Children's Learning from Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond

Children's Learning from Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond

Children's Learning from Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond

Children's Learning from Educational Television: Sesame Street and Beyond


At its best, educational television can provide children with enormous opportunities and can serve as a window to new experiences, enrich academic knowledge, enhance attitudes and motivation, and nurture social skills. This volume documents the impact of educational television in a variety of subject areas and proposes mechanisms to explain its effects. Drawing from a wide variety of research spanning several disciplines, author Shalom M. Fisch analyzes the literature on the impact of educational resources. He focuses on television programs designed for children rather than for adults, although adult literature is included when it is particularly relevant. In addition, much of the discussion concerns the effects of unaided viewing by children, rather than viewing in the context of adult-led follow-up activities. The role of parent-child co-viewing and issues relevant to the use of television in school or child care also receives consideration. This volume is intended to make the disparate literature on educational television's impact more accessible, by bringing it together into a centralized resource. To that end, the volume draws together empirical data on the impact of educational television programs--both academic and prosocial--on children's knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavior. In addition to its emphasis on positive effects, this volume addresses a gap in the existing research literature regarding children's learning from exposure to educational television. Acknowledging that little theoretical work has been done to explain why or how these effects occur, Fisch takes a step toward correcting this situation by proposing theoretical models to explore aspects of the mental processing that underlies children's learning from educational television. With its unique perspective on children's educational television and comprehensive approach to studying the topic, this volume is required reading for scholars, researchers, and students working in the area of children and television. It offers crucial insights to scholars in developmental psychology, family studies, educational psychology, and related areas.


In writing this book, I have drawn on a disparate literature that spans several disciplines and a wide variety of sources. Although my name is the only one that appears on the cover, this book would not have been possible without the support of assorted friends, family, and colleagues. Thus, apart from saying the traditional Baruch Hashem, I would like to express my gratitude to the following:

The writing of this volume was supported by a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. My thanks to the Carnegie staff, and to program officer Andrés Henriquez in particular.

As always, I am grateful for the encouragement, patience, and good sense of LEA editor Linda Bathgate and series editor Jennings Bryant. I especially appreciate their not laughing too hard when I estimated the time it would take to write the book, and their not saying “I told you so” when I was wrong.

All of my work in this area would be impossible without the experience of working with so many talented researchers, producers, and educators over the years. They have helped to shape my thinking and to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Special thanks are due to the past and present research staff of Sesame Workshop (née Children's Television Workshop) for their knowledge, support, and friendship. I hesitate to single out any colleague individually, but I must acknowledge a few whose contributions are most relevant to this volume. Rosemarie Truglio and . . .

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