The Ready To Learn Initiative Research
Parents, teachers, and others who use Ready To Learn initiative shows and materials can be confident that the stories and characters they love offer more than simply entertainment. They are built on the best research available about how children learn. New Ready To Learn initiative shows in development focus on pre-reading and reading skills, using techniques proved successful by scientifically-based reading research (SBRR).
The Ready To Learn Initiative uses cutting-edge research in several ways:
- To understand how kids learn to read and how electronic media can help
- To test program concepts, character appeal, story lines and more—all to find out if kids like them and learn from them
- To learn what works and to share it with teachers, researchers, parents, and others
Top researchers from around the country are working with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ready to Learn Partnership to provide a reliable base of information about early literacy, the impact of poverty on school readiness, and the role of electronic media on learning for use by producers creating new kids’ shows. The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Education at the University of Michigan are key university partners in this effort. Pathways to Literacy Achievement for High Poverty Children – Ready To Learn Initiative Research Summit, a conference held in September 2006 at the University of Michigan, is a leading example of the way Ready To Learn initiative links high-quality research to program production.
What works? Research about programs in development focuses on the appeal of the show’s premise and characters and whether kids actually learn from the show when they watch it. A New York-based research firm, The Michael Cohen Group, and The Education Development Center, an evaluation firm based in Massachusetts, are testing and measuring what children are learning from Ready To Learn initiative programs in development.
Dissemination of research results can be useful to parents, educators, and other researchers. Sharing information about findings is ongoing and built into the outreach efforts of each Ready To Learn Initiative partner.
Learn more about the comprehensive research taking place about Ready To Learn programs and the initiative itself:
- The summative evaluation of PBS KIDS Island, conducted by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, found gains in several key literacy areas, especially in terms of phonological and phonemic awareness skills. Learn more about these encouraging findings for PBS KIDS Island.
- A PBS KIDS Study finds that mobile apps are a new source of learning. The study found that vocabulary improved as much as 31 percent in children ages three to seven who played with the popular MARTHA SPEAKS app, which was created by series producer WGBH. Read a press release about this study (PDF) conducted by Rockman et al.
- The explosive growth of mobile media is a current topic of discussion as parents, educators and scholars question whether young children should be using these devices. Learning: Is there an app for that?, a report released today by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with PBS KIDS Raising Readers and Hotspex is the first report to inform the debate based on a national survey of parents and scientific observation of children’s learning and interaction with mobile media.
- The Between the Lions Mississippi Literacy Initiative (PDF) shows substantial evidence of the success of Between the Lions in helping young children acquire early literacy skills. Read a fact sheet on the Between the Lions research (PDF) and the research press release (PDF).
- Finally, learn about the promising summative evaluation of the Ready To Learn Initiative with this executive summary. Read releases from the Educational Development Center (PDF) and CPB (PDF), and a statement from PBS.