Meets WWC standards without reservations
Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.
English language learners
Free or reduced price lunch
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
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.
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.
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.
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.