Rosenfeld, D., Dominguez, X., Llorente, C., Pasnik, S., Moorthy, S., Hupert, N., Gerard, S., & Vidiksis, R. (2019). A curriculum supplement that integrates transmedia to promote early math learning: A randomized controlled trial of a PBS KIDS intervention. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 49, 241–253.
This study investigates whether and how the integration of technology and media improves early mathematics outcomes for low-income preschoolers. The study sample was 966 children and 137 teachers in 86 preschool classrooms in California and New York. Preschool classrooms were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a 10-week PBS KIDS Transmedia Math Supplement condition that supported teachers through an organized sequence of hands-on and digital mathematics activities; a Technology & Media condition that provided teachers with media resources out of context, or a Business-As-Usual (BAU) condition. The media resources were drawn from four PBS KIDS programs: Curious George, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, Sid the Science Kid, and Dinosaur Train. Children in the PBS KIDS Transmedia Math Supplement condition exhibited significantly higher scores on a researcher-developed measure of counting, number recognition and subitizing, shapes, and patterns than did children in the Technology & Media condition (1.43 points, effect size = 0.22, p < 0.001) and the BAU condition (1.51 points, effect size = 0.24, p < 0.001). Marginally significant effects for the same contrasts were found when analyzing the data collected using a standardized assessment of early math knowledge. Teachers in the PBS KIDS Transmedia Math Supplement condition generally implemented the Supplement as intended, and required less coaching support over the course of the study period. In contrast, teachers in the Media & Technology condition continued to use coaches with greater frequency throughout the study period, relying on them particularly for support with the mathematics and with the selection and integration of digital resources to match learning goals. Furthermore, teachers who enacted the PBS KIDS Transmedia Math Supplement significantly improved their beliefs about their own mathematics knowledge and the benefits of technology experiences for preschoolers.