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    The Premier AT Conference

Captions & Interactive Transcripts Improve Test Scores

This session will cover the results of a study conducted by the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg (USFSP) in collaboration with 3Play Media on the impact of closed captions and interactive transcripts on retention, comprehension, and test scores. This study was conducted through 7 full semester online courses across 3 colleges at USFSP – the College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, and College of Business. Students who opted in were randomly assigned to two groups – videos with closed captioning, and videos with closed captioning and interactive transcripts. To put the results in context, let’s begin with some of the qualitative feedback from students. The themes here emphasize the broad range of benefits that students see from using either closed captions or interactive transcripts beyond the quantitative impact we’ll see later. Students noted: “I am a visual person, so having the text there helped me memorize better the material. Also when taking notes, it was extremely helpful.” “I can focus better when I read what is being said.” “I’m not exactly sure how to explain how it helps, but I know for certain that it does. I felt as though I was retaining information a lot more readily than just following a PowerPoint.” These qualitative results closely mimic the results of a national research study on closed captioning conducted by the Oregon State University (OSU) eCampus Research Unit in collaboration with 3Play Media in 2016. Students also noted some of the use cases for captioning beyond accessibility and comprehension: “The closed captioning helped me, since English is not my first language, to better comprehend the content of the class and follow the professor.” “Because the class uses technical law terms, the transcripts help grasp what the professor was talking about.” Again, this student feedback is nearly identical to the OSU research study on how and why students use captions for learning. Further, these statements pull in language the USFSP researchers used in their study design, although the terms were never presented to students (“retention,” “comprehension,” “focus”). The preliminary findings from this study are quite exciting. To gather quantitative results, the researchers compared the pre- and post-test scores for each research group. On average, they saw: - A 3% increase in scores for students in the closed captioning focus group - An 8% increase in scores for students in the interactive transcript focus group - 2/3 of students benefited from the interactive transcripts In certain courses, results were even more striking. In a course on early childhood literature, the captioning group saw a 6.5% increase in scores and the interactive transcript group saw a staggering 15% increase in scores. From pre- to post-test, the interactive transcript group improved from an average score of 73.15% to 87.96%, a letter grade and a half improvement. Another course with the highest participation, Intro to Blogging, saw similar results: a 6.25% increase in scores for the captioning group and a 15.83% increase in scores for the interactive transcript group. The findings from this study present valuable insight into the student experience of closed captioning and interactive transcripts. Further, the preliminary findings show a potentially significant impact on student retention, comprehension, and testing – particularly with the use of interactive transcripts – and could present compelling information for online course designers to incorporate accessibility features like these into more online courses.  
  • Higher Education
  • Information & Communications Technology
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
For a long time, we've assumed that captions and interactive transcripts improve learning - but now there's data to prove it. This session will dive into the latest quantitative research on how video accessibility improves learning outcomes.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Captions & Transcription
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Education
  • Information & Communications Technology (ICT)
  • Research


  • Lily Bond
    3Play Media

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