Transfer of Learning From
Educational Television: When
and Why Does It Occur?
Let's play “What Do We Know?”
—George Frankly, Square One TV
As seen throughout this volume, numerous studies have shown that viewing educational television results in significant gains in preschool and school-age children's academic knowledge or skills. However, the evidence is less consistent regarding transfer of learning. Transfer of learning or learning transfer refers to the application of knowledge or skills learned in one context (in this case, a story in an educational television program) to a new problem or situation that differs from the one that was encountered previously.
Consider, for example, one of the findings from summative research on the science and technology series Cro (see chap. 6, this volume). After watching an episode of Cro about airplanes and flight, viewers of Cro showed significantly greater comprehension of the educational content in the episode than children who had not viewed the episode. When shown pictures of failed attempts at flying machines that were taken from the episode, significantly more Cro viewers than nonviewers explained the failures in terms of underlying principles (i.e., the size, shape, and sturdiness of the wings), rather than surface features (e.g., saying that the devices did not look like airplanes). Yet, when the children were presented with an analogous new problem in which they could apply the same underlying principles, viewers did not differ significantly from nonviewers. In other words, the data indicated that viewers had comprehended the relevant principles, but failed to transfer them to a new problem (Goodman et al., 1993; cf. Fisch et al., 1995).
Similarly, an early summative study of the mathematics series Square One TV assessed comprehension of the mathematical content in several mathematical problem-solving segments on three levels: recall of the
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Publication information: Book title: Children's Learning from Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond. Contributors: Shalom M. Fisch - Author. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 164.
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