EVALUATING THE CLASSROOM VIEWING OF A TELEVISION SERIES: "DEGRASSI JUNIOR HIGH"
Dorothy G. Singer
Jerome L. Singer
Researchers studying the behavioral correlates of television viewing for children in the 11- to 15-year-old age group have generally reported associations of gender stereotyping and potentially at-risk attitudinal orientations with heavy television viewing. One reason may be that entertainment television contains frequent examples of gender stereotyping, substance abuse (especially alcohol), maladaptive ways of coping with problems, and other high-risk behaviors ( Greenfield et al., 1987; Harwood & Weissberg, 1987; Morgan, 1987; Signorielli, 1987). One effort to counteract this programing trend eventuated in the development of a joint United States-Canadian television series, "Degrassi Junior High," aimed at a late puberty to early adolescent target population. Increasing awareness of persisting substance abuse and poor social problem-solving skills in many children within this age bracket also has led to calls for more imaginative use of the natural interest of these children in television as a means of supplementing primary prevention efforts in the classroom ( Harwood & Weissberg, 1987). In this chapter we examine a research intervention and process evaluation of the use of episodes of the "Degrassi" series with and without teacher-led discussion as part of a school system's substance abuse prevention and problem-solving skill promotion program.