Integrating Content Acquisition Podcasts into Psych 100 and Upper-Level Courses

09 Jan 2018 10:00 AM | Anonymous

Maya Rose, Ph.D. Student, The Graduate Center CUNY (Presentation given at the 8th Annual Pedagogy Day)

During the October 2017 Pedagogy Day, I spoke about the implementation of Content Acquisition Podcasts into Intro and Upper-Level Psychology Classes. But what are Content Acquisition Podcasts or CAPs?

CAPs are short multimedia videos made in PowerPoint or a similar program that deliver content on one concept or term in a self-paced and interactive environment. Their design is based on Mayer’s Principles of the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTLM) which states that meaningful learning is enhanced when learners simultaneously encounter relevant information in both visual (e.g. pictures) and verbal (e.g. spoken words) modalities (Mayer, 1997; Mayer & Moreno, 2002). As a result, CAPs serve to decrease extraneous load and thus increase germane load. The extent to which CAPs strategically integrate Mayer’s instructional design principles along with evidence-based principles for concept learning has been researched and evaluated across age groups (see Kennedy et al., 2012; 2014).

The effectiveness of CAPs depends on the integration of these principles, and as such, it is critical for CAP creators to closely adhere to the following steps for producing a CAP (for more information about creating CAPs and for example CAP videos, see Kennedy et al., 2012; Vocab Support, 2018).  

1.     Identify the term or concept you want to target. Shorter CAPs may for example cover the psychology term “conformity” (a term we know oh so well), but longer CAPs may cover all of the relevant experiments having to do with “conformity” and “obedience” (think Milgram, Zimbardo and Asch).

2.     Create slides on the information you want to deliver along with an accompanying audio script. Make sure you satisfy the following requirements (adapted from Kennedy’s, n.d., CAP production steps):

  • The first and last slide of the presentation should include a definition of the targeted concept
  • Include examples of the targeted concept
  • Only include one detail per slide
  • Keep it very simple

3.     Replace most of the slides with high quality images so that each slide is only an image accompanied by relevant audio (before step 3, your slides will probably be quite text heavy). Do not include any unnecessary words or images!

4.     Insert key ideas on some of the slides if need be (but no full sentences)!

5.     Record accompanying audio script in iMovie or a similar platform that will allow you to integrate the audio with the slides. Make sure to practice reciting the script beforehand to make sure that the audio correctly coincides with the appropriate images in the presentation. You also want to make sure that the viewer can pause or slow down the CAP.

Past research has designed rubrics for evaluating CAPs by measuring the extent to which the CAP successfully integrates the CTML principles. This is critical because if these items are not met, extraneous load will not be mitigated! For more information on these rubrics, see Weiss et al. (2016).

How might we integrate CAPs into our courses? When are we supposed to use them? Do we include them in our in-class lessons or do we have students view them as “homework”? Both! CAPs can serve as supplemental material to textbooks or traditional lectures. Students may view CAPs at home on their own time in order to become more familiar with certain topics or when studying for exams.

Remember, CAPs can be shorter in length (2-3 minutes) and describe one concept or term (e.g. fundamental attribution error, conformity, or the Big 5 factor model of personality). They can also be longer in length (up to 7 minutes) and describe a larger topic such as a group of psychological disorders. Overall, the format is very flexible. CAPs can be designed for a variety of topics for students at all levels!

It may be useful to get together with your department and have a CAP party where you spend time creating and evaluating each other’s CAPs. CAPs can then be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo so that students can view them on their own time. This may be especially useful for online or blended classes or instances in which you do not have time to go over every important concept in class. In the end, the integration of CAPs into a course will afford you more time for in-class activities that are critical for learning and engagement. Lastly, teachers may include a CAP creation project as a requirement for their class where students design their own CAPs independently or in groups. Overall, this would serve as a motivating activity that could facilitate an active learning environment!


Kennedy, M. J. (n.d.). CAP [Content Acquisition Podcast] Production Steps. Retrieved from

Kennedy, M. J., Ely, E., Thomas, C. N., Pullen, P. C., Newton, J. R., Ashworth, K., Cole, M. T., Lovelace, S. P. (2012). Using multimedia tools to support teacher candidates’ learning.Teacher Education and Special Education35(3), 243–257.

Kennedy, M. J., Thomas, C. N., Meyer, J. P., Alves, K. D., & Lloyd, J. W. (2014).

Using evidence-based multimedia to improve vocabulary performance of adolescents with LD: A UDL approach. Learning Disability Quarterly37(2), 71–86.

Mayer, R. E. (1997). Multimedia learning: Are we asking right questions? Educational Psychologist.

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2002). Aids to computer-based multimedia learning. Learning and Instruction12, 107–119.

Vocab Support. [Online] Retrieved on Jan. 4 2018 from

Weiss, M. P., Evmenova, A. S., Kennedy, M. J., & Duke, J. M. (2016). Creating content acquisition podcasts (CAPs) for vocabulary: The intersection of content, pedagogy, and technology. Journal of Special Education Technology31(4), 228–235.

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