Researching the Effectiveness of the SSEP Online Course

The ongoing development of the Online Course

The first version of the online course became available online in 2014. It consisted of three modules: a “Theoretical module” – teaching students[1] about the nature of stammering; and two practical modules – one teaching a block modification technique called “The Jump”; and the other teaching a fluency shaping technique called “Orchestral Speech”.

Feedback received in subsequent years made it clear that this original format of the online course was not appropriate for the majority of individuals accessing it, and that many of these individuals would benefit more from an approach with a stronger psychotherapeutic bias. So, in 2019 we set about expanding the online course by adding a “Mindfulness and Cognitive Therapy” module and substantially increasing the amount of information about the nature of stammering in the Theoretical module – which we renamed the “Understanding Stammering” module. we also provided three different sets of instructions for students to follow while working their way through the online course, so that the order in which they worked through the modules reflected their differing needs and priorities – depending on whether their stammering was characterised by (1) severe overt, (2) mild overt, or (3) covert symptoms.

The present format of the Online Course incorporates these changes.

Our current protocol for eliciting feedback from students

Since the major restructuring of the online course in 2019-2020, our protocol for monitoring students’ progress has been as follows…

  • On the first page of the online course website, after the introductory video entitled “5 key understandings about stammering that will help you gain control over it”, potential students are invited to complete an online questionnaire providing basic details about their stammering history (including age of onset, other family members who stammer, therapies received, experiences of remission and relapse, etc.). Students take an average of 9 minutes 40 seconds to complete this questionnaire.
  • Students who complete and submit this questionnaire are sent (the following day) an email requesting them to complete an online version of the “OASES” Overall Assessment of the Speaker’s Experience of Stuttering self-assessment[2]. Students take an average of 23 minutes 30 seconds to complete this questionnaire.
  • Students are also provided with an open invitation to email the SSEP at any time should they run into difficulties while working through the course or if they have any course-related questions.
  • After 6 months, those who completed the initial OASES questionnaire are then sent a further email in which they are asked to complete our “Online Course Feedback Questionnaire” (outlining their experiences working through the various modules of the online course) and also a second OASES questionnaire.
  • Students are then sent further emails at 12 and 24 months asking them to complete further OASES questionnaires.

[1] I use the term “Students” to describe people who take the online course because the course is essentially educational. Although the majority of students are people who stammer, some speech therapists and student speech therapists have also taken the course.

[2] Yaruss & Quesal (2016) OASES: Overall Assessment of the Speaker’s Experience of Stuttering. Stuttering Therapy Resources, Inc.

Responses to our feedback requests

From people who first contacted us between November 2020 and May 2023

  • 224 people completed our “Before starting the online course” questionnaire between November 2020 and May 2023.
  • 174 of these people we never heard from again.
  • 50 responded to our requests for feedback after 6 months.
    • 16 simply responded to say that they had not started the online course after all.
    • 34 students confirmed that they had completed at least one module of the online course

Status of the 224 people who completed the “Before starting the Online Course” questionnaire between November 2020 and May 2023

OASES questionnaire responses from Students

When people first contact us (via the “Questionnare to complete before starting the online course”) we immediately request them to complete an OASES questionnaire. We then ask them to complete further OASES questionnaires 6, 12, and 24 months later.

The data from these OASES questionnaires is particularly valuable as it enables us to quantify the severity of a person’s stammering (along a series of dimensions) and to quantify changes in stammering severity that have occurred at each re-test.

Between November 2020 and November 2023

  • 31 students completed an OASES questionnaire before starting the online course.
  • 8 of these students also completed a second OASES questionnaire (after a minimum of 6 months.
  • So far, 2 of these students have also completed a third OASES questionnaire. (after a minimum of 12 months.

Click here for detailed OASES data from the 8 students who have provided ongoing feedback


In the feedback that we received from people who initially signed up but then never completed any of the modules, the reasons given for not persevering with the course were…

  • Lack of time.
  • Simply forgot about it.
  • Too academic/complicated.
  • Lack of opportunities to interact with other students.


174 (i.e., 78%) of the 224 people who completed the initial questionnaire prior to starting the online course never responded to any of our requests for further information. We do not know the reasons why they did not respond. Because the SSEP website does not require people to “log in” and does not collect information on people accessing the site, we do not know how many of these 224 people actually tried to engage with the course, and how many of them actually benefitted from the course.

Evidence of Effectiveness of the Online Course (November 2020 – November 2023)

Evidence of the effectiveness of the online course was gleaned from three sources…

Outcomes Research