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Volume 2, Issue 4 (1973)

Implications of Research on Disadvantaged Children and Cognitive-Training Programs for Educational Television

pp. 29—36

The Sesame Street program has highlighted the possibilities of using television for educational purposes. Evaluation of the effects of Sesame Street has indicated that television can help preschoolers to improve a variety of linguistic and cognitive skills. Bogartz & Ball (1970) conducted the Educational Testing Services evaluation of the program and reported that in its first season of 26 weeks, Sesame Street showed that television can be an effective medium for teaching 3- to 5-year-old children important simple facts and skills, e.g., recognizing and labeling letters and numerals, classifying, and sorting. The results indicated : (a) children who watched Sesame Street the most learned the most; (b) the skills most emphasized on the program were the best learned skills ; (c) although disadvantaged children started out with considerably lower achievement scores than advantaged children on the skills taught in the program, those who watched it a great deal surpassed in achievement the middle-class children who watched only a little. Thus viewing Sesame Street reduced the educational gap that usually separates advantaged and disadvantaged children. However, claims of efficacy have not gone unchallenged. Sprigle (1971) failed to find significant differences between children who watch Sesame Skeet as part of a nursery curriculum and a matched control nursery school group which did not; in fact, he suggested that the control group performed significantly better on the Metropolitan Readiness Test (1964).

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