dr. Katie NielsonDr. Katie Nielson

“This research provides much-needed analyses concerning the efficacy of language learning technology and gives us hope that, with the right tools and support, more ELLs can succeed in college and their careers,” said Dr. Katie Nielson, chief education officer of Voxy. “If Voxy can drive a 15 percent increase in language assessment scores in one college semester, imagine the impact it could have in four years.”

Because of the increase in English language learners in higher education, institutions often find it difficult to give effective, personalized teaching to this group of people, which could include refugees, immigrants or international students.

The number of international students attending a U.S. college increased from 1990 to 2014, and increased to almost 1.1 million students during the 2017-18 school year, the release said.

The study sampled 317 students enrolled in Miami Dade’s language labs. Ninety-eight percent identified as Latino and Spanish speakers and 93 percent received federal financial aid through Pell Grants.

Advances in instructional design and machine learning give online platforms the ability to provide more personalized and adaptive teaching to meet the wide range of needs for English language learners. As a result this allows higher education institutions to better respond to student needs to make sure they have the best chance of succeeding in their postsecondary education.

Through Voxy, faculty can find analytics and dashboards to help them understand an individual’s language progress and development.

“This study suggests that educational technologies that provide personalized support for English language learning, like Voxy, can improve student language proficiency outcomes for English language learners,” said Rebecca Bergey, one of the authors of the study and an AIR researcher in the Center for English Language Learners. “Learners with access to Voxy’s web- and mobile- platform learned significantly more English in 16 weeks than their peers in the comparison group.”

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