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Recent Research

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We know that strong early learning experiences are critical for children’s well-being in school and throughout life, yet millions—particularly those in low-income communities—have limited or no access to quality early learning opportunities. In 1995, the U.S. Department of Education began funding the Ready To Learn Initiative (RTL), targeting preschool- and elementary-aged children in low-income communities. The goal was to promote school readiness through development and dissemination of high-quality children’s media targeting learning goals in early literacy, math, and science.

Since 2006, EDC’s Center for Children & Technology has worked in partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS, conducting research and evaluation studies to determine whether Ready To Learn’s public media resources are meeting their goals and how they can be improved to reach and serve all children.

Recent Publications

Early Science & Engineering: The Impact of "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!" on Learning

This study's goal was to understand the extent to which providing access to media resources focused on critical science and engineering concepts can help children living in low-income households learn. The resources examined were from the PBS KIDS multi-platform property The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Researchers found that exposure to these resources had meaningful impacts on 4- to 5-year-old children's physical science knowledge and their ability to engage with science and engineering practices.

PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science Evaluation Report

The PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science app was developed as part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Ready To Learn Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. This study explored the impact of the PBS KIDS Play & Learn Science app—when used in a supportive context—on children’s understanding of science concepts and their use of science and engineering practices; children’s use of science vocabulary; child and parent-child engagement in science and engineering; and parent confidence supporting their child's science learning.

What Parents Talk About When They Talk About Learning: A National Survey About Young Children and Science

This report presents the results of a first-of-its-kind national survey of parents, who were asked about the types of early science educational activities they do with their young children. It also includes a follow-up qualitative study, focused on low-income families, which sought to illuminate parents’ survey responses. The purpose of the study was to provide new insights on the ways in which parents help their young children learn, as well as new information on parents’ beliefs and practices related to early science learning and the use of learning media.

Getting Ready to Learn: Creating Effective, Educational Children's Media

Getting Ready to Learn (Routledge, 2018) describes how educational media have played and are continuing to play a role in meeting the learning needs of children, parents, and teachers. Based on years of research data from the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative, the book’s chapters cover the production, scholarly research, and technological advances surrounding public media and digital resources.