How Captions + Interactive Transcripts Help Students in Online Courses

99% of students report captions are helpful. They help students with spelling, note-taking, comprehension, and clarification. They also benefit faculty because they facilitate learning.

So what happens when you incorporate an interactive transcript?

Interactive transcripts offer students a new level of engagement. Instead of having to scroll through a video to find a point of interest, students can simply search for it.

At the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP), the Distance Learning Accessibility Committee set out to examine if interactive transcripts were more beneficial for students than closed captions.

In this webinar, Lyman Dukes III, Ph.D., Karla Morris, M.Ed., and Casey Frechette, Ph.D from USFSP, three of the lead researchers from the study, will dive into their findings.

This presentation will cover:

  • Data & results from the study
  • The value added for students in online courses
  • The value of interactive transcripts for students in online course
  • How captions & interactive transcripts help students without disabilities
  • The policy and processes surrounding captioning and interactive transcripts at USFSP
  • Takeaways from the study


Lyman Dukes III, Ph.D.
Professor | University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Karla Morris, M.Ed.
Manager of Instructional Design Services | University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Sofia Enamorado (Moderator)
3Play Media

Webinar Q&A: How Captions + Interactive Transcripts Help Students In Online Courses

Several studies have found that captions are beneficial to all students – with or without disabilities. They help students with spelling, note-taking, comprehension, and clarification.

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) Distance Learning Accessibility Committee wanted to find out if interactive transcripts were also beneficial for students, and if they were in fact more beneficial than closed captions.

Get a glimpse into the results with this brief Q&A.

I would be interested in any correlation between grades and viewing. Did the three students who never accessed the videos do well in the course?

LYMAN DUKES III: We have not drilled down on that data to that extent. We were surprised and troubled by the data that we got when we began to look at how much video students were actually viewing course by course. This has certainly given us pause and cause for reflection about the ways in which video should be offered to students in online courses in the future.

Karla mentioned the fact that some courses chunk the online video content in different ways, so full length lecture capture is one. It’s the one that was employed in this course. But other faculty have chosen other ways to present and deliver that information in shorter videos.

We certainly want to look at maybe differences in student performance and student satisfaction with the various types of videos that are offered, and really drill down to looking at actual data regarding how often students watch, because it probably won’t surprise anyone that student report and actual student behavior may well be different. So yes, we don’t know how those three did. But that particular piece of our data set really stood out to us.

Can you elaborate how you’re using these findings to change your approach or how you’re approaching faculty?

KARLA MORRIS: I can speak to it from the perspective of our instructional designers. Our original study, when we looked at the closed captioning, that was what really affected the ability for us to get a budget for captioning and a policy and a guideline here on our campus. Looking at what we’ve done so far with interactive transcript, we really don’t feel that we’ve had enough data to show that we want to make the shift to also adding interactive transcript as a required part of our transcribing and captioning process.

At this point, we’re still just closed captioning all of our media, and we will continue to look with this committee at the data that comes out of further studies with interactive transcripts, because there is significant manpower involved in making that an additional piece to add to all of the media in our courses.

Were there certain subjects that students found most helpful to have these interactive transcripts in?

LYMAN DUKES III: In this particular case, we looked at a fully online upper division psychology course. One of the goals that we have in the near term is to look at the use of the interactive transcript in courses other than this psychology course.

I think it’s worth reinforcing that in terms of student report in the current study, the vast majority of them certainly indicated that they found the interactive transcript of benefit. We also were able to demonstrate with this set of students that we saw improvement in grades.

I don’t know if we’ve gathered this information, but I know in the captioning study that was done a few years back, we actually looked at student satisfaction with the course overall. In other words, the evaluation of faculty that were teaching the course in which we did the captioning study. With almost every question that students were asked with respect to faculty evaluation, faculty were rated more highly in the course in which captioning was used versus the course in which captioning was not used. That stood out, and I thought it was an interesting finding. However, we did not do that with the interactive transcript study that we recently completed.

What were the most alarming, and what were the most surprising aspects of the study for you both?

KARLA MORRIS: Alarming, personally, was the students who didn’t watch any video. I think in some ways, we got what we predicted we would get – that students found interactive transcripts helpful. I think what is surprising is that maybe there’s not as much of a significant difference between the two groups to prove whether or not it’s that much more beneficial. I think that we’ll be able to pull that out more with a larger group in a future study. So just keep moving forward is really what we’ve taken from this.

LYMAN DUKES III: As a sort of a special education expert, it was interesting to me to learn that the data that we saw when we asked students about whether or not they had a disability and whether or not they were actually registered with our campus Student Disability Services office in this interactive transcript study and the captioning study was consistent with national data that indicate that approximately 2/3 of students with disabilities leave high school, enter a post-secondary institution, and do not self-disclose.

As a function of that, we have many students with disabilities sitting in college courses, who will benefit from these types of academic approaches – these instructional approaches, and these tools and methods that we’ve talked about. Having also served in an administrative role on my campus, I know how important it is to administrators that we focus upon student engagement at this point in our professional world and our academic milieu, if you will.

This really is a critical way to ensure that students with disabilities, but also, other students have tools available to them that will allow them to have the best chance of success in the courses that they’re taking.