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Tech Report  April 6, 2021

The Efficacy of Digital Media Resources in Improving Children’s Ability to Use Informational Text: An Evaluation of Molly of Denali from PBS KIDS

SRI Authors Claire Christensen, Sarah Nixon Gerard, Elisa Garcia



Kennedy, J. L., Christensen, C., Maxon, T., Gerard, S., Kook, J., Garcia, E., Hupert, N., Vahey, P., Pasnik, S. (in submission). The efficacy of digital media resources in improving children’s ability to use informational text: An evaluation of Molly of Denali from PBS KIDS. American Educational Research Journal


Informational text—oral or written text designed to inform—is essential to daily life and fundamental to literacy. Unfortunately, children typically have limited exposure to informational text. Two nine-week randomized controlled trials with a national sample of 263 first-graders examined whether free educational videos and digital games supported children’s ability to use informational text to answer real-world questions. Participants received data-enabled tablets and were randomly assigned to condition. Study 1 found significant positive intervention impacts on child outcomes; Study 2 replicated these findings. Combined analyses demonstrated primary impact on children’s ability to identify and use structural and graphical features of informational text. Results are discussed in the context of the scalability of educational media to support informational text learning.

A pre-print version of the manuscript submitted to the American Educational Research Journal is available on ResearchGate.

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