Using Educational Television to Enhance Young Children's Language and Vocabulary Skills
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop an intervention designed to enhance and accelerate the vocabulary and language acquisition of preschool children from backgrounds of poverty and risk for school difficulties. This modular intervention will be developed around a core of specifically selected themes and video segments from new and archival educational television programming from productions including Sesame Street, Martha Speaks, and Between the Lions. The ultimate goal of the project is to have a fully designed curricular and professional development package ready for testing in a randomized-controlled trial at the conclusion of the project period.
Project Activities: The research team is developing a 16-week modular intervention including all teacher and child materials, edited video content, and integrated activity lesson plans focused on explicit and interactive instruction of target vocabulary and language content. Associated workshop and in-class professional development materials, aligned fidelity-monitoring measures, and teacher feedback measures also will be developed.
Products: Products from this project include a language and literacy intervention for at-risk preschool children.
Setting: The research is being conducted in preschool centers serving high-poverty families, working within the structure of local preschool coalitions, state-supported prekindergarten classrooms, Head Start centers, and private childcare settings. Preschool classrooms will be located within the viewing zones of two public broadcasting affiliates.
Population: The population includes primarily 4-year-old children from lower income socioeconomic backgrounds attending state-supported, federally supported, and private preschool programs (ethnicity representative of the regional population of families living at or near the poverty level: i.e., at least 55% African American, 5% Hispanic; 40% Caucasian). The population also will include the early childhood educators serving children in these centers.
Intervention: The intervention includes 16 weekly modules focused on the explicit and interactive instruction of target vocabulary and language content. The intervention will be theme-based and will address important concepts for young children. A typical daily lesson (a 35-minute 4-part lesson) from the fully developed intervention will include vocabulary teaching time, viewing of a video, vocabulary post-viewing activities (1-2 activities), and shared story time/extension tips. The video content will be selected from archives of Sesame Street, Between the Lions and other relevant public broadcasting shows. Approximately 6-10 vocabulary words will be targeted within each week's lessons. The target vocabulary words will include nouns, verbs, and adjectives that are linked to the thematic content and the video selections. Initial pools of possible words for each theme will be selected using word lists (e.g., Dale Chall 3000 word list; Living Word Vocabulary List). Intervention materials will include all teacher and child materials, edited video content, and integrated activity lesson plans. Associated workshop and in-class professional development materials, aligned fidelity-monitoring measures, and teacher feedback measures also will be developed. The final products will include theme-based weekly lessons and a teacher professional development framework for implementing the intervention.
Research Designs and Methods: Methods include descriptive and correlational design studies incorporating, across the scope and sequence of the study, individual child assessments, teacher surveys, classroom observations, and semi-structured interviews with teachers.
Key Measures: Instruments include researcher-developed vocabulary assessments, observational fidelity measures, classroom and child observational measures, teacher questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews.
Data Analytic Strategy: The research team is using descriptive, correlational, and hierarchical linear modeling methods to investigate a series of formative and implementation-related research questions.
Journal article, monograph, or newsletter
Phillips, B.M., Piasta, S.B., Anthony, J.L., Lonigan, C.J., and Francis, D.J. (2012). IRTs of the ABCs: Children's Letter Name Acquisition. Journal of School Psychology, 50(4): 461–481.