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A PUPPET OR A MAN? THE EFFECTS OF CHARACTER TYPE ON 4 AND 5 YEAR OLDS LEARNING FROM VIDEO PROGRAMS BY ELENA DEVI KORALLIS A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Michelle Barton Sarasota, Florida May 2013
A PUPPET OR A MAN? ii Acknowledgements First and foremost, I would like to thank Professor Michelle Barton, my thesis sponsor, for so much of her time and guidance through this year as well as for always finding ways to make the classes I had with her fun and interesting. I also want to thank t he other mem bers of my committee, Professor Heidi Harley and Professor Steven Graham for their advice and kindness over the past few years Furthermore, I am indebted to Professor Duff Cooper for his generous assistance with my statistical analyses and patience throughout my many meetings with him. Additionally, I would like to express thanks t o Nicole No ujaim for being my thesis buddy and Heather Harmon for aiding with data coding. I am grateful that Barbara Watson and Rev. Dr. Laurinda Hafner gave me permission to recruit participants from their organizations Rev. Dr. Hafner made the experimental process much easier by providing me with a space in which to perform my interviews. I am also incredibly thankful for the participants and their families I could never express enough appreciation for my mothe r Megan Smith, for all of her encouragement, ideas, care packages, and everything else over the years and m y sister, Kira Korallis for avoiding asking me how my work was going and talking to me about fun science projects from her class and whatever was on television instead. Finally I would like to thank all of my friends for their support and shared frustration but especially Alex Marques, who made my year bearable, as well as Alexis Sanchez, Emily Northrop, and Jehan Sinclair for their acting and puppeteering talents. In addition, I would like to show my gratitude for Emily, Lisa Anderson, and Aliana Wong f or muchneeded visits, letters exchanged, and recipes we still need to try.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? iii Table of Contents ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iii LIST OF TABLES v ABSTRACT vi INTRODUCTION 1 Childrens Exposure to Television 4 Imitation from Video Formats 6 Learning Skills for School 9 Vocabulary Acquisition and Literacy Skills 10 Math, Science, and Pro Social Behavior 19 Puppets as Teachers 22 The Current Study 27 METHOD 31 Participants and Location 31 M easures 32 Theory of mind 32 Pattern replication 33 Video 33 Attention measure 34 Procedure 35 RESULTS 37 DISCUSSION 39
A PUPPET OR A MAN? iv REFERENCES 46 TABLE 1 52 TABLE 2 53 TABLE 3 54 TABLE 4 55 APPENDIX A 56 APPENDIX B 57
A PUPPET OR A MAN? v List of Tables TABLE 1 : Frequency Distribution of Participants as a Function of Pre Test Pattern Replication Scores and Character Type TABLE 2: Frequency Distribution of Participants as a Function of Apology Generation Scores and Character Type TABLE 3: Frequency Distribution of Participants as a Function of During Video Apology Generation Scores and Post Video Apology Generation Scores TABLE 4 : Frequency Distribution of Participants as a Function of Apology Generation Scores and Theory of Mind Scores
A PUPPET OR A MAN? vi A PUPPET OR A MAN? THE EFFECTS OF CHARACTER TYPE ON 4 AND 5 YEAR OLDS LEARNING FROM VIDEO PROGRAMS Elena Devi Korallis New College of Florida 2013 ABSTRACT The current study explored whether different character types in a video program designed to educate 4 and 5year olds affects learning. Each child was randomly assigned to watch a video with human, puppet, or a combination of the character types. Before watching the video, each child was tested for theory of mind development and ability to replicate and continue ABAB and ABCABC patterns using blocks. During the video, the two characters, Alex and Jessie, built block towers using the same patterns. When Jessie accidentally knocked the tower down, Jessie asked the child what to do to make Alex feel better. The experimenter measured the childs ability to generate an apology. After the video, each child repeated the pattern replication task using different colored blocks and was asked what they would do if they broke their friends toy. The pre video pattern replication task resulted in a ceiling effect. The apology g eneration task showed that the children learned to apologize after watching the video regardless of character type. Theory of mind development did not predict ability to generate apologies. These findings provide parents with information about the programs their children watch on television. __________________________ Dr. Michelle Barton Division of Social Sciences
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 1 A Puppet or a Man? The Effects of Character Type O n 4and 5Year Olds Learning from Video Programs Every time 2 year old Lilly was supposed to eat, her parents, aunts, and grandmother all had a difficult time to get her to open her mouth no matter what the meal was. They could try feeding her pieces of a veggie burger, her favorite food, but she would not open her mouth. If the attempting adult ate a piece to show that it tasted good, Lilly would simply s tart feeding the adult and laugh. One day, Lilly and her two aunts were watching Lillys favorite television show, Yo Gabba Gabba! Brobee, a green, striped monster (an adult in full costume) with extremely long arms, started to sing a song with his food ab out the party in his tummy that all the food wanted to go to. It was an exceptionally catchy song and the aunts even liked it. Lilly loved the song sung by her favorite character and when her aunts sang the song later, she would flail her arms in the air l ike Brobee did during the chorus. When it was time for lunch, one aunt started off the song while sitting with Lilly so the other aunt could get the food together. Im gonna eat. Yeah! Party, party in my tummy. Yeah! Lilly started dancing in her seat. When the food came, the aunts sang the part of the song that the food sang and Lilly opened her mouth to eat like Brobee did. This worked for the entire meal and many of those that followed. Feeding Lilly became fun for everyone after that, especially for wa iters and nearby patrons in restaurants (Korallis, 2012). Brobee, a nonhuman television character, was able to accomplish in a song what Lillys family had been trying to do for a very long time. This character had a very strong
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 2 influence over Lilly. She is probably not the only child who was taught about eating from a television character, however. Cookie Monster, a puppet from a childrens television show, was thought to be a role model for children as well. Sesame Street has been careful with Cookie Monsters diet so that he sometimes reminds the young children watching to eat fruits and vegetables because You need balanced diet/Come on and try it! (Cerf & Stone, 1988). The show producers recognized that children watch these programs and can learn from what the characters are doing. In the case of Cookie Monster, he now teaches that cookies are a sometimes food (Kingsley et al., 2005). These influential characters are sometimes on screen with other puppets, but they interact with human characters othe r times. Lilly loves all of the monster characters in Yo Gabba Gabba! as well as DJ Lance, the human character that plays with the monsters, and the short clips of a child around the same age that wiggles around and says, My name is Jackson. I like to dance. The one part that Lilly gets fussy during is the cartoon portion of the show. She tries to fast forward it to the monsters and DJ Lance, whom she prefers (Korallis, 2012). The distinction here is an important one. It raises the question of whether pre ference for certain character types is related to what young children actually take away from educational television shows. Programs that are entirely cartoons, like Dora the Explorer for example, would not appeal to Lilly. Because they do not hold her at tention, she misses out on the education provided by those kinds of television shows. For Lilly, it seems a show without any animated characters would be best. For other children, there could be similar preferences. Educational television shows for childre n might not be reaching their audience in the way they would like to because of the character types employed in the program. Perhaps some show types can be more effective
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 3 than others for young children. For example, maybe children learn better from shows w ith a human playing opposite a puppet character. The current study proposes a look into character types and combinations in educational programs for young children because character type could be a major factor in childrens understanding of the material presented, whether it is about enjoying your food or that it is not nice to bite your friends. The c haracter types explored are non human puppets and humans because multiple childrens shows, including Sesame Street make use of these different types of char acters. The combinations tested are two humans, two puppets, or a human and a puppet. Again, Sesame Street is an example of a childrens program that uses a combination of characters, but spinoffs such as Play with Me Sesame and Elmos World consist large ly of puppets interacting with other puppets. The present research aims to answer whether human, puppet, or a combination of the characters makes a difference in childrens learning. The following research review will discuss how much television children w atch and how many programs are currently available for them to watch because television has greatly expanded since its invention and children like Lilly are raised watching it. Some of what children watch can be beneficial. First, studies demonstrate how y oung children are able to grasp that two dimensional images are understood as representations of the real world by testing the childrens ability to imitate from video programs. Then, the research diverges from tightly controlled lab studies and looks at t elevision programs that actually air on networks. These are compared to explore the different skills that young children can learn from television. Lastly, the use of puppets in teaching roles is
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 4 discussed to identify it as an acceptable alternative instru ctor to a human so that it might be further investigated in the current study. Childrens Exposure to Television Television for children has come a long way from what it once was. In the 1960s, The Nielsen Company reported that a few shows that were intended for families, like The Flintstones and Walt Disneys Wonderful World of Color made it into the top 20 shows r ated each year (TVIV Nielsen Ratings/Historic/Network Television by Season/1960s, 2009). All of the shows aired on CBS, NBC, or ABC for a general audience. The company did not break up the ratings into childrens demographics because they simply watched wh at little was offered. Years of development resulted in 29 networks and 1,324 programs designed just for children in 1999 (Woodward, 1999). The same report also stated that only 25% of those shows contained no enriching aspects and the highest quality programs aired on PBS, targeted toward preschoolers. By 2006, there were so many network and program options intended for children the Nielsen Company gave children ages 211, 611, and 914 their own demographic category (TVIV Nielsen Ratings/Childrens Television, 2011). The children watched Spongebob Squarepants Hannah Montana, and other shows on Nickelodeon, Disney, and Cartoon Network (TVIV Nielsen Ratings/Childrens Television, 2011). These were not shows intended for the general audience like The Addams Family they were made just for child audiences. The world of television is still expanding. According to the Nielsen Company, average American children (ages 2 11) spent 24 hours and 32 minutes watching traditional television per week in March 2013. The c ompany defines traditional television
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 5 as watching a program as it airs on a television set. The distinction has to be made because, nowadays, there are multiple ways to view a television program. Nielsen reported that children spent about 2 hours watching time shifted television (pre recorded on DVR or On Demand), about 2 hours watching a DVD/Blu Ray, and about 14 minutes watching video on the Internet per week. These multiple platforms make television content more accessible to children. Out of all that time in front of a television set or computer, how much time is dedicated to informative programming? Wright et al. (2001b) surveyed families with children ages 0 12 about their childrens media usage in 1997. Parents and older children recorded what media w ere being used (e.g., television or video games) in 24hour time use diaries. For television viewing, the researchers coded the content of the shows into 9 categories: educational, non educational cartoon, comedy, action, relationship drama, fantasy/supern atural, reality based, sports, and other. The educational shows intended to educate children rather than simply entertain regardless of other qualifiers (e.g., cartoon, drama, etc.). Wright et al. (2001b) found that, on average, 3 5year olds spent 828.63 minutes watching television per week. Their age group spent more time watching educational programming than the other groups, but spent more of their time watching noneducational cartoons. Some parents worry about how much television their children are w atching and there is slightly more concern when it comes to content of the programs, but most parents do not mind their children watching television (Carroll, 2006). Children do watch a lot of television, but, when a show or video is age appropriate and de signed to instruct, they can learn from it.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 6 Imitation from Video Formats To test childrens ability to learn from video formats, researchers created controlled environments with newly created videos so that the children participants had not seen them befor e. Testing with simple lab videos took away any possible confounding variables from a television show, such as the characters or narrative. Plenty of research has confirmed that children can imitate actions from a silent video demonstration. Hayne, Herbert and Simcock (2003) looked at whether there was a difference between t oddler s task imitation abilities when they saw a live or pre recorded video demonstration by an adult. A control group did not see a demonstration. The 24and 30monthold participant s were given materials to perform a 3 step task 24 hours after watching the demonstration. The tasks were to assemble either a rattle or an animal toy. The task type that they had did not affect performance. Although the 30monthold children had higher ra tes of imitation overall, both groups exhibited significantly higher abilities to complete the tasks in the video demonstration condition than the control group. The children in the live demonstration condition, however, performed best. The researchers rep licated the experiment and tested the children immediately after the demonstration rather than 24 hours later. They had similar results and suggested that, although toddler s can imitate what they see on a television, it is not as effective as observing som ething live. Unlike the videos created for the preceding study, present day shows on television and videos are not silent. Barr and Wyss (2008) incorporated language to test whether 24montholds imitation varied when watching a video demonstration with a voice over, coviewing a video with a parent who supplies information, or from a scripted live
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 7 demonstration by the parent. They were compared to a silent video demonstration and a control condition that did not see a demonstration. The rattle or animal a ssembled in the demonstration were named a meewa or thornby to control for preexisting vocabulary for the objects. All of the groups performed significantly better than the control group. There was still a slight video deficit, but the three conditions with words did better than the silent video condition. These results suggest ed that, when learning from a video format, it is more effective to have spoken words than only silence. Most television programs today have spoken dialogue or narration, which could thus be beneficial to childrens learning. Another aspect of television shows left out of the previous lab videos was the narrative. Simcock, Garrity, and Barr (2011) observed the differences in imitation between a full narrative storybook and a full narrative video. The task presented to the young children of about 2 years old was to (a) push the ball into the jar, (b) attach the stic k to the jar, and (c) shake the stick to make a noise (p. 1609). Both the video and book contained the same shots of the experimenter to make the presentations as identical as possible. Ten minutes after the presentation of the video or book, the experime nter sat in front of the child on the floor and placed the ball, stick, and jar within the childs reach. The experimenter said, You can use these things to make a rattle. Show me how to make a rattle (p. 1610). The child had 60 seconds to perform the full task. One point was given for each portion of the task completed within the short time period. The control group showed that these children at this age do not already know how to put a rattle together and performed significantly worse than those who had a media presentation. The participants who watched the video had greater imitation scores than those who read the
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 8 book. These full narrative videos were closer, in design, to television programs than prior lab videos. The results suggested that these type s of video are better for learning than an alternate format, such as storybooks. Brito, Barr, McIntyre, and Simcock (2012) replicated the imitation study and measured long term retention rates of 18 and 24 montholds. The toddlers were randomly assigned to a book, video, or control condition with the same materials created by Simcock et al. (2011). The difference in this study was that the researchers tested the childrens imitation ability 2 or 4 weeks after being exposed to the stimuli. In the demonstration session, experimenters visited the toddlers in their homes. The experimenters presented the material in the same way the previous study had. The demonstrations were repeated twice in the video and book conditions, whereas the control group had no exposure to a demonstration. The test session took place 2 or 4 weeks after the demons tration session. The researchers placed the three parts of the rattle in front of the toddlers and prompted them to create a rattle. The 18montholds in the book and video conditions remembered how to put the rattle together at the 2week test, but starte d to forget at the 4 week test. The 24month olds were also tested 8 weeks after the demonstration session. The results of the tests for both video and book conditions at 2 and 4 weeks showed significantly more evidence of retention compared to the test 8 weeks later. This suggests that the type of media that presents information to toddlers does not make a difference in retention rates. The video and storybook conditions were equally satisfactory for long term retention of the learned material. These resul ts support the idea that television can be used as an educational method even before 2 years of age.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 9 A similar experiment by Nielsen, Simcock, and Jenkins (2008) further tested 24montholds imitation when the demonstration models interacted differently w ith the child viewers. The three conditions all contained video demonstrations. One group saw an interactive video, where the experimenter talked to the children through a live recording and talked to the children about things specific to them (e.g., using their name, asking about their siblings, etc.). Children in the noninteractive condition saw the recording from the previous interactive session. This means that the child saw the experimenter using someone elses name and saying things possibly irreleva nt (e.g., specific information about siblings or pets). The last group was the baseline noninteractive condition. They all saw the same video that asked questions (e.g., Have you got a brother or sister?), paused, and then positively responded. There wa s no mention of name or gender in this video. The demonstration in these videos showed how to open some trick boxes. When given the boxes to open, the children in the interactive condition performed just as well as children in a live condition in a previous experiment. Both of the noninteractive groups performed lower on the task and were comparable to the video condition in the previous experiment, but still higher than children who did not see a demonstration. Nielsen et al. (2008) suggest that a video f ormat can be effective for modeling actions as long as it is socially engages the child. Learning Skills for School Programs on television are more complex than a narrative that describes assembling a rattle. There is character development, conflict, and r esolution. These complex narratives have the potential to teach more advanced skills than imitation. Researchers examined these advanced narratives and skill levels in child viewers (e.g.,
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 10 literacy, math, etc). Wright et al. (2001a) collected oral time use diaries from low to moderateincome families over the course of 3 years in the early 1990s. The oral time use diary consisted of phone calls to each family about every 2 months to ask about the childs activity from the day before. They recorded what pro grams were watched on television, for how long, and if they were doing anything else (e.g., eating lunch). The programs were coded into child audience and educational, child audience and uninformative cartoon, child audience and other, and general audience At the beginning of the study and at the end of each year, the 25year old children participants took standardized reading, math, receptive vocabulary, and school readiness tests. The researchers controlled for home environment quality and first languag e and found that young children who watched more educational programs intended for children had higher test scores overall than those who watched noninformative programs or shows for a general audience. This correlation could mean that higher scoring chil dren choose to watch more educational television or that children learn from them. Causality cannot be determined from this design, but it did show a relationship between high skill levels and educational television program s for children. Vocabulary Acquis ition and Literacy Skills. Different research designs have attempted to find causality, but have also had other methodological issues, such as not having a control group. Their findings, however still g i ve some insight to the skills learned from childrens television programs. The most commonly studied skills taught through television are language and reading. Krcmar, Grela, and Lin (2007) wanted to compare 15 24monthold childrens acquisition of new words when they interacted with an adult (joint referen ce), interacted with an adult but were distracted by another noise,
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 11 watched a video of an adult, or watched an edited and dubbed episode of the Teletubbies .1 1 Teletubbies contains puppet like characters that are adults in full costume. They do not speak much English, but babble instead as they play together during the show. There are no human characters except in occasional video clips. A video without words condition was also included to test that the children could understand the c hange from twodimensional to three dimensional objects. In each condition, the adult or character gave 5 different objects nonsense names. The experimenter then asked the participant to give a predetermined object (e.g., One of the toys was named doot a nd the experimenter said, Give me the doot). They found that participants gave the correct answers most often in the joint reference condition and the fewest in the Teletubbies condition. There were several problems with this methodology, however. In the joint reference condition, the objects were only named when the child was attending to it as opposed to the adult in the video or the Teletubbies naming the objects when they were playing with each and the child was merely observing. This discrepancy coul d explain why the children correctly identified the objects more often in the joint reference condition. The results also showed fewer correct scores in the Teletubbies condition than the adult in video condition. The two are not really comparable either, however. The adult in video condition was created for the purposes of the experiment with a human adult character sitting behind a table with the objects. The Teletubbies condition had nonhuman characters in an episode that the participants could have bee n previously exposed to but was edited down and dubbed over to fit the needs of the experiment. To properly compare the conditions, the content should differ in only one way. Despite these issues, this study shows that children could learn literacy skills from watching an adult in a lab created video.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 12 Another way to study vocabulary development is to observe it naturally. Rice, Huston, Truglio, and Wright (1990) looked at vocabulary development and Sesame Street viewing They recruited 3and 5year olds and studied their televisionwatching habits via parental diaries for 2 years. The diaries broke down the programs that the children watched by content type, like Wright et al. (2001b). Because the researchers were parti cularly interested in the effects Sesame Street had on vocabulary development, that show was recorded separately in the diaries. The researchers administered the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test to measure the childrens vocabulary levels when they first met each child as well as at the end of the 2 year study. They found that children who watched Sesame Street more often had higher increases in vocabulary development than those who watched other programming. These differences occurred without relation to fa mily size, gender, education level of the parents, or how the parents felt about television. These results suggest that Sesame Street at least at the time, was one of the more effective educational television shows on air. Although the study had pre test data and some controls, the correlation did not indicate that the children learned particular vocabulary from the shows. To do so, a res earch design would need to determine that the children do not know a word, expose them to it through a show, and then te st whether the children learned the word from the show. Not only can word acquisition be measured, but it is also possible to test difficulty of learning different types of words. Rice and Woodsmall (1988) tested 3and 5year olds on their ability to lear n different kinds of words from a short cartoon. The word types were objects, actions, attributes, and affective states (e.g., sad or helpful). The researchers thought that television might easily explain the first three because of the
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 13 ability to target a camera at that object, action, or attribute when describing it, but that it would be more difficult to convey an affective state. The experimental condition contained words that 3and 5year olds were not familiar with in a pilot test (e.g., gramophone) a nd the control condition had similar words that they were familiar with (e.g., record player). The participants took the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test Revised as well as a pretest on comprehension of the words to ensure there was no difference between t he experimental and control groups. The exact format of the pre test was not mentioned. After watching the videos, the participants in both groups were shown four pictures from the video for each of the experimental group words in the comprehension test and were asked to point to the one that best fit that word. The 5year olds did better on the post test than the 3 year olds, but they both learned object, action, and attribute words in the experimental condition. As predicted, the affective state words wer e more difficult for the participants to learn in a 15 minute program containing multiple types of words, suggesting that these are not concepts learned quickly and might need more time and focus to teach through television. The experiment did not compare these to a live or book lesson, so it cannot be said that the reason the children could not learn the words quickly was because of the television media, but it did show that certain types of words, such as objects, actions, and attributes, can be learned quickly from a short television program. Literacy is a similar skill that can be taught through the use of television. According to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Public Broadcasting Service (2011), part of the solution to raising literacy skil ls is public television. Th e Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) produced a supplemental package for preschool teachers in
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 14 recent years to teach literacy through ties with PBS television shows (Penuel et al., 2012). The media package included a variety of materials: video segments, full episodes, online games, and nondigital teacher led activities. Multiple classrooms received a media package intended for a literacy based intervention or a science based intervention (the comparison). The classrooms were rand omly assigned to each experimental condition. The students in all of the participating classrooms were pre tested for literacy development and story and print concepts (e.g., reading from left to right). The supplemental package was used over the course of 10 weeks in addition to the teachers literacy lesson plans already in place in the schools. The literacy based intervention packages contained content from the following programs: Sesame Street Between the Lions and SuperWhy! Teachers introduced topics in the classroom before playing video clips and engaged the preschoolers while they watched. The teachers and students then reflected on the content shown in the video immediately afterward. After an episode of SuperWhy! for example, the students wrote le tters to one of the characters in the show to reinforce what they learned. The sciencebased intervention classes used a similar PBS supplemental package that implemented content from other programs: Sid the Science Kid and Peep and the Big Wide World. The children in both conditions received lessons in literacy that are typically taught in the classroom at this age, but the groups differed by having an extended literacy or science curriculum. The experimenters conducted a post test for early literacy devel opment and story and print concepts at the end of the 10week period. There was a significant increase in these skills and concepts in the classrooms with the literacy based intervention, suggesting that these media packages were beneficial when supplement ing the teachers
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 15 lesson plans. Penuel et al. (2010) conducted a similar study comparing the same two classroom conditions, but looked at what was learned in the field of science. Although they did not have the same measures of learning, the study showed t hat children in the science based intervention classes spoke to their care giver more about science outside of school, suggesting that there was a higher level of interest in the field when in the science media rich environment. While neither study contains a classroom that contains media for both literacy and science (or other fields) or tests for them both, the research proposes that media, like television, can be used as an educational tool in classrooms. To make a stronger case for this argument, it would be necessary to test a control group that did not have a video supplement in the classroom, but this study did support the notion that literacy can be taught effectively by incorporating television shows (particularly those from PBS) into the classroom. One of the shows tested by Penuel et al. ( 2012) was Between the Lions ( BTL ) a series that focuses on teaching literacy. BTL is a television program for children ages 37 years old containing puppetry, animation, and live action elements (Jennings, Hooker, & Linebarger, 2009). The show is about two lions that work in a library with cubs that are the ages of the target audience. They all read animated books that are shown to the audience during the show. For the study, the researchers recruited four children ranging from 5 6 years old, although the article suggests they were in preschool. Observers watched each child for two hour s, twice a week for four weeks. At the beginning and end of the study, the researchers gave the children a variety of tasks to carry out, including sentence completion, letter sorting tasks, and rhyming activities. At least one of the four children was ide ntified by the parent as having a developmental delay. All four children
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 16 were initially at a literacy level appropriate for young children (birth to 3 years old). Three of the children could also form complete sentences, which is age appropriate for older children (3 to 6 years old). Towards the end of the study, all of the children were on an older child literacy level and two of them had picked up another skill appropriate for older children. The child with the developmental delay picked up a number of skills over the course of the four week period and was not hindered. The children were observed to connect classroom lessons to those of episodes of BTL they watched previously during the study (e.g., when the teacher taught the word zoo, a participant chi ld said that it started with the letter z like they learned in BTL ). Unfortunately, the participant sample size was extremely small and the results, thus, cannot be generalized to the general population as highly likely to beget similar results. The stud y also lacked a control group, which did not watch BTL For these children, however, there was an increase in literacy skills that were influenced by their exposure to the content in the show Linebarger, Kosanic, Greenwood, and Doku (2004) tested litera cy skills in 6 and 7year olds who watched BTL in their classroom for 3 months. Knowledge of content specific to the program was tested before and after watching BTL in 5 categories: speech to print matching, word recognition, concepts of print, word meaning, and word building. The researchers also tested individual reading skills using The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills assessment tool. A type of question from this test would be asking a child to break down the word sled. They could g et two points for breaking it down to sl and ed and four points for breaking it down to each letter. This test occurred before watching any episodes, after watching 8, and after watching all 17. The Test of Early Reading Ability 2 asked the child to identify capitalized letters and
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 17 mistakes in a sentence, as well as other similar tasks. Children in the viewing group watched 17 episodes of BTL in school over the course of 3 months and the children in the control group continued their normal lesson. The r esults of the tests showed that viewers word recognition and reading ability scores were higher than those of the control group. Their letter sound and phoneme identification skills also increased at a higher rate than those in the control group. Literacy skills increased in the 6 year olds only if they were not identified as at great risk from the literacy pre test. Overall, BTL seemed to have a beneficial impact on the viewers compared to the nonviewers. Other programs have been suggested to be effect ive in teaching literacy as well. Linebarger and Walker (2005) compared language development in children who watch various programs for children. Parents kept a log of the number of hours their young children watched television, the names of programs watched and how long and how often each program was watched. This log was coded into programs intended audience and program type. Some childrens programs, like Blues Clues Dora the Explorer, Arthur and Clifford were grouped together because of similar na rrative formats. The children were tested every 6 months for cognitive development using the Bayley Scale of Infant Development (2nd ed.), and vocabulary development was tested using the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory. The analyses showed th at watching Blues Clues Dora the Explorer, Arthur and/or Clifford related to larger vocabulary and higher expressive language scores, whereas participants that regularly watched Barney & Friends and Teletubbies knew fewer vocabulary words than participants who did not watch those shows. Other programs, such as Dragon Tales Sesame Street and Disney movies, showed no relation to vocabulary development. Watching Dragon Tales
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 18 however, was associated with greater vocabularies and higher expressive language scores than other shows. The researchers suggested that the shows with a storybooklike narrative are better for children to learn from because it keeps the child viewers interested and allows them to infer meani ngs to new vocabulary words through context clues. They also discussed that Sesame Street might not be reliable when compared to other literature. They noted that the format of the show changed to fit a more storybooklike nature after they collected data. Linebarger and Walker (2005) concluded that, overall, the children who had the highest levels of vocabulary development and expressive language scores watched shows that were framed like a storybook. Even though causality cannot be determined and a differ ent design would have to be employed to know for sure, the researchers believe that a program format with a strong narrative, visual and auditory representations of vocabulary words, and aesthetic appeal may support language development. The study shows that there is a relationship between storybooklike shows and high levels of vocabulary development and expressive language scores. Even with Englishlearners, television can help with skills such as narrative development. Uchikoshi (2005) tested 5year old Spanishspeakers story telling skills 3 times throughout a year. One group watched Arthur and the other watched BTL All 54 episodes were shown in the classroom during school hours. To test narrative skills, the experimenter showed each child 3 pictures a nd then asked them to tell a story in English. The stories were coded for story structure, number of main events, evaluation, temporality and reference, and storybook language. All of the childrens abilities to tell stories improved over the year, but the ones who watched Arthur improved at a significantly higher rate than the ones who watched BTL The researcher suggested that
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 19 Arthur helped the children with their narrative development because it focuses more on a narrative than BTL which focuses on the literacy skills measured in Linebarger et al. (2004). This study proposes that childrens educational television shows do not teach more than what they explicitly focus on. Math, Science, and Pro Social Behavior Although most research focuses on language a nd reading skills, there are shows that teach other skills. Baydar 7 years old) and their mothers to test the effects of BOM compared to other entertaining television programs that air at the same time. BOM is short for the full title that translates to Will You Play with Me? It is a television program designed by the Mother Child Education Foundation for children around the age of 5 from families with a low socioeconomic status in Turkey. The program focuses on cognitive development but also presents material on social, emotional, and physical development as well as environmental awareness through the use of puppets, music, animation, live action and more for children and also for their mothe rs. This study focused on the cognitive development aspects of the program. The experimental group was asked to watch BOM every weekday for 13 weeks. The control group was asked to watch an entertainment program that aired at the same time on a different network for 13 weeks. The researchers did not further describe the content of what the control group watched. A third group, the natural observation group, was told about BOM at the beginning of the study, but participants were not reminded of this information during the 13 weeks. All of the participants were assessed before any exposure to BOM to compare math and vocabulary levels as well as demographic information. The assessments looked at basic
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 20 arithmetic readiness (counting beans and answer ing how many there would be if x were taken away or added), categorization (grouping similar images), spatial analogies (matching modified shapes), syllabification (ability to break down words into syllables) and vocabulary (naming drawings). Throughout that 13 weeks, mothers in the experimental and control conditions completed interviews that ensured their children were watching BOM or not, respectively. The researchers relied on self reports from mothers in the natural observation group concerning how ofte n their child watched BOM. The children were assessed in the same areas from the pre test after 15 weeks. There were significant gains in the development of children in the experimental and natural observation group. If the child was able to watch BOM three or more times a week in the experimental or naturalistic group, they tested better than the control group in the basic arithmetic readiness, syllabification and vocabulary categories. Children who had low exposure to BOM (less than once a week) only scored higher than the control group in vocabulary. The findings imply that higher exposure results in higher scores than low exposure. The experiment, unfortunately, did not have a control group that did not watch a television program and, thus, cannot be compared to live education; however, it does show that children can learn skills like arithmetic readiness, syllabification, and vocabulary categories from a television format. BOM was able to teach math, but there are not many childrens educational shows that focus on teaching science. Through the use of interviews and surveys, Donovan and Venville (2012) collected information from 5th7th grade students in Australia about their average media usage, knowledge of genetics and DNA, and where the stude nts thought they learned about genetics and DNA. The students reported that
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 21 most of their knowledge of genetics and DNA came from watching television. The researchers compared the knowledge reported in the interviews to the types of shows that the particip ants watched. There were misconceptions on these topics (e.g., DNA is linked to crime and is used to find victims) which can be tied to the types of television shows the adolescents were watching and inadvertently learning from. Many of the students said t hat their favorite shows were Bones NCIS and Criminal Minds These crime shows mention genetics and DNA in the process of solving cases, but do not actively teach what genetics and DNA are. They are for entertainment rather than educational purposes. Nev ertheless, the interviews did imply that the adolescents learned from the shows, affirming that television can teach. Another subject taught in television shows is social skills. To test effects of pro social television on urban, poor childrens behavior, Friedrich Cofer, HustonStein, McBride Kipnis, Susman, and Clewett (1979) studied 25year old children from a Head Start program. The researchers observed and rated the childrens behavior in categories such as positive social interaction with peers, hos tile aggression, imaginative play, and more. The children then began to watch neutral films or prosocial films in the classroom for 8 weeks and were observed for that time. The neutral films provided information about things like the seasons and circuses, but did not focus on prosocial behavior. The pro social films condition watched pro social episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. The episodes selected focused on themes like sharing, learning to wait, and talking about ones feelings. There were three pro social conditions where the children just watched the episodes, had related play materials like puzzles, and had the related materials and a teacher training them to use rehearsal and role playing. The neutral films and prosocial
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 22 films only conditions did not significantly change the childrens behavior. The other two conditions showed higher levels of positive social interaction with peers, imaginative play, and assertiveness. FriedrichCofer et al. (1979) discussed that the program may have a better effect when it is viewed at home, as it was meant to be. Some of the parents reported that their children watched Mister Rogers Neighborhood at home, which could have had an effect from repeated viewing of episodes for those kids. The researchers concluded that additional attention to the content of the video was essential to learning pro social behaviors. The results suggest that children learn better when actively engaged with the content of a television show. This raises the question of whether or not interactive videos can achieve a similar level of engagement without additional adult involvement. Comparing this series to another with prosocial themes would strengthen the argument because, at the moment, the results only describe Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Puppets as Teachers The aforementioned studies looked at content effects of videos and educational television shows for children. Another aspect that varies across shows is character type. It is important to investigate whether different types of characters as teachers in tel evision shows lead to different learning scores, whether the children relate better to one type of character or it holds their attention longer. One common character type in childrens programs is puppets. Little research has been conducted in studying the ef fects of puppets as teachers through television, but some has explored how puppets can be used as teachers in real life, especially concerning social skills.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 23 Pitre, Stewart, Adams, Bedard, and Landry (2007) measured 3rd6th graders attitudes toward people with mental illnesses using the Opinions about Mental Illness Scale modified for children. Some of the participating schools were the control group and took the test again 2 weeks later with no other intervention occurring between the tests. In contrast, students in the experimental group watched 3 plays that contained puppet characters with schizophrenia, dementia, and anxiety/depression. Each character with a mental illness in the plays was related to or a friend of the main character, who explained to a friend or discovered what it means to have that mental illness. The experimental group took the post test the day after the plays were performed. Those participants in the puppet play group significantly changed their answ ers concerning separatism, restrictiveness, and stigmatization of people with a mental illness, whereas the control group answers did not change. These results suggest that puppets can be effective as teachers. It remains unknown whether learning would dif fer with other characters, such as humans. There are other recorded instances where puppets assisted in peoples understanding of social skills as well. In a casestudy, Gronna, Serna, Kennedy, and Prater (1999) looked at puppets as a proxy for humanto human communication for teaching interactions. A visually impaired, young girl learned social scripts using puppets. Before the study, the young girl did not approach other children during free play and did not initiate interaction when a child approached h er. Mostly, she was observed by herself or with an adult caretaker. For several months, a teacher met with the young girl and a group of preschoolers (not all of them had impairments) every day during school. The teacher demonstrated proper greetings using two nonhuman puppets talking to each
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 24 other at first. The goal of this intervention was for the students to learn how to greet each other, respond, and start conversations with each other. Once the children saw the puppets talk to one another with the teac her, they received a puppet with which to practice. The child spoke to the puppet and manipulated it to respond. Occasionally, the students got into two lines and engaged with the person and puppet across from them. Over the course of several months, the y oung girls social behavior improved greatly. She reached all of the benchmarks that the teacher set and she regularly approached other children a couple of times during free play. The progress shown by this young girl suggests that puppets can be less int imidating for children without average social behavior. The young girl watched the puppets interact while her teacher manipulated them and she then tried to recreate the conversation. She then applied the conversations to instances between her and another child. The researchers made it seem that the puppet buffer is what allowed the young girl to improve in her interactions with other people. The research lacks a comparison group, however, so future research is needed to infer causality. Ahlcrona (2012) use d a bumblebee puppet in a case study of a Swedish classroom of young children as an exploration of how the children would relate to a puppet in a classroom setting. Ahlcrona saw that the children became greatly attached to the puppets as evidenced by the children drawing pictures for the puppet. The children also showed that they understood the puppet was not real by talking to the experimenter about puppets in general. The researcher noted that a puppet can be used in preschool classrooms as an improvisational tool, where the puppet asks the child a question and they have to respond; they can also be used as a cause for individual conversations, where the child
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 25 begins a conversation because they want to know more about something that the puppet knows, like honey in this case; and they can be used as an inspiration for games, where the children use a puppet in pretend play or create a game based on the puppets movements. Ahlcrona suggested that puppets can be very useful tools in preschool classrooms to enga ge children. The study not only allowed the children to watch the puppet, but also to play with it themselves. Since they understood the concept of a puppet, the bumblebee brought about many conversations about how the 35year olds thought about the puppe ts perspective in different situations so they could act it out. Although this study touches on how a puppet can serve as a positive tool in the classroom, it is missing a comparison group that measures how children in a classroom without a puppet approac h things like other peoples perspectives. Puppets have also been used effectively in an emotionally charged situation when a human character could be problematic. They can even be used educate adults. In South Africa, an entire puppet cast performed a sho w called Puppets against AIDS (Skinner, Metcalf, Seager, & de Swardt, 1991). The type of puppets human or monster was not specified in the study. The show follows one puppet and his sexual relationships or contact with other puppets. At the end of the show, the puppet dies from AIDS. The show stressed the danger of the virus and disease, the process of spreading HIV and how to avoid it, and that people who have the disease need support from others. The researchers gave people a questionnaire before and af ter watching the show to determine the effects of the show. The questionnaire contained openended questions concerning the individuals attitudes and knowledge of HIV/AIDS and their past and future strategies to avoid contracting the disease. The post show questionnaire also had questions concerning
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 26 what aspects of the show they liked or disliked. The performance resulted in reports of a change of sexual behavior in audience members for, at least, the short term. The researchers explained that the performance used puppet characters because of the success of previous research of using them in medical situations with children as well as adults around the globe. The participants reported that, because of the intensity of the subject, the puppet characters lighten the mood and helped the audience enjoy the learning process. Many television shows intended for preschoolers use nonhuman characters to help teach the lesson. Sesame Street for example, uses animal, monster and human puppets as well as human actors i n their show. Only f ew studies, however, compare the human and nonhuman characters and their relation to the child audience. For example, Surbeck and Endsley (1979) used three separate videos for their study comparing childrens reactions to violence in te levision when portrayed by human actors or nonhuman puppets to determine whether children viewed the puppets as real in comparison to the human actors. Each participant watched all three videos, in varying order. The control group video contained a woman s inging childrens songs. The human violence condition contained a woman reading a violent version of the Three Billy Goats Gruff to a little girl. When the story was over, the woman told the girl that it was only a story and she should not be afraid. The woman then went to get water for the girl and got attacked and strangled by a hidden man upon her return. The episode ended with the man turning on the girl as she tried to call the police. The puppet violence condition used the same script but had a dog puppet for the woman, a white rabbit puppet for the little girl, and a snake puppet with big teeth for the attacker. While watching one of the videos, depending on
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 27 the condition they were randomly assigned to, the participants heart rates were measured to determine fear and anxiety caused by the episode. The experimenters reminded the participants twice that what they were watching was not real. The preschoolers in the study were very scared in the two violence conditions overall, but they were more afraid during the human violence video. The children reported that both the violent episodes were more entertaining than the song episode, suggesting that character type did not have a significant difference on liking. Although preschoolers did not get as scared in the puppet violence condition, they still got scared. Surbeck and Endsley (1979) suggested that the children knew the difference between human actors and puppets, but the puppets were still believable characters based on the heart rate levels during th is frightening video.2The Current Study Previously mentioned research has shown that children as young as 2 years old can imitate from very basic video formats and that some educational television shows, like Between the Lions have been linked with the positive learning of skills such as literacy. This research largely focused on comparing content and format of the programs. Little research specifically compares young childrens comprehension of material in television programs with different character types. Surbeck and Endsley (1979) is one of the only study that compares childrens reactions to human and puppet character types. They suggested that children recognize the difference between videos with human or puppet character s, but still found a violent video with puppet characters convincingly 2 Surbeck and Endsley (1979) used extreme methods to examine the effects of character types that are not endorsed by the author of the present study. Other ethical means can be used to determine a difference in childrens learning from multiple character types, as seen in the current study.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 28 frightening. The study did not have a third condition with a combination of character types to see if that would beget different results. It is important to look at the combination of c haracters because, although some young childrens programs such as Play with Me Sesame use mostly puppet characters, there are programs targeted toward young chil dren that contain human and nonhuman characters interacting, such as Sesame Street Other re search, like Gronna et al. (1999), suggest that puppets can be useful for teaching things like social skills, but these case studies do not have control groups without puppets to compare to. The current study looked at childrens acquisition of new concept s via educational video programming as a function of the type of characters presenting the information T he study compared performance and learning in three conditions: two human characters, two puppet characters, and one human and one puppet character. For the purposes of this study, three short videos were created to prevent any prior familiarity with the characters or storyline. The puppets were created for the same reason and resembled monsters rather than humans. The three videos were exactly the same except for the character types. This controlled for weaknesses in previous research that used correlational designs (e.g., Wright et al., 2001a; Wright et al., 2001b). The format of the show was linear and interactive, based on research of the effectivenes s of shows like Blues Clues (e.g., Linebarger & Walker, 2005). In the current study, 4 and 5year olds comprehension of a video program was hypothesized to be greatest with the video with a combination of human and puppet characters than either the puppet only or human only conditions. This hypothesis drew
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 29 from Surbeck and Endsley (1979), which suggested that human characters were more believable, but the children still had an appreciation for the puppet characters. In each of the videos created for thi s study, two characters demonstrated how to recreate a pattern of blocks and to apologize when one does something wrong, even if it was an accident. Tied with the apology task was a theory of mind task. Wellman, Fang, and Peterson (2011) define theory of m ind as the ability to take the perspective of someone else and understand how that person might perceive situations despite the persons own perceptions. This skill, generally developing in children of 45 years old (Mller, Liebermann Finestone, Carpendal e, Hammond, & Bibok, 2012), has been linked to childrens ability to comprehend stories. Welch Ross (1999) tested whether childrens memory of a story read aloud to them with accompanying images on a computer screen improved with a developed theory of mind. The children in the study were asked questions about the story a few minutes after they heard it and then a week later. They were also tested for theory of mind through several scenarios where a toy had a different point of view than their own. The quest ions about the story were misleading and the children with a developed theory of mind scored higher on the memory task. The relationship between the theory of mind and memory test scores suggest that children will remember targets in a story better and are not mislead by distracters when they have a more developed theory of mind. The current study tied theory of mind with apology generation to determine if this relationship carried over to a video format. Although WelchRoss (1999) did not specifically work with a television program, there are similarities. The story was read aloud to the child as they watch a corresponding picture appear on a screen. Linear stories on television shows, like the one created for the
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 30 present study, could possibly produce simil ar results because of these similarities. A story that incorporates a lesson into it, like apologizing when a friends toy gets broken, may be more likely to be understood by a child who has developed theory of mind as well. In the present study, the chil dren were asked theory of mind questions before watching the video. Level of development was compared with ability to generate apologies from given scenarios during and after watching the video, which taught that it is important to say sorry when something goes wrong, even if it was an accident. Based on the results of WelchRoss (1999), it was hypothesized that full development of theory of mind would be related to higher instances of apology generations when asked the first time and higher instances of im provement after watching the video. Another task was created to test the childrens ability to work with patterns. Baydar et al. (2008) found that it is possible to teach young children math readiness skills through a video format. The current study test ed pattern comprehension skills because, according to the 2011 Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards for 4Year Olds, young children are expected to learn how to r eplicate and continue ABAB patterns at the age of 4. A study by Papic and Mulligan (2005) tested 35year old childrens pattern recognition and comprehension in a regular preschool classroom and a classroom with a mathematics focused intervention that pro moted patterning. They suggested that their sample of 3 and 4year olds had some difficulty with this in a regular classroom, but had no problem in a math intervention classroom. This difference implies that young children have the capacity to learn how t o reconstruct patterns when taught how, but do not perform well without the lesson. In the current study, the researcher tested the childrens ability to recreate and continue an ABAB pattern. According to Papic and
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 31 Mulligan (2005), the children were expec ted to score low on this task without any lesson. The task extended to an ABCABC pattern for any advanced children since the sample contained 4and 5 year olds. They then watched the video, which taught this skill using two and then three colors of blocks After the video, the children completed the same task with different colored blocks to make sure they were learning the pattern concept rather than memorizing the pattern by color. The researcher hypothesized that children would perform better on the pat tern task after watching the video, following the results of Papic and Mulligan (2005). Method Participants and Location The current study tested 30 children recruited from the Sunday school program at a church and a childcare facility in south Florida. R ecruitment letters were sent home to parents/guardians of all age eligible students from the two locations. The letters described the basic purpose of the study; to research 4 and 5 year old childrens comprehension levels of age appropriate video material presented by different characters. Parents/guardians called or emailed the researcher if they were interested in allowing their child to participate. The mean age was 4.3 years old and the sample included 13 children identified as male and 17 as female. Only children that parents/guardians reported could see, hear, and were fluent in English were chosen to participate in the study. The children were randomly assigned to a human, puppet, or combination (one human and one puppet) video condition. Each chil d was tested individually. The experiment occurred in a Sunday school classroom with which most of the participants were familiar. The toys normally in the room were covered to avoid
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 32 distractions. There was a carpet and a television in the room that were k ept for the purposes of the study. Parents had the option to observe through a large window in the door. Measures Theory of mind. The current study replicated the theory of mind tests for preschoolers used in previous research (Mller et al., 2012). The children were introduced to an unknown toy character, Taylor, who acted as the person with the differing perspective. The two theory of mind tasks were always performed in the same order. The first task tested diverse desires. First, the children were shown a picture of an apple and a carrot and asked which they liked better. The opposite food from what each child indicated was said t o be Taylors favorite food (e.g., if the child preferred apples, Taylor preferred carrots). The experimenter then asked what Taylor would rather buy when she went to the grocery store. If the child said that T aylor would buy the food that she preferred rather than what the child preferred, he/she was correct and received one point. The second task tested diverse beliefs. The children saw a picture of a house with a garden. The experimenter explained that a cat was hiding either in the house or in the garde n and then asked the children where they thought it was. The children were then told that Taylor thought it was in the opposite location (e.g., if the child thought the cat hid in the house, the character thought the cat hid in the garden ). The experimenter asked where Taylor would go look for the cat first. If the child said that the toy character would look where it thought the cat was rather than where the child thought the cat was, he/she
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 33 got it right and received one point. If both questions were answe red correctly, meaning the child earned two out of two points, the child was assessed as well developed concerning theory of mind. Pattern replication. A pattern replication task was built from a pattern benchmark for 4year olds according to the Florida D epartment of Education (Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards for Four Year Olds, 2011). The experimenter showed the children a drawing of six blocks alternating in two colors (e.g., green, yellow, green, yellow, green, yellow). To make sure t he children could differentiate between the colors, they were asked which colors the blocks were. All 30 participants correctly identified the colors of all of the blocks used. The experimenter then asked the children to recreate the ABAB pattern using 10 of the same colored blocks. Once they had the six blocks in an order, the experimenter asked if the children knew which order the next two blocks should be placed and to demonstrate what they thought it should be. The children received one point for correc tly replicating the pattern and another point for correctly continuing it with the next two blocks. The experimenter then replaced the pattern with an ABCABC pattern that contained a new colored block (e g., yellow, purple, green, yellow, purple, green). T he children identified the new color and repeated the same procedure with four additional blocks of the new color. They received a point for pattern replication and another for continuation. The highest score possible on this task was four points. Video. T hree 4 minute videos were developed solely for the purposes of the study, as were the nonhuman puppet characters used in two of the videos. The three videos contained the same dialogue, actions, and camera angles but varied according to
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 34 character type (See Appendix A for photos of each character pair used). The videos were linear and interactive in style. They began with an introduction of two characters, Alex and Jessie, and a new set of blocks. The two characters built a tower by replicating an ABAB patte rn with yellow and green blocks. When Jessie knocked down the tall tower by accident, Alex got sad and Jessie walked away to talk directly to the child watching. Jessie asked the audience three things after accidentally knocking down the tower; what to do to make Alex feel better, if Jessie should say, Im sorry, and if the child thought that Alex would forgive Jessie. During this portion of the recording, the experimenter paused the video between questions to ensure that the children had time to respond to clearly demonstrate whether or not they could generate an apology. The experimenter recorded one point if the children said that Jessie should say sorry to Alex. The other two responses were recorded but not analyzed because the questions acted as inst ructions of what to do in that situation. After hearing from the audience and thinking about it, Jessie apologized to Alex and they started building a new tower using an ABCABC pattern with additional purple blocks. When they completed the tower, an off sc reen adult told them to clean up the blocks. They did and said goodbye. To read the full script, see Appendix B. Attention measure. A series of questions about the content the children saw in the video were created to determine whether they paid attention to it. The children received one point for each correct answer. The questions were: What were the names of the characters in the video? What was Alex playing with in the video? What was a color of one of the blocks that Alex had? Why did Alex get mad at Je ssie? When Alex and Jessie were finished playing, what did they do with the blocks?
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 35 Three or more correct answers were assessed as having paid attention to the video. Fewer correct answers would have later resulted in exclusion from analyses, however, none of the children received a score lower than three. Procedure At predetermined times, the parents/guardians and children arrived at the Sunday school classroom to individually participate in the study. The experimenter introduced herself to the parents/gua rdians and children. The parents/guardians signed consent forms indicating that the children were 4 or 5 years old, could hear, see, were fluent in English, and that the parents/guardians understood and agreed to the conditions of the study. The children w ere asked if they wanted to play some games with the experimenter and watch a video. They were explicitly told they could stop if they wanted to. The children who agreed went into the classroom one at a time with the experimenter. Parents/Guardians were as ked to wait in the hall or another room for the duration of the session, but were assured that they could observe the experiment through the large window in the door and stop it at any point without repercussions. Once in the classroom, the children sat down on the carpet facing the television with their back to the door so that they would not get distracted by anyone in the hallway. The experimenter began to video record the participant from a laptop integrated webcam for later coding purposes. The childr en and the experimenter sat on the carpet and the children completed the two theory of mind tasks; one tested diverse desires and the other tested diverse beliefs. After the theory of mind questions, the experimenter began the pattern replication task with green and yellow blocks for the ABAB pattern and later added purple blocks for the ABCABC pattern.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 36 The experimenter then put on a short video with human, puppet, or a combination of characters, depending in which the condition each child was placed. The colors of the blocks used in the video were green, yellow, and purple, reflecting the task the child just completed. In the rare occurrence that the children began to speak about anything that was not in response to a question posed by the video, they were encouraged to keep watching. Immediately following the video, the children answered five content questions to determine if they were paying attention while watching. The order of the last two post video tasks was counterbalanced evenly across conditions t o reduce the possibility of an effect that length of time after viewing the video could have. As a follow up to the theory of mind questions in the first interview and to see if there was a change in ability to generate an apology from during the video, the experimenter asked open ended questions about a scenario where the children broke their best friends favorite toy. Asking, What would you do? aimed to have them generate an apology, similar to what they saw from Jessie in the video. They received one point if they generated an apology. If the children did not generate an apology after that question, the experimenter asked them what they would say to the friend in that situation and their answer was recorded. The other post video task was another patter n replication. The children repeated the ABAB replication and continuation task, but with two differently colored blocks to work with (e.g., orange and blue instead of green and yellow). The added third block for the ABCABC pattern was also different (e.g. red instead of purple). The same guidelines for points were used as in the pre video test.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 37 Upon completion of the final task, the video recorder was turned off. The children were offered a small toy for participating. The experimenter took the children i nto the hallway to the parents/guardians and debriefed them, answered any questions they had, and thanked them for their time. Later, the experimenter and another researcher coded 100% of the apology generation questions during and after the video to label whether or not the child understood what to do in those situations. Answers using the word s orry were given one point and all other responses received zero. T o determine inter rater reliability, the total number of agreements was divided by the total number of observations. The percent agreement for apology generation both during the video and afterward was 96.7%. Results Pattern Replication A ceiling effect for pattern replication scores resulted in the inability to perform statistical analyses on the d ata (See Table 1). Sixteen out of the 30 participants received the highest possible score (4) on the pre test, leaving no room to improve after watching the video. Eleven of the remaining 14 children only performed one portion of the pattern replication ta sk incorrectly. This left only 3 participants who scored 2 or lower on this task. Apology Generation The participants apology generation scores in each character type condition for the first question (during the video) were compared to determine if the participants were on the same level when they began regardless of character type (See Table 2). The
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 38 number of participants who got the answer correct or incorrect in each condition only varied by 1 or 2, indicating they were similar to start out. The data i n Table 2 also compared frequency distributions of scores and character type conditions in the during and post video apology generation tasks. The number of participants in the post video test varied by 2 or 3 across conditions whether or not they gave a correct or incorrect response. The character type and apology generation score on the duringvideo task did not seem to predict scores on the post video apology generation task. T he raw data show ed a large change in apology generation scores from the first test to the second however See Table 3 for the frequency distribution of participants based on their scores. Out of 30 participants, 63.3% improved, 0% got worse, 20% gave the correct answer in both tests, and 16.7% gave an incorrect answer in both test s. A 2 c 2) Repeated Measures Change Test was used to determine whether there was a significant change in responses to the apology question after watching the video. The children significantly changed their answer to a correct one after c(1, N = 30) = 17.05, p < .01. Out of the 5 participants who did not generate say sorry in the post test when asked what they would do if they broke a friends toy, 4 of them did after the additional pro mpt, What would you say? This left only 1 participant who never generated an apology. A nonparametric rank sums test was conducted to determine whether or not a developed theory of mind predicted higher scores on the first apology generation task which w as asked by a character in the video. The analysis showed no significant
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 39 difference in apology generation if they had passed the theory of mind tests ( M = 16.07, SD = 15.32) than if they had not ( M = 14.17, SD = 15.32), Z = .75, p = .45. A Fishers Exact Test was used to determine whether there was a significant association between Theory of Mind Scores and Apology Generation Scores to see if a developed theory of mind could predict the ability to learn to apologize after watching the video. See Table 4 fo r the frequency distribution of participants as a function of these variables. Six participants were excluded because their scores were the highest possible for both of the tests over time, so 24 were included in the final analysis. Of the children who pas sed the theory of mind tests, 81% showed improvement in their apology generation scores, whereas 75% who failed the theory of mind tests showed improvement. The Fishers Exact Test showed no significant association between the variables, p = .37. Children who passed the theory of mind tests did not significantly differ on apology generation scores from those who failed. Discussion The results of the current study suggest that character type does not affect learning from video programming for 4 and 5 year old children. The apology generation task results suggest that children learn to apologize in a given situation simply from watching an educational video that highlights one character saying sorry to another. Although the children correctly generated apolo gies after watching the video, there was no significant difference in apology generation scores when the children saw human, puppet, or a combination of the two characters, implying that children can learn just as well from any of them. These results are s imilar to Surbeck and Endsley (1979), who found that children believed human and puppet characters in scary videos. The previous
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 40 research suggested that children did not believe the puppet characters as much as the human characters, however. If the lack of believability carried over in the current study, there was no evidence of its effects on learning. The previously unexplored option of a video with both a human and a puppet character was no different than the videos with only one type of character. The apology generation task was compared to a theory of mind task to discern whether children with a developed theory of mind would perform better than those without on a task where they had to think of someone elses feelings. Since theory of mind develops in preschool years (Mller et al., 2012; WelchRoss, 1999), this relationship would help educational show developers and writers target the correct age group for these types of lessons. The results for the apology generation task, however, did not reflect a relationship to theory of mind development. A possible explanation is that parents and teachers constantly remind children to apologize when they do something wrong or hurt someones feelings. Perhaps a child says sorry because it is an automatic response drilled into his/her head rather than understanding what the other person is going through. Future research could easily check this question by asking the participant what the other person feels before asking what the participant should do in that situation. In hindsight, another possibility for the great change in apology generation during and after the video could be due to the potentially misleading question posed during the video, What do you think I can do so Alex will feel better? Some responses included build the tower again and tell a joke. Although these are not apologies, they are potential ways to make Alex feel better. When Jessie followed up the open ended question with, Do you think I should say Im sorry? only two children said no. The
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 41 follow up question served as a teaching element so that the viewer would know what they should do. Despite the potentially ambiguous question, the children did demonstrate their ability to learn what was expected of them when asked, What would you do if you were playing with a friend and you broke their toy? after the video. Four of the 5 children who did not answer correctly on the post test did generate an apology when asked the follow up question: What would you say? It is interesting to consider t he impact of changing this one verb. Four out of 5 children understood what was being asked of them in the follow up question rather than the original question. It is possible that, even though adults intend the same thing with differently worded questions children interpret them very differently. Future research should consider this when designing questions for children and looking for correct and incorrect answers. A study or a pilot study could test question wording by conducting a within subjects desig n asking the child participants one question about what they learned and the n a similar question with different wording to see if their responses vary in any way. This would determine which wording is understood by the children as what the adult intended. The other task that tested whether or not there was a difference in learning from different character types was pattern replication. Due to the ceiling effect, no analyses were able to be performed. The standards from the Florida Department of Education su ggest that 4 year olds should learn basic pattern skills, so it is likely that the study would have obtained different results at the beginning of the school year rather than the middle, when they may have already covered basic patterns. Other kinds of pat terns using different shapes or objects could also increase the difficulty level of the task. A pilot study would weed out any problems such as this in future research. Baydar et al. (2008)
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 42 suggests that arithmetic related skills can be taught through repe ated viewings of a video format, and the current studys results for the apology generation task imply that there would be no difference in learning from human, puppet, or a combination of the characters. Based on these findings, it is likely that children would be able to learn to replicate and continue the pattern better after watching the video, like their improvement in the apology generation task. A factor that went unaccounted for in the current study was child preference of character type or combinat ion. As mentioned in the introduction, Lilly does not like cartoons and would not pay attention to a cartoon show. If participants had any outstanding preference for human or puppet characters in the current study, the results could have been affected. Int erviewing the children before the study could allow for controlling any affect of pre existing preferences. With th is methodology, there is still the concern that children learn better from live teachers than those in a video (Hayne et al., 2003; Barr & Wyss, 2008). The current study does not allow the video character types to be compared to live character types because there were no live character conditions. Despite a possible deficit when only learning from a video or television program, other researc h claims that videos as a supplement to live lessons in school are very beneficial for teaching new skills (Penuel et al., 2012; FriedrichCofer et al., 1979). These findings tie together the live and recorded teachers and do not seek to replace live, human teachers, but to use video and television to aid the learning process. Future research can further test character type by determining whether long term retention of video material differs with these character type combinations. If the children
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 43 remember l essons longer when they are taught by a human, that is knowledge that television programs would benefit from because they most likely want their viewers to remember what they learn to maximize educational impact. The only previous research comparing character types found that humans were more believable, but did not test content learning (Surbeck and Endsley, 1979). Further research can use a design similar to that of the current study (testing the ability to learn a skill across different character combina tions) and measure the childrens retention of that skill over a period of weeks or months while controlling for outside reinforcement by asking the parents/guardians to make note of when the children use that skill in school or at home. Another element to test would be learning from different character type combinations with and without multiple viewings of the same video clip. The current study only allowed the participants to watch the video once. In natural settings, children watch episodes, clips, and videos multiple times, so they have more time for learning a lesson. Also, in childrens educational television, lessons are repeated and taught in more than one way over the course of a 15 or 30minute episode. The videos created for the present study la sted only about 4 minutes, taught the ABAB and ABCABC patterns and apology generation once. With other tests that are conceptually more difficult for their age group, it is likely that children would get a better grasp on the material when it is repeated b ecause of the reinforcement of the material. Another study interested in character types could test whether there is a difference in learning from different types of character after repeated viewings of an episode Other ways to further test character typ e (including a combination) would be to include cartoons or computer animated characters. The show Blues Clues for example,
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 44 combines a live character with cartoon characters in a cartoon world. Animated characters may have different effects on learning t han puppet characters because they are created from drawings and are more abstract than a puppet, which can be touched. Many programs for children, like Dora the Explorer and Dragon Tales are animated and it is important to know if they are teaching what they aim to teach. Creating short episodes that differ in character type and/or quantity of ch aracters would be a good way to compare the effects of learning from cartoon characters as well. Child preference, again, could be a factor in childrens learning from cartoon characters, so the children should be interviewed about their likes and dislikes as a part of any pre test. All of these options are available to fill the gap in the research concerning the effects of character types on learning from childre ns educational television. Knowing which character types to include in a new childrens television program will help create more effective educational programming for young children. It can also aid parents as they decide which currently airing programs t hey want their children to watch based on educational value and expected level of comprehension of the material. Although results from the current study suggest that character type may not affect childrens learning when comparing humans and puppets, futur e research can control for other potential variables, such as retention over time and child preference. To completely understand whether character type affects learning, these character types would still have to be compared to cartoon and computer animated characters because they are so different and prevalent in childrens programming. Given some anecdotal evidence that child preference for one character type over another affects attention and the fact that Woodward (1999) reported that there were already 1,324 different programs designed
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 45 just for children 14 years ago, these different elements merit researchers attention to explore whether some television shows are teaching children more effectively than others.
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A PUPPET OR A MAN? 52 Table 1 Frequency Distribution of Participants as a Function of Pre Video Pattern Replication Scores and Character Type Character Type Pre Video Pattern Replication Score Total 1 2 3 4 Human 0 1 6 3 10 Combination 1 0 1 8 10 Puppet 0 1 4 5 10 Total 1 2 11 16 30 Note The highest possible pattern replication score of 4 was received when the participant performed all 4 measures of the task correctly. The lowest score possible was 0, for performing all of the measures incorrectly, but the lowest score received was 1.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 53 Table 2 Frequency Distribution of Participants as a Function of Apology Generation Scores and Character Type Character Type Apology Generation Score DuringVideo Post Video Correct Incorrect Correct Incorrect Human 1 9 8 2 Combination 2 8 10 0 Puppet 3 7 7 3
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 54 Table 3 Frequency Distribution of Participants as a Function of DuringVideo Apology Generation Scores and Post Video Apology Generation Scores DuringVideo Score Post Video Score Correct Incorrect Correct 6 0 Incorrect 19 5 Note Out of the 5 participants who answered incorrectly in the post test when asked what they would do if they broke a friends toy, 4 of them did after the additional prompt, What would you say? That left only one participant who di d not exhibit understanding of the concept.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 55 Table 4 Frequency Distribution of Participants as a Function of Apology Generation Scores and Theory of Mind Scores Theory of Mind Score Apology Generation Score Improved No Change Fail 6 2 Pass 13 3 Note N = 24. Participants passed the theory of mind test if they answered both of the questions correctly; otherwise, they failed. The participants improved if they answered the apology generation question correctly after watching the video but incorrectl y during the video. There was no change if the participants answered incorrectly during and after the video.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 56 Appendix A Images of Character Types Note Stills from each of the videos created for this study. The images show characters in the human, combination, and puppet conditions, respectively.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 57 Appendix B Video Script FADE IN: INT. PLAYROOM AFTERNOON ALEX is sitting at a table, playing with green and yellow blocks. ALEX (to camera) Hello, there! My name is Alex and I am playing with my favorite, new toy. Its this set of colored blocks! Whats your favorite toy? (pause) That sounds like a really fun toy. JESSIE walks in. JESSIE (to camera) Hello! (turns to Alex) Hello, Alex! How are you doing? ALEX Hi, Jessie! Im great. How are you? JESSIE Im good, thanks. What are you doing? ALEX We were just talking about our favorite toys because I just got this new set of colored blocks! JESSIE Wow! Thats so cool! Can I play with you?
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 58 ALEX Sure! I like sharing with my friends. JESSIE Thanks! ALEX You can help me build a tower. I want to build the tallest tower using this pattern of blocks. (pulls out a drawing of an alternating two-color pattern using the same colors that Alex is playing with) Lets count how many blocks are in this pattern. BOTH (pointing at each drawn block) One, two, three, four, five, six. ALEX And there are two colors. (points) Green JESSIE (Alex points) And yellow. ALEX Good. Lets get started. (to camera) Whats the first color? Alex and Jessie pause after each question to the audience. JESSIE Thats right. (points) The first color is green. ALEX (places a green block in the center) Whats the next color?
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 59 (pause and point to next drawn block) Thats right. The next color is yellow. (places yellow block on top of the first green one) JESSIE What color do we need next? ALEX Green. (places a green block on the tower) JESSIE And now, another yellow. (places a yellow block on the tower) ALEX Yeah! And after that, we need JESSIE Green! ALEX Another green. (places a green block on the tower) JESSIE Time for the last yellow one. As Jessie places the last yellow block on the tower, it falls over. ALEX (angrily) I cant believe you knocked down my tower! Jessie walks out of frame to another part of the room. CUT TO: INT. ANOTHER PART OF THE PLAYROOM AFTERNOON
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 60 JESSIE (to camera, sadly) Alex is really angry with me for knocking the over the tower, but I didnt do it on purpose. It fell by accident. What do you think I can do so Alex will feel better? (pause) Do you think I should say Im sorry? (pause) Do you think shell forgive me? (pause) Okay. I hope it works. Lets try it! CUT TO: INT. PLAYROOM AFTERNOON Jessie walks back over to Alex, who is still working on making a tower. JESSIE (CONT.) Alex, Im so sorry that I knocked down your tower. I did not do it on purpose. It fell because I couldnt reach it. ALEX Its okay. I forgive you. Why dont we try making a new tower? This time, we can use three colors. I have these purple blocks. (pulls over purple blocks from off-screen) JESSIE Okay. Cool! ALEX And we can use this pattern. (pulls a drawing of an alternating three-color pattern from offscreen)
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 61 Well start with yellow. (points to first block and puts a yellow block in the middle of the table) JESSIE (points) Whats the next color we need? Alex and Jessie pause after each question to the audience. ALEX Thats right! Purple! (places a purple block on the tower) JESSIE Now we need a green block. (places a green block on the tower) What color do we need next? BOTH Yellow! (Jessie places a yellow block on the tower) ALEX And after yellow comes JESSIE Purple. (places a purple block on the tower) And now (pause) green. (places a green block on the tower) Alex and Jessie admire the tower. JESSIE Wow! What a tall tower! ALEX Thanks for helping me build it, Jessie.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 62 (to camera) Thanks for your help, too! AUNT (O.S.) Alex, its time to clean up! Alex and Jessie look off-screen towards AUNT. ALEX That was my aunt. Will you help me clean up? JESSIE Of course, but how are we going to get the tower into the box? Its too big. ALEX Well have to knock it down. Do you want to help me? JESSIE Youre not going to get mad at me? ALEX No. JESSIE Okay! ALEX (to camera) Do you want to help us knock it down too? (pause) Great! On the count of three! One, (raises hands) two, (gets closer) three! (both push it over) JESSIE Yay! Now we can put the blocks away.
A PUPPET OR A MAN? 63 Alex and Jessie clean up the blocks. When they are finished, Aunt calls out to them again. AUNT (O.S.) All right, Jessies going to get picked up now. ALEX Were almost ready! Thanks for helping me put the blocks away. I cant wait till we can play with them again. JESSIE Me neither! Thank you for sharing your toys with me! ALEX Youre welcome. JESSIE Goodbye! ALEX See you tomorrow. Goodbye! JESSIE Bye! Jessie walks off to leave and Alex goes towards the voice they heard. CREDITS FADE OUT: THE END