Captions improve learning: study

Monday, 14 October 2013 14:20pm

A case study conducted at San Francisco State University has found that student test scores and levels of comprehension improve when captions are turned on in university classrooms.

While captions are normally associated with providing access to videos for people who are Deaf or hearing impaired, there is growing evidence that they have literacy and learning benefits for everyone.

Robert Keith Collins, an assistant professor in American Indian studies, had the idea for the study while sitting on the Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology – Faculty Learning Committee. The two year study was started in 2007 when Collins used videos without captions, then tested students to establish a baseline for comprehension. Collins then turned captions on and began to see improvements.

"Not only were students talking about how much having the captions helped them as they took notes, their test scores went up," said Collins in a media release. "During the baseline year, there were a lot of C [grades]. In the second years, they went from Cs, Ds and Fs to As, Bs and Cs. It was really significant improvement."

According to Collins, captioned video content helps to combat the reduced focus students experience as a result of using mobile devices and the internet.

"We're living in an age where our students are so distracted by technology that they sometimes forget where they should focus their attention when engaged with technology or media," he said.  “Turning on captions seems to enable students to focus on specific information."

This case study is part of a growing body of research that links captions with improved learning outcomes. Using Captions to Reduce Barriers to Native American Student Success is published in the October 2013 edition of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal.

Our cap that! campaign runs in Term 3 of each year and seeks to make teachers aware of the benefits of captions for all students.


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