Switching on captions in educational videos can help children understand the topics better and improve their grades, a new study has found.
Robert Keith Collins, an assistant professor of American Indian studies in San Francisco State University, found that students' test scores and comprehension improved dramatically when captions were used while watching videos.
The tool is often utilised for students with learning disabilities, but Collins said his results show captions can be beneficial to all students.
Collins developed the idea while he was a member of a faculty learning committee focused on ways to make the classroom more accessible to all students.
During the first year of a two-year case study, he showed videos without captions to establish a baseline of student comprehension.
Once that baseline was established, he turned captions on and began to see improvements. Those improvements continued into the second year of the study.
"Not only were students talking about how much having the captions helped them as they took notes, their test scores went up," Collins said.
"During the baseline year, there were a lot of Cs. In the second years, they went from Cs, Ds and Fs to As, Bs and Cs. It was really significant improvement," he added.
That improvement didn't just manifest itself in grades. Class discussions also became livelier and more detailed, with students recalling specific information shown in the videos such as names of people and places.
"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," he added.
The results of the study were published in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal.