Program

Sep 07, 2012

OVERVIEW

Arthur is an educational television program for children aged four to eight that intends to promote reading, problem-solving, being a good friend, connecting to family, appreciating diversity, and having fun. Bilingual, English-language learning children watched the educational PBS television program Arthur in their classrooms. The children watched the half-hour long program three times a week for 7 months. The experimental randomized evaluation found that the Arthur program improved children’s narrative development compared with children in the control condition who watched the Between the Lions program.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Children ages 4-8

Arthur is an educational television program for children who are ages four to eight years old. The cartoon focuses on an Aardvark named “Arthur” and contains narrative stories of his life. The program intends to promote six main concepts to children: reading, solving problems creatively, being a good friend, connecting to family, appreciating diversity, and having fun. The program also has an extensive website with many activities for children, a series of books from which the television series was developed, and sets of library resources designed for children.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Uchikoshi, Y. (2005). Narrative development in bilingual kindergartens: Can Arthur help? Developmental Psychology, 41(3), 464-478.

Evaluated population: The evaluated population was 108 kindergarteners from bilingual classrooms in six urban, east coast public schools. School data indicated that 80 percent of students at these schools qualified for free lunches. Children averaged 5.6 years in age and 56 percent were male. At pre-test, the average English vocabulary development of the children was equivalent to a child aged 3 years and 2 months, and the average Spanish vocabulary development of the children was equivalent to a child aged 4 years 8 months to 5 years.

Approach: Students within each classroom were matched according to gender and English vocabulary development scores. Children within each classroom were randomly assigned to the treatment and control group. The treatment group watched the Arthur program, and the control group watched Between the Lions, another educational PBS television program that did not specifically focus on narrative development. Children in both groups watched three half-hour episodes per week in their classes for a total of 18 weeks. Children were assessed at baseline, after watching half of the 54 total episodes, and again after the treatment had concluded. At all three time points, narrative skills were tested by having the children generate and tell the researchers a story based on three pictures. Researchers measured the total number of words used, mean clause length, and narrative structure. Narrative structure was composed of five elements that were coded by the researchers: story structure, number of main events, evaluation, temporality and reference, and storybook language. Narrative skills have been identified as important predictors of later literacy and school success.

Results: In initial analyses, children in both groups had equivalent baseline knowledge and demographic characteristics. Children in the treatment condition who watched Arthur improved more on narrative outcomes than children in the control condition who watched Between the Lions. Children in the treatment condition also improved more on story structure and evaluation than children in the control condition. There were no significant differences between the groups on events, temporality and reference,
and storybook language.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References

Uchikoshi, Y. (2005). Narrative development in bilingual kindergartens: Can Arthur help? Developmental Psychology, 41(3), 464-478.

Website: The ArthurPBS website can be found at: http://pbskids.org/arthur/index.html

The Between the LionsPBS website can be found at: http://pbskids.org/lions/

KEYWORDS: Early Childhood (0-5), Children (3-11), School-based, Early Childhood Education, Tutoring, Community or Media Campaign, Urban, Hispanic or Latino, Kindergarten, Education

Program information last updated 9/7/2012.

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