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On-screen print: The role of captions as a supplemental literacy tool


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Children living in poverty are 1.3 times as likely as non-poor children to experience reading difficulties and lack key oral experiences that contribute to early literacy development. The purpose of this research was to study the effects of viewing commercially available educational television with closed captions. Seventy second- and third-grade economically disadvantaged children living in urban locations participated in this experimental research design. Children were randomly assigned to view videos with or without closed captions. Captions helped children recognise and read more words, identify the meaning of those words, generate inferences regarding programme content and transfer these skills to a normative code-related skill task. Risk status moderated word recognition performance: those at risk benefited from captions while those who were not at risk recognised more words when captions were absent.
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On-screen print: the role of captions as
a supplemental literacy tool
Deborah Linebarger and Jessica Taylor Piotrowski
Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,
Charles R. Greenwood
Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas, USA
Children living in poverty are 1.3 times as likely as non-poor children to experience
reading difficulties and lack key oral experiences that contribute to early literacy
development. The purpose of this research was to study the effects of viewing
commercially available educational television with closed captions. Seventy second-
and third-grade economically disadvantaged children living in urban locations
participated in this experimental research design. Children were randomly assigned
to view videos with or without closed captions. Captions helped children recognise
and read more words, identify the meaning of those words, generate inferences
regarding programme content and transfer these skills to a normative code-related
skill task. Risk status moderated word recognition performance: those at risk
benefited from captions while those who were not at risk recognised more words
when captions were absent.
The majority of children identified with learning disabilities have difficulties learning to
read (Snow et al., 1998). At the fourth grade level, a higher percentage of Asian/Pacific
Islander (i.e. 42%) and European American students (i.e. 41%) scored at or above
Proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading assessment when
compared with their American Indian/Alaska Native (i.e. 18%), Hispanic (i.e. 16%) and
African American (i.e. 13%) peers (Lee, Grigg & Donahue, 2007). Moreover, children
living in poverty are 1.3 times as likely as non-poor children to experience learning
disabilities and developmental delays (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997). Poor children
often have multiple risk factors that contribute to reading difficulties, most importantly,
lack of appropriate home literacy experiences (i.e. opportunities for verbal interactions,
storytelling and early book reading; Feitelson & Goldstein, 1986; Harris & Smith, 1987;
Snow et al., 1998). In addition, children who come from non-English-speaking homes
often with limited English proficiency are also at a disadvantage in learning to read
English. Both children who are poor and children who are English language learners may
also have poorly educated parents, little income, live in neighbourhoods where most
families share similar characteristics and attend schools where the student body is
Journal of Research in Reading, ISSN 0141-0423 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9817.2009.01407.x
Volume 33, Issue 2, 2010, pp 148–167
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Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA
Journal of
Research in Reading
Journal of
Research in Reading
predominantly low achieving (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; Snow et al., 1998), placing
them at greater risk for later reading difficulties. By virtue of these characteristics, poor
children and children with limited English proficiency are more likely to experience
reading failure and to be identified to receive special education services.
While it has been well documented that poor families lack educational resources at
home (e.g. books and stimulating toys and materials; Zill, Moore, Smith, Stief & Coiro,
1995), over 98% of US homes have televisions (Statistical Abstracts, 2007) and 92% of
these homes also have video cassette recorders or DVD players (Statistical Abstracts,
2007). Children whose parents have less than or equivalent to a high school diploma
watch significantly more television than children whose parents have some college
(Roberts, Foehr & Rideout, 2005), spend less time with print materials than children in
families where parents have more education (i.e. 36 vs 45 minutes) and perform better on
early literacy tasks when they have a television in their bedroom (Linebarger &
Wainwright, 2007). Given the extensive availability of this resource, one must ask how
can it be harnessed to increase the number of home literacy experiences and, thereby,
at-risk children’s literacy outcomes?
Models of learning from television
Dual coding theory. Media stimuli are complementary, and, as such, the multiple
modalities used in presenting these stimuli strengthen children’s encoding and subsequent
storage and retrieval of specific media content (Linebarger, 2001; Mayer & Anderson,
1991; Najjar, 1995; Neuman, 1995; Paivio & Csapo, 1973). When duplicative
information is simultaneously presented via two modalities (i.e. audio and visual
content), it can enhance young children’s understanding of programme content by serving
to increase the number of cognitive paths that can be followed to retrieve the information
(Najjar, 1995; Paivio, 1975), leading to increased learning (e.g. Linebarger, Kosanic,
Greenwood & Doku, 2004; Neuman, 1995). However, if information across modalities is
dissimilar, then young children will engage in one of two behaviours: (1) switch between
the two streams of information with subsequent reductions in acquisition of content in
both modalities; or (2) choose one modality at the expense of the other. When programme
content across modalities is dissimilar, young children tend to default to (i.e. recall more
content) the visual channel of information at the expense of the auditory track, leading
researchers to argue that young children privilege the visual domain (i.e. the visual
superiority effect; Nelson, Reed & Walling, 1976; Paivio, Rogers & Smythe, 1968;
Whitehouse, Maybery & Durkin, 2006). Without a formal content analysis, it is difficult
to say exactly how much educational television content across audio and visual tracks is
redundant. However, studies suggest that young children do not suffer comprehension
decrements when content is presented both aurally and visually.
Travelling lens theory. As with print media, acquiring information from television is
a complex process that involves both attention to and comprehension of programme
stimuli. When interacting with televised stimuli, children must attend to important
or interesting aspects of programme content as well as integrate this content into
meaningful, comprehensible bits of information (Huston & Wright, 1989). Children
develop cognitive skills to process information in one medium (e.g. television) and
are able to use these skills when processing content found in other media forms
(e.g. books; Linebarger, 2006; Neuman, 1995). Recently, researchers (e.g. Kendeou
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et al., 2005; Linebarger & Piotrowski, 2009) have begun to examine how skills
developed in one medium transfer to and support processing in other media. For
example, research has shown that comprehension of televised stories at age 6 predicts
comprehension of print stories at age 8 (Kendeou et al., 2005). Similarly, television
narratives have been found to support the development of preschoolers’ story skills
and subsequently aid in picture-book comprehension (Linebarger & Piotrowski, 2009).
Anderson and his colleagues (e.g. Anderson & Lorch, 1983; Anderson, Lorch, Field &
Sanders, 1981) conducted a series of studies to understand how young children’s attention
is elicited during television viewing. The work resulted in a model of attention in which
comprehension of the televised messages drives further attention. Huston and Wright
(Huston & Wright, 1989; Rice, Huston & Wright, 1982) elaborated this model of
attention, arguing that a child’s attentional decisions when viewing a television
programme are a function of stimulus features (i.e. formal features such as sounds and
unusual visual effects; Calvert, Huston & Wright, 1987; Campbell, Wright & Huston,
1987); comprehensibility of the content; and viewer disposition (Huston and Wright
labelled the model the ‘travelling lens’). The model predicts that stimuli perceived as
‘moderately novel, of intermediate complexity, integratable, somewhat regular, partially
ordered, and recognizable’ (Huston & Wright, 1989, p. 117) should elicit the greatest
amounts of interest and attention. Similarly, familiarity and habituation as well as
perceived incomprehensibility should lead to low interest and attention. With age and
viewing experience, children will continually move towards more cognitively challenging
television stimuli. Thus, those stimuli that were once considered incomprehensible will
eventually move into the child’s ‘focal lens of maximum interest . . . before they are
habituated and become old hat’ (Huston & Wright, 1989, p. 118).
Application to literacy
Dual coding theory and the ‘travelling lens’ model predict that children with few print
experiences and poor reading skills may find on-screen print overly challenging and thus
not attend to it, whereas fluent readers may ignore on-screen print because they have
habituated to it (Linebarger et al., 2004). Although it is possible that through repetition
poor readers will gain enough familiarity with on-screen print to benefit from such
exposure (i.e. the combination of print and television provides an opportunity for media
synergy to occur), initially such benefits are unlikely. Similarly, fluent readers are
unlikely to experience much benefit from on-screen print as they are already progressing
on a positive literacy trajectory. It is the group in the middle, emerging readers who are
not yet fluent, who should evidence the greatest literacy gains from exposure to on-screen
print because the content will be perceived as both interesting and cognitively
challenging and thus within their ‘travelling lens’ (Huston & Wright, 1989; Linebarger
et al., 2004). There is preliminary evidence supporting these predictions; emerging
readers were found to benefit the most from on-screen print when compared with both
poor readers and fluent readers (Linebarger et al., 2004).
On-screen print
Televised on-screen print can take different forms including: (1) print placed on-screen as
part of a curriculum strategy in educational television (e.g. Between the Lions); (2)
captions; and (3) subtitling. Captioning and subtitling are superficially similar in that both
add words to a picture. Captions are intended for deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers, are
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usually broadcast in closed form (i.e. to see the captions, a viewer needs to activate the closed
caption option found in the television menu) and match the language featured in the audio.
Captions are usually placed in different areas ofthescreentoreectthepositionofthespeaker
and they use symbols that indicate the presence of sound effects (e.g. ). Subtitles are meant
for hearing viewers; are usually positioned in the bottom centre of the screen; are ‘open’
(always visible to all viewers); ignore sound effects; and are a translation of the audio using a
different language. Although the two terms are used interchangeably intheUnitedKingdom,
the present study, conducted in the United States, is based on captions as defined above.
Impact of captions on word recognition abilities
When visible on-screen, captions provide an opportunity for children to read while they
view their favourite programmes. While viewing, children see words combined with
visual information and hear accompanying audio content that can help them match the
printed word form to its on-screen aural and visual referent. Koskinen and her
colleagues (Koskinen, Bowen, Gambrell, Jensema & Kane, 1997; Koskinen, Wilson,
Gambrell & Jensema, 1986; Neuman & Koskinen, 1992) proposed that adding captions
to programmes children already watch may subtly influence children’s knowledge and
understanding of print. In a longitudinal study of continuous caption use in the home,
children who viewed with captions scored significantly higher on normative tests of
word identification and passage comprehension when compared with non-caption
viewers (Koskinen et al., 1997). Linebarger (2001), using carefully controlled scripts
written at a reading level below the average child in the study (i.e. first-grade level),
found that second-grade children who viewed short clips with verbatim captions read
words found in the scripts more accurately when compared with children who viewed
the same clips without captions. In that study, the verbal narration was slower than
verbal narration typically found in commercial educational programming (i.e. 90 words
per minute [wpm] compared with a more typical 122 wpm in commercial educational
programming; Jensema, McCann & Ramsey, 1996). A number of other studies
examined whether educational television that uses on-screen print as part of a larger
curricular strategy (e.g. Between the Lions; not captions) could help children develop
literacy skills. In these studies, literacy skills’ improvements were found for children in
preschool through third grade (Linebarger et al., 2004; Linebarger & Wainwright, 2007;
Prince, Grace, Linebarger, Atkinson & Huffman, 2002; Uchikoshi, 2006). These studies
suggest that educational programmes with captions will support children’s recognition
of words used in these programmes.
Impact of closed captions on comprehension abilities
To comprehend televised texts effectively, children need to allocate a portion of their
cognitive capacity to actively distinguish, review and, in some cases, construct the
organising features (Baker & Brown, 1984). Shea (2000) argued that presenting content
via two modalities (i.e. aural and visual) helps children comprehend that content. Adding
a third modality (i.e. print), if it reinforces content found in the first two domains, has the
potential to further enhance comprehension. Alternatively, this additional content may
overwhelm children’s cognitive capacities, resulting in comprehension decrements.
Whether the third modality enhances or overwhelms cognitive processing depends on the
viewer, the viewer’s current skill set (e.g. can the viewer read and decode words?) and
general cognitive capacity available to simultaneously process this third stream of stimuli
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as well as the nature of the tasks to be completed after viewing. Moreover, programme
comprehension requires that children retain relevant programme content (e.g. plot,
setting, characters, actions, goals) across programme segments, a skill significantly more
challenging than matching print with aural and visual stimuli.
In earlier research, the presence of on-screen print was associated with reductions in
young children’s comprehension of the televised content (Linebarger, 2001).
Identifying literal story elements involves summarising crucial story events as they
occurred in a televised text (i.e. when ‘X’ happened, what happened next) while
distinguishing inferential story elements involves identifying the organising features or
main idea of the story. Both types of comprehension are challenging for young children
in traditional contexts (i.e. book reading). Inferential identification usually appears in
the upper elementary grades (Baker & Brown, 1984; Ezell, Kohler, Jarzynka & Strain,
1992). Linebarger (2001) hypothesised that, because children were still struggling with
the mechanics of reading (i.e. they were beginning readers), the on-screen print
demanded and captured their attention, causing them to shift back and forth between the
storyline and the captioned text. Only one task could be done efficiently at a time
leaving children with fewer cognitive resources available to process the meaning of the
text both at a literal and an inferential level. Evidence that comprehension improves in
the presence of closed captions exists for children who are proficient readers (Griffin &
Dumestre, 1993). The research evidence suggests that children who view educational
television without captions will outperform their caption-viewing peers on comprehen-
sion tasks.
Impact of captions on phonological and phonemic awareness
Code-related literacy skills (i.e. phonological awareness, phonemic awareness) have been
linked to vocabulary size, narrative skill and print knowledge both in print contexts
(Dickinson, McCabe, Anastasopoulos, Peisner-Feinberg & Poe, 2003) and televised
contexts (Linebarger & Piotrowski, 2006). The relationship between code-related literacy
skills and vocabulary is derived from the development of children’s phonemic awareness.
That is, as children add more word forms to their lexicon, greater sensitivity to the subtle
phonemic variations in word forms (e.g. map vs mop) and how these variations are related
to different semantic representations is needed (Ouellette, 2006). As such, code-related
skills can be enhanced indirectly via contributions to general vocabulary knowledge.
Captions also directly impact code skills by providing the child with the opportunity to see
the printed form of a word, hear the aural representation and contextualise the meaning of
the word based on its televised representation (Sadoski & Paivio, 2001). These effects
should be strengthened with increased exposure. Furthermore, children who most benefit
tend to be those with various risk factors and, subsequently, difficulty acquiring literacy
skills (Anderson, Huston, Schmitt, Linebarger & Wright, 2001; Kulik & Kulik, 1991;
Linebarger et al., 2004). Thus, viewing educational television with captions should support
children’s phonological and phonemic awareness skills.
In summary, viewing television programmes with on-screen captions offers a
supplemental literacy tool that is both feasible and scalable. There is limited research
on the use of captions with beginning readers, particularly using commercially available
educational programming. The Linebarger (2001) study used carefully developed scripts
written at a first-grade level with more difficult words inserted. The current study
represents an important contribution to the literature, combining commercially available
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educational television and on-screen print especially as it relates to two under-served
populations: economically disadvantaged African American children and economically
disadvantaged Hispanic children who spoke Spanish as a first language (i.e. English
language learners). Acquisition of programme-specific vocabulary, improvements in
programme-specific comprehension and generalising these improvements to normative
measures of word recognition and phonemic awareness were tested. A child’s initial
reading ability was also tested to determine whether initial ability, used as an indicator of
risk status, moderated any of these results.
Seventy second- and third-grade children attending four Title 1 public schools in two
large Midwestern cities in the United States whose participation was approved by their
parents were included. Forty-two were girls (M57.5 years) and 28 were boys (M57.8
years). Eighty-two per cent of the families reported incomes below US$30,000; 57%
were reading below a first-grade level and 79% of the children were reading below a
second-grade level as measured by their oral reading rates (M524.4 wpm; Oral Reading
Fluency Task; Good, Simmons, Kame’enui, Kaminski & Wallin, 2002); and five of the
children had an identified reading or learning disability as reported by their parents.
Children were recruited from a population of economically disadvantaged families. Fifty-
six per cent were African American children who spoke English as their first language
and 44% were Hispanic children learning English as a second language (i.e. English
language learners).
Design and intervention conditions
To address the hypotheses, an experimental design was used (Shadish, Cook & Campbell,
2001). Children were randomised into one of two conditions: intervention (n535) versus
control (n535). In the intervention group, children watched six videos with captions.
The control group watched the same set of six videos (in the same order) without
captions. See Table 1 for descriptive information by condition.
For those in the intervention condition, the on-screen closed captions were the original
captions created for each video by professional captioning agencies using parameters
established by the Media Access Group at WGBH (i.e. the Boston, Massachusetts public
television station) and the Federal Communication Commission (1999). These
parameters resulted in near-verbatim captions with a maximum presentation rate of
120–130 wpm.
When captions were edited to reduce the presentation rate, substitute
words or phrases were not more complicated than the original wording. With these
guidelines, captions for children’s programmes match the spoken narration or dialogue
about 84% of the time. We purposely used the original, commercially created captions to
examine whether commercially available captions could have the same impact as
carefully designed, researcher-derived captions could (e.g. Linebarger, 2001).
Setting and apparatus
Video episodes were presented to children using a 1300 TV/VCR combination unit. Children
were seated in groups of two to three, approximately 1–2 feet away from the screen and the
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experimenter sat to the right and slightly behind the children. The viewing took place in
empty classrooms during the after-school programme hours at each of the schools.
Six 30-minute programmes airing during spring 1999 on the public broadcasting service
were chosen as stimuli. Curriculum documents and promotional materials developed by
each of the programmes indicated that these programmes had been designed for children
in our age group (i.e. second- and third-grade children). Programmes were viewed in the
following order: Arthur & Friends,Magic School Bus,Reading Rainbow,Wishbone,
Zoom and KrattsCreatures.
After parental consent was received, all children were pre-tested using the re-
searcher-developed and standardised instruments described below. Once completed, all
children began viewing stimuli associated with their assigned condition (i.e. with or
without captions) in small groups of two to three children. After viewing each video, all
Table 1. Demographic characteristics, frequency of reading and writing, and pre-test standardised reading
scores across all children and within group.
All No captions Captions F(1, 69) or
Child’s age (in years) (SDs) 7.63 7.57 (0.79) 7.70 (1.02) .38
Race/ethnicity w
African American 39 20 19
31 15 16
Gender w
Male 28 14 14
Female 42 21 21
Risk status w
At risk 14 6 8
Moderately at risk 26 13 13
Not at risk 30 16 14
Maternal education (SDs) 11.50 (2.14) 11.51 (1.72) 11.49 (2.52) .00
Child’s reading/writing frequency (%) .52
Rarely 31.4 25.7 37.1
Sometimes 31.5 37.2 25.8
Frequently 17.2 17.2 17.2
Daily 19.9 19.9 19.9
Normative pre-test literacy scores
Dolch words (SDs) 169.80 (46.49) 169.13 (48.76) 170.47 (44.80) .01
Decontextualised target words (SDs) 33.50 (30.02) 36.97 (31.36) 30.03 (28.64) .94
Oral reading fluency (SDs) 48.27 (32.72) 47.97 (35.01) 48.57 (30.76) .01
Nonsense word fluency (SDs) 53.55 (30.04) 57.06 (31.65) 50.04 (28.35) .96
Notes: Ranges for each variable: age 56–10 years; maternal education in years 57–16 years. Book reading and
writing frequency: rarely 5never to once a month; sometimes 5two times per month to once a week;
frequently 5three to four times per week; daily. Dolch words (out of 220) 59–219. Decontextualised target
words (out of 120) 50–112. Oral reading fluency 54–155 words per minute. Nonsense word fluency pre-test
score 58–141 letter–sounds per minute.
The chi-square tests and all F-tests were non-significant.
All children of Hispanic origin spoke Spanish as their first language and were categorised as English language
learners by their schools.
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children’s video-specific knowledge was tested, one-on-one, via a series of brief, video-
specific indices including: (1) word recognition of target words (i.e. words featured in the
video using criteria described below); (2) definition of target words; (3) one literal
comprehension question that required the child to identify the climax of the video; and
(4) one inferential comprehension question that required the child to describe the main
idea of the video. After all episodes were viewed, all children were again tested using the
original set of measures (or an alternate form, where available). All viewing and testing
sessions took place during the children’s after-school child care programme housed at
each of the schools involved (n54 schools).
The measurement strategy selected was based on several considerations including the
collection of information to describe the participants, sensitivity to immediate effects of
the intervention, the ability to detect change using standardised measures and robustness
to implementation quality.
Parent demographic and media access/use questionnaire. Parents were asked to provide
both demographic and media access/use information about their families and children.
Data used in these analyses included birth dates, gender, family size, income, ethnicity/
race, primary language in the home, whether or not the target child had an identified
disability, children’s use of media (i.e. computers, TV, print) in the home and the number
of books the child had available to him/her.
Video-specific literacy measures
Word recognition. All children were asked to read five words used in each video after
viewing the video. These words (i.e. target words) were selected based on the following
criteria. Each word needed to be: (1) a ‘content’ word (i.e. important to the video story
and not an incidental word like ‘because’, ‘through’ or ‘actually’); (2) repeated at least
four or five times in the video; (3) explained in the video either through a verbal
definition/description, through a visual demonstration or both (e.g. ‘humpback’ was
presented and defined by a scientist through a voice-over while viewers saw a swimming
and leaping humpback whale); and (4) at a second- to fourth-grade level. In our initial
selection of words, we used a book for authors to determine at what grade and in what
aspect of the curriculum a word was introduced (Mogilner, 1992). However, on closer
examination using another basic vocabulary text (i.e. the EDL Core Vocabularies in
Reading, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies; Taylor et al., 1989), we determined
that our selected target words actually ranged in difficulty between first and seventh
grade. Because of the range of word grade levels, we weighted the words in the analyses
based on grade (e.g. Grade 2 word scores multiplied by 2, Grade 3 word scores multiplied
by 3 and Grade 4 word scores multiplied by 4). Project staff scored children’s
pronunciation of words for fluency (i.e. target word recognition; 4-point scale:
05inaccurate;15read with difficulty;25sounded out;35fluent; read with no
difficulty). Examiners were trained and practised until inter-examiner agreement on
fluency scores equalled 90% or higher.
Comprehension. Three different measures of video-specific comprehension were
administered to all children: target word comprehension, literal comprehension and
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inferential comprehension. Given the number of videos each child needed to see, the
number of children involved in the study and the limited amount of time each child was
available to participate in this study, the comprehension questions needed to be brief.
After completing the word recognition task described above, children were asked to
provide a definition for each of the words (i.e. target word comprehension). In the event
that the child was unable to read the target word fluently, a clear pronunciation of the
word was provided before asking for the definition. Literal comprehension involved
identifying a critical or main story event that was visually and/or verbally described (e.g.
when x happened what happened next) while inferential comprehension required the
children to give the main idea of the programme.
Comprehension questions and definitions were both scored using a 3-point scale
(0 5no response;15partially correct answer;25accurate and complete answer). Two
independent raters scored 11% of the definitions. Krippendorff’s as (Hayes &
Krippendorff, 2007) were acceptable for target word comprehension ( 5.95), literal
comprehension ( 5.91) and inferential comprehension ( 5.86).
Normative literacy measures
Normative literacy measures were administered at both the pre-test and the post-test to all
General word recognition. First, children were asked to read a list containing 220 high-
frequency words (i.e. Dolch words) compiled by E. W. Dolch (1948). This list comprises
50–75% of the reading material encountered by American students, especially in
Kindergarten through third grade (Frey, Kress & Fountoukidis, 2000; May, 1998). We
included this list of words because all words except ‘upon’ were found multiple times
across the video stimuli. Next, children were asked to read a decontextualised target word
list that contained all 30 target words (i.e. five words from each of the six videos that
were selected based on the four considerations detailed above). As with the target word
video-specific assessments, children’s ability to read each word fluently was examined
(i.e. 4-point scale: 0 5inaccurate;15read with difficulty;25sounded out;35fluent;
read with no difficulty).
Normative code-related literacy skills. Two of five individually administered and timed
subtests from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (Good & Kaminski,
2002; Kaminski & Good, 1996) were used to measure children’s phonemic awareness
and fluency skills. Children were given a set of instructions, a practice item and then
asked to do as many of the particular subtest as they could for 1 minute. Each subtest had
20 equivalent forms available. Nonsense word fluency (NWF) consisted of made-up
words that follow the rules of English syllable structures and the alphabetic principle. In
every language there are restrictions about the patterning of phonemes (or sound
combinations) in words. Children were given a sheet of paper with nonsense words
printed across the page and were instructed to read each word or say as many of the
sounds as they could in 1 minute. The examiner gave credit for any correctly said sounds.
For example, a child would see ‘rij’ and say ‘/r/ /i/ /j/’ and receive 3 points or say ‘/r/’ and
receive 1 point. Oral reading fluency (ORF) consisted of children reading passages that
measure the child’s skill at recognising and reading words rapidly and accurately.
Interviewers recorded the number of words read accurately in 1 minute to determine the
child’s oral reading rate.
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Assignment to risk status
We used initial reading ability, identified by scores on the pre-test NWF assessment
(discussed above), as a marker of the child’s reading risk status. This score was used to
form three categories: at risk for poor reading outcomes in fourth grade, moderately at
risk and not at risk for reading difficulties in fourth grade using national benchmarks
empirically established by the creators of the measure (Good et al., 2002). Achieving 50
letter–sound correspondences by winter of second grade has been set as the benchmark
for prediction of successful later reading achievement while reading o30 letter–sounds
per minute is predictive of poor reading outcomes in fourth grade. At-risk performers
were those not making satisfactory progress towards learning to read at the start of the
investigation. Based on benchmarks for children this age, these children were in need of
intensive instructional support if they were to achieve desired reading outcomes in fourth
grade. Those whose scores reached the established benchmark were considered not at
risk. According to Good et al. (2002), parents and teachers can be confident that these
children are making adequate progress towards reading outcomes. The group of children
who were classified as moderately at risk had not achieved the benchmark indicating
adequate reading progress, yet they were not below the at-risk benchmark. No clear
prediction is available for these students; however, they may be moving off track in their
reading development (Good et al., 2002). Other research using a similar risk status
classification has resulted in more clearly distinguishing results of an on-screen print
intervention (Linebarger et al., 2004).
Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) models were used to evaluate group differences on
the post-test video-specific and normative measures. Between-subjects factors included
group (two levels: captions and non-captions), child’s risk status (three levels: at risk,
moderately at risk, not at risk) and child’s gender (two levels). Preliminary ANOVAs
examining each factor indicated that child’s gender was unrelated to any of the child
outcomes and was, therefore, dropped from the final models. We also examined whether
the children’s background (i.e. African American English-speaking or Hispanic English
language learners) impacted our results. Across the outcomes, the findings were either
that English language learners benefited from the caption intervention and English
speakers’ performance did not differ (i.e. target word, literal and inferential
comprehension); that both benefited from the intervention, but the effects were larger
for ELL children (i.e. target word recognition, Dolch words and NWF); or that there were
no benefits of the intervention for either group (i.e. ORF, decontextualised target word
recognition). Because our hypotheses were related to the efficacy of the delivered
intervention and the role that risk status played in that effectiveness, we controlled for the
child’s background in our analyses.
Several other covariates were used or constructed to control for potential third
variables. All analyses controlled for children’s scores on a particular outcome at pre-test
(e.g. pre-test NWF scores were controlled for when analysing post-NWF outcomes). For
analyses related to specific programme content, the pre-test target word recognition score
was used as a covariate. For analyses related to normative assessments, pre-test scores for
each normative measure were controlled. Finally, in all analyses, maternal and child
composites were used as covariates. The maternal composite, focusing on maternal
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education, was constructed by z-score transforming and then summing reported maternal
years of education and mother’s highest degree. Mother’s education is a commonly used
covariate that has been found to relate to both child media use and literacy or academic
achievement outcomes (Anderson et al., 2001; Linebarger et al., 2004; Wright et al.,
2001). The child composite, focusing on frequency of child’s literacy-related behaviours,
was formed by z-score transforming and summing how often a child read books alone or
wrote letters, stories and other print-related activities.
The computed ANCOVA models allowed us to examine an overall or omnibus F-test
for the significance of the risk by group interaction effects. We also executed planned
comparisons examining group differences within each level of risk to determine which, if
any, of the comparisons were most involved with a significant omnibus interaction effect,
or, alternatively, if the omnibus was not significant, to evaluate whether any of the simple
main effects were significant. Corrections for experiment-wise error were performed
using modified Bonferroni adjustments of the alevel (i.e. reducing Type 1 error rates or
finding a significant difference when one does not exist; Jaccard, 1998). To estimate the
practical significance of the outcomes, effects sizes were computed (i.e. Cohen’s d;
Cohen, 1988). Table 2 reports all findings from the final ANCOVA analyses.
Impact of captions and video-specific content
Video-specific word recognition. We expected that children in the captions condition
would outperform children in the non-captions condition on the target word recognition
task and that these results would be moderated by risk status. Our results showed that
children who viewed programming with captions did not perform significantly differently
from their non-caption viewing peers on the target word recognition measure, although
trends were in favour of the captions group (no captions: M5150.64, SD 559.93;
captions: M5165.25, SD 556.85; d50.20). As predicted, we did find that risk status
moderated word recognition outcomes. Specifically, a significant two-way interaction
between group and risk status was present, F(2, 69) 54.327, p5.018, indicating that at-
risk (d50.61) and moderately at-risk (d50.84) children who viewed programmes with
captions did benefit from the intervention when compared with their counterparts who
viewed without captions while not-at-risk children who viewed without captions
outperformed their peers who viewed with captions (d5!0.45; see Figure 1). There
were no significant univariate tests indicating that all simple main effects of group were
contributing equally to the pattern of relationships identified in the interaction.
Video-specific comprehension. We hypothesised that children in the non-captions group
would outperform their peers in the captions group on the comprehension tasks and that
risk status would moderate these findings. Unexpectedly, we found that target word
comprehension and inferential comprehension scores were higher after viewing
programmes with captions versus viewing programmes without captions while literal
comprehension scores were unaffected by viewing condition. Further, risk status did not
moderate these findings.
Children who viewed with captions knew the meaning of more target words
(M5136.72, SD 547.09) when compared with children who viewed without captions
(M5113.22, SD 549.64), F(2, 69) 54.157, p5.046, d50.49. There were no
significant main effects or interactions for literal comprehension. Means for both groups
were nearly identical (captions: M59.46, SD 52.19; no captions: M59.77, SD 52.13;
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d5!0.14), suggesting that all children were able to adequately identify the critical story
event in each video. Finally, for inferential comprehension, there was a significant main
effect of group, F(1, 69) 54.023, p5.049, d50.48. Children who viewed with captions
were better able to provide the main idea of each programme (M511.05, SD 52.54)
compared with children who viewed without captions (M59.79, SD 52.72).
Table 2. Means, standard errors and ANCOVA results for group by risk status across all outcomes.
Outcome Non-captions Captions ANCOVA Fand (partial Z
M SE M SE Group (G) Risk (R) G "R
Target word recognition 1.101 (.018) 0.671 (.022) 4.327
At risk 128.18 23.94 159.28 20.34
Moderately at risk 140.54 15.11 187.89 15.72
Not at risk 183.21
14.76 148.56
Group means 150.64 10.13 165.25 9.61
Target word comprehension 4.157
(.065) 0.408 (.013) 0.868 (.028)
At risk 109.88
19.84 157.89
Moderately at risk 115.36 12.52 124.81 13.02
Not at risk 114.41 12.22 127.47 12.79
Group means 110.69 9.43 131.26 8.85
Literal comprehension 0.352 (.006) 1.369 (.044) 1.006 (.032)
At risk 9.59 0.89 10.73 0.75
Moderately at risk 9.42 0.56 8.72 0.58
Not at risk 9.39 0.55 9.86 0.57
Group means 9.46 0.37 9.77 0.36
Inferential comprehension 4.023
(.063) 0.698 (.023) 0.805 (.026)
At risk 9.90
1.08 12.25
Moderately at risk 10.03 0.68 10.25 0.71
Not at risk 9.46 0.66 10.65 0.70
Group means 9.79 0.46 11.05 0.43
Dolch words 5.160
(.080) 0.017 (.001) 2.97
At risk 164.98 8.80 178.98 8.84
Moderately at risk 160.70
5.80 185.91
Not at risk 174.43 5.51 172.38 5.86
Group means 166.70 3.87 179.09 3.87
Decontextualised word recognition 1.651 (.027) 0.052 (.002) 1.035 (.034)
At risk 34.72
5.49 45.26
Moderately at risk 39.32 3.49 42.82 3.79
Not at risk 40.70 3.50 39.34 3.55
Group means 38.25 2.33 42.47 2.35
Nonsense word fluency 4.83
(.076) 2.851
(.088) 0.263 (.009)
At risk 64.47 12.49 77.04 12.32
Moderately at risk 66.27 7.82 87.54 8.22
Not at risk 45.72 9.22 57.09 8.41
Group means 58.82 4.91 73.89 5.14
Oral reading fluency 0.190 (.003) 0.853 (.028) 0.104 (.004)
At risk 59.22 8.56 59.37 7.94
Moderately at risk 58.04 5.52 52.66 5.86
Not at risk 63.86 5.38 62.36 5.50
Group means 60.37 3.68 58.13 3.64
Notes: Group by risk status mean differences (i.e. means in each row) sharing the same superscript are either
marginally significant (
) or significantly different (
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Transfer of video-specific content to normative literacy outcomes
General word recognition. We expected that viewing captions over time would support
children’s ability to transfer video-specific recognition of target words to decontextua-
lised word recognition tasks at the conclusion of the intervention when compared with
children watching the same programmes without captions. Further, we expected that risk
status would moderate these findings.
For the Dolch words tasks, we found a significant main effect of group,
F(1, 69) 55.160, p5.027, d50.54. Caption viewers were able to accurately and
fluently read more Dolch words (M5179.09, SD 522.90) when compared with non-
caption viewers (M5166.70, SD 522.90). There was also a marginally significant two-
way interaction between group and risk status, F(2, 69) 52.97, p5.059. At-risk
(d50.74) and moderately at-risk (d51.06) children who viewed programmes with
captions outperformed their counterparts who viewed without captions while not-at-risk
children who viewed without captions outperformed their peers who viewed with
captions (d5!0.06; see Figure 2). Univariate tests indicated that moderately at-risk
children were most involved in the significant result, F(1, 60) 57.43, p5.008. There
were no significant main effects or interactions for decontextualised target word
recognition, although the trend favoured caption viewers over non-caption viewers
(captions: M542.47, SD 513.90; no captions: M538.25, SD 513.78; d50.30).
Normative code-related skills. In line with the extant literature, we expected children in
the captions viewing condition to outperform their non-captions viewing peers on
normative code-related skill assessments, and for risk status to moderate this relationship.
For the NWF task, there was a significant main effect of group, F(1, 69) 54.830,
p5.032, d50.52. Caption viewers were able to read more nonsense words in 1 minute
(M573.89, SD 529.05) when compared with non-caption viewers (M558.82,
SD 529.05). There was also a marginally significant main effect of risk status,
F(1, 69) 52.851, p5.066. Moderately at-risk viewers (M576.91, SD 531.05) out-
performed at-risk viewers (M570.76, SD 555.05; d50.14) who, in turn, outperformed
not-at-risk viewers (M551.41, SD 540.37; d50.40). There were no significant main
At Risk Some Risk No Risk
Mean Target Word Recognition
Figure 1. Two-way interaction between risk status and group for target word recognition.
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effects or interactions for ORF. Means for both groups were nearly identical (captions:
M558.13 wpm, SD 521.53; no captions: M560.37, SD 521.77; d5!0.10).
The majority of outcomes examined indicated that children who viewed with captions
outperformed their counterparts who viewed without captions. Risk status moderated the
relationship for target word recognition as well as Dolch words.
Impact of captions on word recognition
Dual coding theory predicts that the information delivered via more than one modality
(e.g. aural, video, print) should be better learned than information delivered via one
modality (Paivio & Csapo, 1973). We did find that word recognition scores for both
programme-specific content (i.e. target word recognition) and more generic content (i.e.
Dolch words) were higher for caption viewers when compared with non-caption viewers.
Programme-specific performance was moderated by risk status, indicating that effects
were limited to only at-risk and moderately at-risk children. This finding is explained by
the ‘travelling lens’ model. Specifically, children who have at least some familiarity with
print, but not so much that reading print is automatic or easy, would be most likely to
attend to the print due to its novelty and challenge. Earlier research found that children
most at risk and those not at risk did not benefit from educational television containing
on-screen print (Linebarger et al., 2004); however, the stimuli used in this earlier study
displayed only selected content in a print format and the children were younger (i.e.
Kindergarten and first grade). It is likely that by second and third grade, the children still
struggling with reading had enough print familiarity to find the presented content
moderately novel and challenging and thereby worthwhile to attend to. Conversely, those
children who had learned to read either found the content too easy and tuned it out (i.e.
not at risk) or they already possessed the skills measured in this study. Although
At Risk Some Risk No Risk
Mean Number of Dolch Words
Figure 2. Two-way interaction between risk status and group for mean number of Dolch words.
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decontextualised target word recognition mean scores were higher for caption viewers at
the post-test, this difference was not significant.
In addition to displaying on-screen print tied to the aural narration, repetition of target
words probably played a role in learning to read these words. Target words repeated, on
average, 25 times per video and, when originally selected for this study, did not repeat in
any of the other videos children would see. This level of exposure was enough to help
children identify and read the words immediately after viewing, but not to retain or transfer
their knowledge of that word to a decontextualised reading task after a period of 10 days to
2 weeks. The improved performance for Dolch words, which did repeat in each video (i.e.
48.3% of the words, on average, in each video were comprised of Dolch words), suggests
that repeat exposure to on-screen print paired with visual and auditory inputs does help
children learn, retain and transfer knowledge of these words to a delayed reading task.
Impact of captions on comprehension scores
As with word recognition, dual coding theory predicts that comprehension of programme
content would be enhanced when that content was delivered in two modalities; however,
the effects of content delivered in three modalities is unclear. Linebarger (2001) found
that aural narration coupled with visual information supported children’s incidental and
inferential comprehension abilities (just two modalities) while on-screen print when
coupled with both aural narration and visual information (three modalities) supported
literal comprehension (i.e. when ‘x’ happened, what happened next). Given that
Linebarger’s (2001) sample was most similar to our sample, we hypothesised that
comprehension scores would be the highest for children viewing without captions
because only two modalities would be involved in the delivery of content and would,
therefore, not overload children’s limited cognitive resources. Despite these concerns, we
found that comprehension scores on two of the three comprehension tasks favoured
caption viewers over non-caption viewers (i.e. target word comprehension, inferential
comprehension). Further, the remaining outcome, literal comprehension scores, was
unaffected by the presence or absence of captions. Rather than overloading the child’s
cognitive capacity, it appears that the delivery of information via three modalities helped
the viewer focus on the episode content.
It may also be the case that children spent little time fixating on the on-screen print
(although word recognition scores would suggest that at least some attention was paid to
the print). In eye-tracking work with younger children, there were very few fixations to
print in both traditional stories (i.e. books; 4.5% of fixations to print; Evans & Saint-
Aubin, 2005; Justice, Skibbe, Canning & Lankford, 2005) and televised stories (Vaala,
Lapierre & Linebarger, 2009). By adulthood, 84% of fixations were to on-screen print
(Jensema, El Sharkawy, Danturthi, Burch & Hsu, 2000). Although not an exact
comparison, interpolating from these studies suggests that children in our sample likely
paid more attention than the younger children in Linebarger’s (2001) study but not so
much that they were unable to comprehend word meanings and content.
Impact of captions on code-related skills
Identification of nonsense words measured children’s knowledge of the alphabetic
principle and their understanding of English orthographic structure and was improved in
the presence of captions. The triple modality inputs for words (i.e. auditory, visual,
linguistic) that the captions-viewing group experienced helped children increase their
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stores of semantic and syntactic abilities, making them more fluent on this task (i.e. their
ability to identify sounds increased from 50 spm before the intervention to 66 spm after
the intervention). However, transferring this sound-specific fluency to more fluent reading
of generalised English-reading passages (i.e. ORF) did not occur. This is very close to our
findings reported here. Linebarger (2001) also found no impacts of captions on children’s
ORF scores. As with the decontextualised target word recognition task described above, it
is likely that viewing six different educational television programmes was not sufficient
to move the child’s general reading fluency abilities.
Although captions were not found to enhance children’s reading fluency, the findings
in favour of captions for supporting nonsense word identification are important. Fisch
(2000, 2004) discusses the importance of transfer of learning, or the ability to take
programme-specific content, mentally encode that content and then use it appropriately in
novel situations. These normative reading assessments measure children’s ability to
transfer the specific literacy content featured in the videos into more generalised literacy
skills. One of the most important educational goals for children is learning to transfer
specific skills to generalised contexts. Fisch (2004) suggested that this goal is best
supported through varied practice, or exposure to multiple examples in a variety of
formats. Educational television coupled with captions provided multiple and varied
formats that helped young children in this study begin to make this transfer.
Implications for intervention
Using captions for young at-risk readers can be an effective supplemental literacy tool in
supporting word recognition, content comprehension and code-related literacy skills after
viewing just six different educational TV programmes one time. Linebarger (2001) found
this to be true with carefully constructed scripts written with maximal reading supports
embedded. The stimuli used in this study generalise Linebarger’s (2001) findings to
commercially available, high-quality educational programming and the feasibility of
captions as an easy-to-use, pervasive and scalable intervention. Coupling our findings with
Koskinen et al.’s (1997) study of continuous caption use across many types of programming
in the home provides compelling evidence for the power of this nearly universal resource
available on every television set manufactured in the United States since July 1993.
Several limitations must be considered when interpreting these findings. First, the small
sample size warrants caution in the generalisability of the findings beyond these
populations. However, because these children are generally at higher risk for delays in
literacy skills, the current positive findings contribute additional support for the benefits
of captions and, more generally, on-screen print to the extant literature featuring hearing-
impaired, learning-disabled and English language learners (e.g. Adler, 1985; Koskinen
et al., 1986; Linebarger, 2001; Linebarger et al., 2004; Neuman & Koskinen, 1992; Parks,
1994). In these populations, using captions and on-screen text was related to
improvements in various reading abilities as well as an increased desire to use television
as a literacy tool. Second, it is important to remember that the viewing environment of the
study (i.e. small groups in empty classrooms) may have somehow altered how the
children experienced the medium. Although all children viewed in the same environment,
it is possible that these findings would not translate in the same manner in a more
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common viewing environment such as the child’s home. Koskinen et al.’s (1997) home
study suggests that it would.
Overall, these results support the developing body of evidence that early readers can learn
to read and gain a clearer understanding of new words while viewing existing children’s
educational programming with print on-screen (Linebarger, 2001; Linebarger et al., 2004;
Prince et al., 2002). Interestingly, these results also suggest that television captioning
increases attention to and subsequent comprehension of television content. If the goal is
to help children learn to recognise and subsequently understand the meaning of new
words as well as transfer specific literacy content into more generalised literacy skills,
then turning the closed captions option on while children are watching television at home
or in school is a good starting point.
1. Researchers found a curvilinear relationship between parents’ education and child screen media use (i.e.
television, videos/DVDs and movies); that is, children whose parents either had equivalent to or less than a
high school diploma or at least a college degree watched the most television while those whose parents had
some college watched the least (i.e. high school diploma or less – 4 hours 23 minutes; some college – 3 hours
46 minutes; college or greater – 4 hours 20 minutes; Roberts et al., 2005).
2. Captions for children’s programmes are not verbatim; rather, they are edited, typically for beginning or easy
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... There is some evidence in the literature that SLS significantly impacts reading skills (Bird & Williams, 2002;Danan, 2004;Linebarger et al., 2010). A controlled experiment with schoolchildren in India demonstrated that SLS leads to reading improvement (Kothari & Takeda, 2000). ...
... TV for reading literacy has been in India, through research, pilot TV implementations in 10 Indian languages and evidence-based policy advocacy (Kothari & Bandyopadhyay, 2020). However, the positive impact of SLS use on reading literacy has also been affirmed in research studies from other countries (Koskinen et al., 1997;D. Linebarger et al., 2001D. Linebarger et al., , 2010Parkhill & Davey, 2014). Taken together, these studies make a strong case that routine and regular exposure to SLS can have an impact at scale on a population's reading development. ...
... There are few longitudinal studies on the impact of captions on reading skills (Koskinen, 1985). Linebarger et al. (2010) study indicated that children who viewed video with captions improved their reading faster than their counterparts who viewed without captions, and the improvement was most pronounced among children at risk for poor reading outcomes. Similarly, in New Zealand, Parkhill & Johnson (2009) found that in their six-week 'AVAILLL' program for children aged 5-13 years, which uses popular, subtitled movies and accompanying novels to engage students in reading literacy, the greatest gains occurred for 'low-progress' readers. ...
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Same Language Subtitling (SLS) of audio-visual content on mainstream TV entertainment to improve mass reading literacy was first conceived and piloted in India. SLS is now being scaled up nationally to ensure that the reading skills of one billion TV viewers, including 600 million weak readers, remain on a lifelong pathway to practice, progress, and proficiency. Will weak readers ignore or try to read along with SLS? Our eye-tracking study investigates this question with 136 weak readers drawn from a remote village in Rajasthan state by showing them popular Hindi film clips of dialog and songs, with and without SLS. We developed an interactive web-based visual analytics tool for exploring eye-tracking data. Based on an analysis of fixations, saccades, and time spent in the subtitle and non-subtitle areas, our main finding is that 70 percent of weak readers engaged in unprompted reading while watching film clips with SLS. We observed that saccadic eye movement is a good indicator to quantify the amount of reading with SLS, and saccadic regression can further differentiate weak readers. Eye-tracking studies of weak readers watching subtitles are rare, and ours may be the first with subjects from rural India.
... This can force the viewer to shift (or split) their attention to what they deem the most relevant source of information in order to reduce this load, rather than focusing on both sources at once (Kruger et al. 2015). Most often, the processing of this extra source of information is dependent on the viewer's ability -the viewer's reading proficiency and the general cognitive capacity required to process the extra channel of information (Linebarger et al. 2010). ...
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Given the recent and sudden transition from classrooms to online teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic, more emphasis is being placed on providing the same classroom experience to students on an online (or e-learning) platform. To increase accessibility to online content, subtitles are sometimes added to videos, but this may come at a cost. Not only is the addition of subtitles an extra source of information to be processed, the type of subtitle may differ (automatic or standardised) and subtitles are in competition with other sources of information that also need to be processed. This can result in subtitles becoming redundant, failing to contribute to accessibility at all. This study was conducted to determine how the processing of subtitles was influenced by redundant information (graphs, tables, etc.) on the screen, using eye-tracking data. Two different types of subtitles, automatic and standardised, were also used. Findings indicated that the standardised subtitles were 45% more likely to be processed than the automatic subtitles and that both types of subtitles were 24% less likely to be processed with redundant information. The findings suggest that great care needs to be taken when adding subtitles to videos and how these videos are structured.
... tura(Koskinen et al., 1987;Linebarger, 2006;Linebarger et al. 2007;Moses, 2008;Jennings, Hooker & Linebarger, 2009). El éxito de esta técnica como material eficaz para estimular el proceso de aprendizaje de la lectura radica en el hecho de que contribuye a incrementar la motivación de los niños de cara a enfrentarse a un nuevo aprendizaje(Linebarger et al., 2007;Linebarger, Taylor-Piotrowski & Greenwood, 2010).En general, los autores señalan que el uso reiterado y frecuente de los subtítulos favorece el aprendizaje lingüístico y esto es atribuido, en gran parte, y tal y como ya se ha mencionado, a que el mensaje verbal es transmitido por dos canales diferentes (auditivo y visual) sumado a la información, no menos importante, que aportan las imágenes(Bachetti, 2003;Chaume, 2003;Sokoli, 2006;Bartoll, 2008). ...
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En la actual sociedad de la información en la que vivimos inmersos, el uso de medios audiovisuales con finalidad docente está muy extendido, en este sentido se puede destacar el uso de los subtítulos, que ofrecen un gran potencial didáctico reconocido. Este hecho, sumado a la cada vez mayor necesidad de encontrar recursos que permitan a los logopedas diseñar material adaptable a las exigencias y preferencias de sus pacientes es lo que ha favorecido que se haya planteado extender el uso de esta técnica al ámbito logopédico. El objetivo de este artículo, por lo tanto, es ofrecer una propuesta para trabajar el aprendizaje de la lectura y la escritura con niños con discapacidad auditiva aplicando material audiovisual subtitulado y en un contexto logopédico.
... As pointed out by Gernsbacher [23], research has proven that closed captions benefit hearing individuals of all ages [5,9,24,27,33,34], including language learners [6,26,35,45,54]. Nevertheless, CC is often conceptualized as a service for people with hearing loss. ...
The final presidential debate in the U.S. was one of the most widely followed programs of 2016. The main broadcasters aired it live on television and streamed it through social media with closed captioning so that all Americans could access this highly awaited political event. After the debate night, most networks uploaded the full program or fragments of it to their websites in order to make it available to viewers who had missed the original transmission. This paper focuses on the closed captioning provided in the videos of the final debate available on the websites and YouTube channels of the most prominent networks that televised the event. Drawing on literature from Media Accessibility, Communication and Internet Studies, an analysis of the availability and functionality of the online captions in those clips was performed, which proved that the accessibility services offered after the debate night to audiences with hearing loss could be substantially improved.
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While a considerable body of experimental work has been conducted since the beginning of the 1980s to study whether subtitles enhance the acquisition of other languages in adults, research of this type investigating subtitles as a tool for enhancing children’s language learning and literacy has received less attention. This study provides an integrative review of existing studies in this area and finds extensive evidence that subtitled AV content can indeed aid the acquisition of other languages in children and adolescents, and that it can moreover enhance the literacy skills of children learning to read in their L1 or the official language of the country in which they live and receive schooling. Recommendations for future research are also made, and it is highlighted that further research using eye tracking to measure children’s gaze behaviour could shed new light on their attention to and processing of subtitled AV content.
Previous research has shown that young children can learn from educational television programmes, videos or other technological media. However, the blending of any of these with traditional printed based text appears to be omitted. Repeated viewing is an important factor in children's ability to comprehend the content or plot. The present study used spoken texts coupled with moving images requiring repeated viewing. It is original and distinctive. The theoretical framework was Mayer's multimedia learning theory combined with Vygotsky's learning theory. The first study was a pilot study to explore whether the intervention was implementable in ordinary classrooms. The second study explored whether curricular embedding of the video was important. The third study explored the effect of “dosage”, i.e. whether a longer/more intense intervention had a proportionately greater effect on outcomes. Both quantitative outcomes (receptive vocabulary, letter sound knowledge, and early word recognition) and qualitative outcomes (comprehension of video content, teacher-child dialogue and drawings) were obtained. An experimental design was used with 4-5-year-old children in nursery and primary schools for the first three phases. Six links to video clips exploring non-fiction science content were provided to teachers in the first three studies. About half of each class was selected randomly for pre-post assessments (the British Picture Vocabulary Scale (BPVSIII) and the York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC) Early Reading). Different implementation fidelity measures were used - observations, teacher self-reports, attendance logs and post-programme interviews. All data gathered was triangulated. Quantitative data showed there was no significant pre-post differences in children's receptive vocabulary, letter sound knowledge, and early word recognition. A Case Study followed to explore how the teachers used the spoken texts coupled with moving images to mediate the children’s learning, how children responded to the teacher's effort to support them, and what other factors were operating in the situation to promote children's comprehension on video content, language development and literacy skills. Five links to non-fiction video clips were provided. The qualitative data from the Case Study revealed that the use of spoken texts coupled with moving images can promote and support children's literacy skills, particularly in teacher-child dialogic talk, retelling stories and making meaning in drawing. The child-interview evidenced that the use of spoken texts coupled with moving images supported children to remember, to comprehend, to evaluate, and to analyse. The teacher interview showed there were deeper and more meaningful ways to support children's comprehension of video content and connect this to language and literacy. Implications for practitioners and researchers were explored.
Conference Paper
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The author investigated caption use, sound, and the reading behavior of 76 children who had just completed 2nd grade. The present study indicated that beginning readers recognize more words when they view television that uses captions. The auditory element was important for comprehension tasks related to incidental elements and spontaneous use of target words, and the combination of captions and sound helped children identify the critical story elements in the video clips. Positive beliefs about one's competence in reading or watching television appeared to facilitate the recognition of words and, for boys, improve their oral reading rates. In sum, television captions, by evoking efforts to read, appeared to help a child focus on central story elements and away from distracting information, including sound effects and visual glitz. Implications are discussed.
In 2 experiments, mechanically naive college students viewed an animation depicting the operation of a bicycle tire pump that included a verbal description given before (words-before-pictures) or during (words-with-pictures) the animation. The words-with-pictures group outperformed the words-before-pictures group on tests of creative problem solving that involved reasoning about how the pump works. In a follow-up experiment, students in the words-with-pictures group performed better on the problem-solving test than students who saw the animation without words (pictures only), heard the words without the animation (words only), or received no training (control). Results support a dual-coding hypothesis (Paivio, 1990) that posits two kinds of connections: representational connections between verbal stimuli and verbal representations and between visual stimuli and visual representations and referential connections between visual and verbal representations.
This chapter focuses on the problem of memory coding, for which dual-coding approach is presented in which the major theoretical distinction is between verbal and nonverbal memory systems. The theory assumes that the two memory systems are functionally independent in a strong sense. This assumption has various empirical implications that are reviewed briefly, but the major emphasis is on one implication, namely, that independent memory systems should have additive effects on memory performance. The chapter reports a series of recent studies in which this idea has been applied to dual-coding effects and extended to dimensions that may cut across the verbal-nonverbal distinction. The dual-coding and common-coding approaches are discussed in more detail, together with a brief review of general evidence on relevant distinctions. Finally, a method of attack and related experimental data is presented, which involves encoding and repetition effects designed to reveal dimensions of memory that are functionally independent to a significant degree.