Measuring Social and Emotional Content in Educational Television for Children

2012-12-14T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Claire G. Christensen
Rigorous measurement is vital to the exploration of educational children’s television and its effects on children’s social and emotional development. This study used the first and only rating instrument designed to assess social and emotional learning (SEL) content in educational/informational (E/I) children’s television episodes. Raters used the Social and Emotional Learning in Educational Children’s Television (SELECT) measure to assess episodes’ emphasis on six SEL skills and use of five pedagogical techniques. Three raters rated 80 episodes of E/I series for children under age 10. Results from multi-facet Rasch analyses indicated that the SELECT is psychometrically sound. We explored three key questions: (a) What SEL skills do episodes emphasize most strongly? (b) What pedagogical techniques do episodes use most frequently? and (c) What does social and emotional content in E/I programs look like? As predicted, episodes emphasized social skills and decision-making skills more than personal SEL skills. Episodes were also more likely to emphasize SEL skills by incorporating them into the narrative plotline than to provide direct instruction in SEL. While our sample of episodes included fewer SEL skills and pedagogical techniques than classroom-based SEL interventions might, they displayed a commitment to demonstrating SEL within the context of an entertaining narrative. We discuss the state of SEL content in E/I programming and provide recommendations for program producers.