Student Uses and Perceptions of Closed Captions and Transcripts

By Katie Linder, PhD, Research Director
Oregon State University Ecampus
October 2016

To download full report in PDF format, please click this link.

Suggested citation:
Linder, K. (2016). Student uses and perceptions of closed captions and transcripts: Results from a national study. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

To what extent are students aware of the availability of video closed captions and transcripts in their courses?

Approximately 60% of the student respondents said they knew how to tell if a video has closed captioning as a feature; approximately 30% said that they sometimes know and approximately 15% said they did not know how to tell if a video has closed captioning as a feature.

Respondents were also asked how many videos in their courses had closed captioning or transcripts as an option. Comparatively, closed captions were more available than transcripts with almost 30% of respondents reporting that closed captions were available for “all,” “most,” or “many” videos. Almost an equal number (a combined 26.7%) said that closed captions were available for “just a few” or for “none” of the videos in their courses.

When asked about the availability of transcripts, only 12.2% of respondents reported that transcripts were available for “all,” “most,” or “many” videos. Almost 61% said that transcripts were available for “just a few” or for “none” of the videos in their courses.

In both cases, a relatively large number of respondents were unsure about the availability of these resources. Over one quarter were unsure about the availability of closed captions (27%) and almost one in five were not sure about the availability of transcripts (18.4%).

To what extent do various student populations use video closed captions and transcripts?

Respondents were asked how often they use closed captions and transcripts when they are available. Approximately 35% noted that they “always” or “often” use closed captions when they are available. In response to that same question, 26% said they never use them.

In the case of transcripts, approximately 19% noted that they “always” or “often” use transcripts when they are available; 55.5% said that they never use transcripts when they are available.

Why do students use video closed captions and transcripts?

Survey respondents were asked to check all of the options that apply to them from a pre-determined list regarding why they use closed captions and transcripts.

For closed captions, the most respondents said that they use closed captions to help them focus, to help them retain information, and to help them overcome poor audio quality of
videos. The smallest group of respondents use closed captions because of English being their second language.

Comparatively, respondents reported using closed captions more than transcripts in all categories. This may be, in part, because closed captions were reported as being more available. Twice as many respondents reported using closed captions than transcripts for help with focus. More than twice as many reported using closed captions than transcripts for watching videos in sound sensitive environments such as libraries.

How do students use video closed captions and transcripts to support their learning?

For both closed captions and transcripts, the majority of student respondents focused their qualitative comments on the helpfulness of each as a learning aid. Due to the large number of comments related to the use of closed captions and transcripts as a learning aid, these comments were further coded in to four additional sub-themes: (1) accuracy, (2) comprehension, (3) retention, and (4) engagement.

For closed captions, the highest number of comments (51.9%) was related to the use of closed captions to aid with comprehension. This category was also the highest for transcripts, with 45.6% stating that transcripts were helpful with comprehension of course material.

To what extent do various student populations perceive the use of video closed captions as potentially valuable to their learning?

Regarding the helpfulness of closed captions, sub-group analyses show that the percentage of respondents who stated that closed captions were either “very” or “extremely” helpful to them was higher for many sub-groups including (in ascending order) students with learning disabilities (60.6%), adult learners (62%), students who have difficulty with vision (64%), students who “always” or “often” have trouble maintaining focus (64.7%), first generation students (64.8%), students who have difficulty with visual representations (65.4%), Pell-eligible students (65.4%), students with other disabilities (65.4%), students registered with an Office of Disability Services (65.8%), ESL students (66%), students receiving academic accommodation (66.3%), and students who have difficulty with hearing (71.4%).

Regarding the helpfulness of transcripts, the percentage of respondents who stated that transcripts where either “very” or “extremely” helpful to them was higher for (in ascending order) students who “always” or “often” have trouble maintaining focus (30.7%), students with learning disabilities (32.8%), adult learners (34.7%), students registered with an Office of Disability Services (35%), students who have difficulty with hearing (35.4%), students who have difficulty with visual representations (36.2%), ESL students (36.8%), and students receiving academic accommodation (37%).

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