Monday, June 8, 2015

Sesame Street MOOC: Some Results

Environmental & Science Education, MOOCs, Early Childhood
Edward Hessler

Bert and Ernie (2841396233)
By Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA (Bert & Ernie)
 [CC BY 2.0
 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Results of Sesame Street Study on School Readiness
A while back I posted a note about MOOCs--Massive Open On-Line Courses.  One obvious example (finally!) staring straight at me for many years escaped my notice: Sesame Street!

A press release from Wellesley College describes a study coauthored by economists Philip B. Levine (Wellesley College) and Melissa Kearney (University of Maryland) titled "Study Finds Sesame Street Improves School Readiness".  The study found:


  • The introduction of Sesame Street to America’s preschoolers helped a generation of kids do better in school. When the show first aired in 1969, five million children watched a typical episode—the preschool equivalent of a Super Bowl every day.


  • Boys and black, non-Hispanic children experienced the biggest improvements in school performance.
  • Effects are largest for children living in economically disadvantaged areas.
  • Sesame Street is one of the largest and most affordable early childhood interventions ever to take place.



  • Elementary students do better after watching Sesame Street
    A study by Educational Testing Service in the 1970s showed that Sesame Street improved pre-school test scores. The new study by Kearney and Levine now shows another effect: children who watched the episodes did better in elementary school once they got there. The authors note that the impact on later educational attainment as well as labor market outcomes is inconclusive.

    The Wellesley College press release provides a link to the full study, the complete press release, the Executive Summary by Melissa Kearney and Philip B. Levine, and a link to a talk by Professor Levine on the research and findings.

    There is a statue of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog in front of the Stamp Student Union at the University of Maryland (Henson's alma mater).

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