I am sure everyone at some point in their childhood vividly remembers a television show, that they loved, and can still recall its importance and mark it left on you. I can remember growing up, and having PBS Kids and Disney Channel be the networks with the top shows I would watch. These television shows captivated me and entertained me while also teaching me something… or did they? Was I aware of the lesson being taught unless my mother or father stressed it? This raises the question: what makes a television show educational, and effective? I recently read a news post from the college of Vanderbilt, as they did a study to find if young children- specifically preschoolers learned anything from educational shows, and could regurgitate it back to their parents. Brasher, who is the author of this site had very interesting results.
“In a first-of-its-kind study, parents were trained to pause, ask questions and encourage the child to tell parts of the story while they watched educational videos together. When evaluated, the 3-year-olds whose parents used this simple technique—known as dialogic questioning—showed significant gains in vocabulary and comprehension over those who watched alone.” (Brasher)
Essentially after the four weeks parents spent with children, the results were that children in the dialogic questioning group actually scored much higher on story comprehension and expressive vocabulary than the other groups that didn’t ask questions or encourage the child to recount the show.
Thus saying researchers concluded that parent-led questioning offered a distinct advantage over the other methods, particularly allowing children to watch unsupervised. The results from the group using a dialogic actress were better than watching alone, though not as effective as the parental involvement.(Brasher)
I also upon exploring this study, watch the short video on how parents can actually help their children learn from television- which was quiet resounding and interesting.
I argue that this debate of ‘if educational television is actually beneficial’ all depends on how the parents apply and teach its lesson and skills to the child.