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Structure and Strategies in Children’s Educational Television: The Roles of Program Type and Learning Strategies in Children’s Learning


  • This project was supported by two U.S. Department of Education (DOE) grants (H029D60040; H327A990082) and a third U.S. DOE cooperative agreement (U295A050003). Please note, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. DOE and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government. Portions of the research were presented at the annual meeting of the Office of Special Education Projects, U.S. DOE, Washington, DC, June 2002, and at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa, FL, April 2003. Special thanks to the staff and participants involved in this project including Dr. John C. Wright of the University of Texas at Austin who was a coinvestigator on this project until his death in 2001. We are indebted to his many contributions. His guidance and mentoring will be missed by all those who knew him or benefited from his scholarly brilliance.

concerning this article should be addressed to Deborah L. Linebarger, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Electronic mail may be sent to


Educational TV has been consistently linked to children’s learning. In this research, educational TV characteristics were identified, coded, and tested for their influence on children’s program-specific comprehension and vocabulary outcomes. Study 1 details a content analysis of TV features including a program’s macrostructure (i.e., narrative or expository) and learning strategies embedded in the macrostructure that support learning in print-based contexts. In Study 2, regression analyses were used to predict outcomes involving 71 second and third graders (average age = 7.63 years). Strategies were categorized as organizing, rehearsing, elaborating, or affective in function. Outcomes were uniformly higher for narrative macrostructures. Strategies used in narratives predicted relatively homogenous relations across outcomes, whereas strategies in expositories predicted quite heterogeneous relations across outcomes.