WWC review of this study

Narrative Development in Bilingual Kindergarteners: Can Arthur Help?

Uchikoshi, Yuuko (2005). Developmental Psychology, v41 n3 p464-478. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ684977

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: September 2006

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
English language development outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Combined narrative measure

Arthur vs. Between the Lions


102 students





Total number of words

Arthur vs. Between the Lions


102 students





Mean clause length

Arthur vs. Between the Lions


102 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 100% English language learners

  • Female: 44%
    Male: 56%

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The study was conducted in six schools in a large urban district on the East Coast. Spanish-English classrooms (classrooms providing instruction in both languages) were selected, and all teachers were fluent in both languages. All children came from primarily Spanish-speaking homes and neighborhoods with heavy concentrations of Spanish-speaking people.

Study sample

The study involved 108 kindergarten students (47 girls and 61 boys). Fifty-one children were assigned to watch Arthur; 57 were assigned to watch Between the Lions. Picture Vocabulary Test scores indicated that, at the beginning of the intervention, participants’ average English vocabulary was at the three-year two-month age level of a monolingual English child. The Spanish version of this measure indicated that their native language vocabulary was at the five-year level; the average age of the children at the beginning of the study was 5 years, 7 months (boys) and 5 years, 6 months (girls). At least 80% of the students in the study qualified for free lunch. The time their families lived in the United States ranged from three months to seven years. According to parent survey responses, only 22% of the children in the sample were born outside of the country. These surveys also indicated that, on average, there were 21 books (in both English and Spanish) in the home, although there was wide variation on this number, ranging from zero to 300.

Intervention Group

The intervention group watched a 30-minute episode of Arthur at school, three times a week between October and May of one school year, for a total of 54 episodes. Although follow-up activities are available at the PBS website, teachers were directed only to show the videos.

Comparison Group

The comparison group watched the same number of episodes of Between the Lions over the same time period. Between the Lions is an educational television program with a focus on phonics and reading skills. Arthur focuses on narrative structure. As with the intervention group, none of the follow-up activities associated with the show were used. Each program in this show entails a story that a family of lions read together, focusing on phonological skills and the alphabet.

Outcome descriptions

The outcome measure in the study was an instrument used to assess children’s ability to tell a coherent story narrative, total number of words uttered by students, and the average length of the clauses used when describing a story.

Support for implementation

Little information about teacher training was provided, other than they were bilingual.


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