Theses Doctoral

Choosing Their Own Adventure: The Impact of Storyline Choice in a Preschool Educational Cartoon on Narrative Comprehension and Learning

Young, Lauren Ashley

With the continued expansion in access to touchscreen devices, the question of whether such interactions are beneficial to the preschool user is increasingly important. Touchscreens allow for contingent responses from the viewer, a feature that is now utilized by the new modality of interactive television. This dissertation study investigates whether the addition of full interactivity to an educational cartoon facilitates narrative comprehension and learning of STEM-based curriculum.

Forty-seven 4- to 5- year-olds watched a researcher-developed cartoon about two characters who were learning about the concept of rotation in outer space. Same-gender and age matched pairs individually watched the cartoon and were assessed on measures of narrative comprehension and, after a two-week delay, on a measure of rotation knowledge learning. Participants in the active condition watched the cartoon with the ability to make 5 character decisions at different points throughout the video.

Those children in the passive condition saw the same path determined by their active pair, without any choice points. Results indicated that learning, as demonstrated on transfer items, was enhanced by the addition of choice, albeit no immediate gains in story understanding. The implications for interactive cartoons targeted to the age range in the context of differential access to family resources are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Cognitive Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Black, John B.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 27, 2022