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<p>This article was downloaded by: [TBTAK EKUAL] On: 19 October 2010 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 772815468] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 3741 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p> <p>Media Psychology</p> <p>Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:</p> <p>The Impact of Sesame Street on Preschool Children: A Review and Synthesis of 30 Years' ResearchShalom M. Fisch; Rosemarie T. Truglio; Charlotte F. Cole Online publication date: 17 November 2009</p> <p>To cite this Article Fisch, Shalom M. , Truglio, Rosemarie T. and Cole, Charlotte F.(1999) 'The Impact of Sesame Street on</p> <p>Preschool Children: A Review and Synthesis of 30 Years' Research', Media Psychology, 1: 2, 165 190 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1207/s1532785xmep0102_5 URL:</p> <p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.</p> <p>MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY, I, 165-190. Copyright O 1999, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.</p> <p>The Impact of Sesame Street on Preschool Children:Downloaded By: [TBTAK EKUAL] At: 21:35 19 October 2010</p> <p>A Review and Synthesis of 30 Years' ResearchShalom M. Fisch Rosemarie T. Truglio Charlotte F. ColeChildren's Television Workshop</p> <p>Thirty years after its broadcast premiere, Sesame Street continues to pursue its mission of entertaining and educating children around the world. This article assesses the impact of the U.S. Sesame Street and several international Sesame Street coproductions, through a review of research on the series' effects on children's academic skills and social behavior: Consistent patterns of data collected over 30 years indicate that Sesame Street holds significant positive effects for its viewers across a broad range of subject areas. Measurable effects can endure for as long as 10 to 12 years, and many have been found to be consistent across countries and cultures as well.</p> <p>November 1999 marks the 30th anniversary of the premiere of Sesame Street on American television. For 30 years, Sesame Street has entertained and enlightened children across the United States and around the world. It is difficult today to realize what a revolutionary departure Sesame Street was from the existing state of children's television in the late 1960s. Although television series for children had been produced and broadcast since television was developed, no series prior to Sesame Street had attempted to address a set of specified educational goals: to teach a curriculum. Moreover, at the time, virtually nothing was known about the potential of television to serve as an Requests for reprints should be sent to Shalom M. Fisch, Children's Television Workshop, One Lincoln Plaza, New York, NY 10023. E-mail:</p> <p>166</p> <p>FISCH, TRUGLIO, &amp; COLE</p> <p>Downloaded By: [TBTAK EKUAL] At: 21:35 19 October 2010</p> <p>educational tool. Few systematic studies on the impact of educational television existed; few empirical data were available. Thanks to Sesame Street, that would soon change. Early on, the Sesame Street team realized that it would need substantial and ongoing involvement by experts in education and early child development. This realization led to the creation of what would eventually come to be called the CTW (Children's Television Workshop) Model (e.g., Mielke, 1990), an interdisciplinary approach to television production that brought together content experts, television producers, and educational researchers to collaborate throughout the life of the project (Fig. 1). This collaboration would not be pro forma, nor would it be limited to the occasional involvement of educational consultants. Rather, producers and researchers would work hand-in-hand at every stage of production. Sesame Street's first Executive Producer, David Connell, and Research Director, Edward Palmer, observed that "if Sesame Street was an experiment-and it very definitely continues to be one-this notion of broadcasterlresearcher cooperation was the most bold experiment within it" (Connell &amp; Palmer, 1971, p. 67).</p> <p>Figure I . The CTW Model.</p> <p>Research studies conducted in support of Sesame Street and all CTW projects fall into two broad categories. Formative research is conducted before and during production to provide information that can guide the production of new material. Summative research is conducted after production to assess whether the material has met its goals and to examine its impact on the series's audience. By 1999 Sesame Street had certainly become the most heavily researched series in the history of television. More than 1,000 studies have examined</p> <p>SESAME STREET</p> <p>167</p> <p>Downloaded By: [TBTAK EKUAL] At: 21:35 19 October 2010</p> <p>and its impact in areas such as literacy, number skills, and promoting prosocial messages, as well as its formal features as they pertain to such issues as children's attention (see CTW Research Division, 1989, for a comprehensive bibliography of studies through 1989). As a growing number of international coproductions of Sesame Street have appeared (such as the Mexican Plaza Stsamo or the Turkish Susam Sokagi), this research has also assumed an international scope, with studies conducted by local researchers to assess the impact of these series in their native countries and languages. This article reviews research that spans the past 30 years to examine the impact of Sesame Street on children. The first portion reviews several key studies on the impact of the U.S. version of Sesame Street on school readiness. Next, the review examines research on the series' impact on children's social development. Finally, the focus expands beyond the domestic Sesame Street series to discuss the process by which Sesame Street coproductions are created in countries other than the United States, along with evidence on the impact of some of those coproductions.Sesame Street</p> <p>SESAME STREETAND SCHOOL READINESSFrom the very beginning, one of the chief motivations behind the creation of Sesame Street was "to foster intellectual and cultural development in preschoolers" (Cooney, 1966), that is, to help preschool children-particularly those from minority and low-income families-become ready for school. Of course, "ready for school" is a very broad phrase that encompasses not only skills that are traditionally considered academic, such as number skills and learning to read, but also personal attributes, such as self-confidence, and interpersonal skills, such as cooperation with peers (Zero to Threemational Center for Clinical Infant Programs, 1992). This section reviews selected landmark studies on the impact of Sesame Street on children's performance in literacy, mathematics, and other "academic" subjects, with a particular emphasis on longitudinal studies that have assessed the impact of preschool children's viewing of Sesame Street on their later school performance and academic skills. Impact on interpersonal skills is addressed in the next section, Sesame Street and Social Behavior.</p> <p>Early Research on ImpactThe educational impact of Sesame Street was first documented in a pair of studies conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS; Ball &amp; Bogatz, 1970; Bogatz &amp; Ball, 1971). The first of these studies, conducted after the first</p> <p>168</p> <p>FISCH, TRUGLIO, &amp; COLE</p> <p>season of production was completed, assessed Sesame Street's impact on a variety of cognitive skills. A geographically and ethnically diverse sample of nearly 1,000 children aged 3 to 5 (most of whom were considered to be from disadvantaged backgrounds) were either encouraged or not encouraged to watch Sesame Street (at home or at school) during a 26-week period; across the sample, exposure ranged from zero times per week to more than five. Before and after this 26-week exposure, the children were tested via an extensive battery of measures that covered several dimensions: knowledge of the alphabet and numbers, names of body parts, recognition of forms, knowledge of relational terms, and sorting and classification skills. The results of the study indicated that exposure to Sesame Street had the desired educational effects across these dimensions. Those children who watched the most showed the greatest gains between pretest and posttest, and the areas that showed the greatest effects were those that had been emphasized the most in Sesame Street (e.g., letters). These effects held across age (although 3-year-olds showed the greatest gains, presumably because they knew the least when they came to the series), sex, geographic location, socioeconomic status (SES; with low-SES children showing greater gains than middle-SES children), native language (English or Spanish), and whether the children watched at home or in school. The second ETS study (Bogatz &amp; Ball, 1971) consisted of two components. One was a replication of the earlier study, using Season I1 shows that had been produced under a revised and expanded educational curriculum. This study confirmed the earlier results, finding significant gains in many of the same subject areas and in new areas that had been added in the second season (e.g., roles of community members, counting to 20 rather than 10). The second component was a follow-up study that examined 283 of the children from the Season I study (Ball &amp; Bogatz, 1970), about one-half of whom had begun school in the interim. Teachers were asked to rate all of the children in their classes on several dimensions (e.g., verbal readiness, quantitative readiness, attitude toward school, relationship with peers), without knowing which ones had been Sesame Street viewers or were participating in the study. Results showed that, contrary to the claims of critics of Sesame Street, viewers were not bored, restless, or passive when they entered a formal classroom experience. Rather, frequent Sesame Street viewers were rated as better prepared for school than their non- or low-viewing classmates. These findings were challenged by critics of Sesame Street, most notably by Cook and his colleagues (Cook et al., 1975). They argued that the effects observed in the ETS studies did not reflect merely the effect of watching Sesame</p> <p>Downloaded By: [TBTAK EKUAL] At: 21:35 19 October 2010</p> <p>SESAME STREETStreet;</p> <p>169</p> <p>Downloaded By: [TBTAK EKUAL] At: 21:35 19 October 2010</p> <p>rather, these researchers felt that the effects reflected a combination of viewing and adult involvement in the viewing experience. In fact, Cook et al.'s point was not without merit, as subsequent research has shown that young children's learning from television can be affected by parental coviewing and commentary (e.g., Reiser, Tessmer, &amp; Phelps, 1984; Reiser, Williamson, &amp; Suzuki, 1988). Yet, parental involvement was not solely responsible for the ETS findings. Even when Cook et al. conducted a re-analysis of the ETS data, controlling for other potentially contributing factors such as mothers' discussing Sesame Street with their child, the ETS effects were reduced, but many remained statistically significant. Such effects could not simply be explained through parental involvement; Sesame Street itself had made a significant contribution.</p> <p>Recent Research on ImpactThe above results are echoed and extended by several recent studies of the effects of viewing Sesame Street. A 3-year longitudinal study, conducted at the University of Kansas, examined the impact of Sesame Street on school readiness by tracking approximately 250 low-SES children from either age 2 to age 5 or from age 4 to age 7 (Wright &amp; Huston, 1995). The study took into account not only viewing of Sesame Street but viewing of all television, as well as nontelevision activities (e.g., reading, music, video games) and numerous contextual variables that have been found to affect academic achievement (e.g., parents' own level of education, native language, preschool attendance). At regular intervals over the 3 years, children were tested with a broad range of measures, including standard tests, such as the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test and Woodcock-Johnson Letter-Word Recognition Test. The results of the study indicated that preschool children who watched educational programs-and Sesame Street in particular-spent more time reading and engaged in educational activities. In addition, these children performed significantly better than their peers on age-appropriate standardized achievement tests of letter-word knowledge, mathematics skills, vocabulary size, and school readiness. These differences were consistent with earlier findings on the long-term impact of Sesame Street on children's learning of vocabulary (Rice, Huston, Truglio, &amp; Wright, 1990) and remained significant even after the effects of various moderator variables (e.g., parents' educational level, primary language spoken at home) were removed statistically. In addition, long-term effects were found when children subsequently entered school; for example, consistent with the earlier Bogatz and Ball (1971) data, teachers more often rated Sesame Street viewers as well adjusted to school.</p> <p>170</p> <p>FISCH, TRUGLIO, &amp; COLE</p> <p>A second study (Zill, Davies, &amp; Daly, 1994) was a correlational analysis of data from a national survey of the parents of approximately 10,000 children, originally collected for the U.S. Department of Education's National Household Education Survey in 1993. This analysis found that preschoolers who viewed Sesame Street were more likely to be able to recognize letters of the alphabet and tell connected stories when pretending to read. These effects were strongest among children from low-income families and held true even after the effects of other contributing factors (e.g., parental reading, preschool attendance, parental education) were removed statistically. In addition, when they subsequently entered first and second grade, children who had viewed Sesame Street as preschoolers were also more likely to be reading storybooks on their own and less likely to require remedial reading instruction. It is important...</p>