Throughout the course, I've been collecting data from students about their experiences with literature "by ear."
I've started to analyze their responses; in this post I'll be sharing a few interesting patterns, and some tentative conclusions.
First, I was surprised to find that 85% of students report accessing the audio files from their home computers, and 15% access materials at a campus computer lab or library. None of the 40 students who took the survey reported listening to course podcasts while mobile! While this contradicts my expectation that students would enjoy the mobility that audio allows, it seems to show that they are choosing experience the audio in less distracting surroundings. (More to come in future posts on the role of distraction in reading and listening.)
Second finding: When given the option of reading only, listening only, or both reading and listening, students are more likely to do both.
Third finding: As they had predicted at the start of the course, students find listening to audio more time consuming and more difficult that reading text, but also more enjoyable.
Compare their mid-semester responses:
...to their predictions from the beginning of the semester:
Taken together, these results could suggest that the use of audio in this course design has encouraged students to take more time with the texts, rather than less, while also increasing their enjoyment of this labor.
As one student reported, "I will find it more enjoyable while potentially more time consuming as I won't be able to 'skim' through passages." This made we wonder if audio--rather than moving too quickly, as I'd feared--actually slows down the process of reading for students habituated to skimming, and therefore--far from preventing close redaing--in fact facilitates it.