AIMS – Arthur Interactive Media Study
About the Study
As part of a three-year longitudinal, mixed method and multi-reporter project
funded by the John Templeton Foundation, IARYD has been working in collaboration
with the WGBH Educational Foundation, a leader in educational children’s media and
the producer of PBS’s Emmy award-winning ARTHUR series, to develop the Arthur
Interactive Media (AIM) program. The AIM program is a social, emotional, and
character development curriculum involving both digital interactive media and
cross-age peer mentoring targeting elementary school students. We have adapted
content from ARTHUR episodes and storylines to make them into digital interactive
features (comics and games) that promote five specific and interrelated topics:
empathy, honesty, forgiveness, generosity, and learning from others (intellectual humility).
Cross-age buddy pairs (1st and 4th graders; 2nd and 5th) read, play, and engage
with the interactive features, which contain various questions and prompts meant
to encourage rich conversations and reflections. The accompanying curriculum
centers around these topics and interactive features, and includes sessions
such as buddy training as well as relevant activities before and after the
sessions of the interactive features.
We are implementing and evaluating the AIM program in elementary schools
surrounding the Boston area this school year (2015-2016). Our theory of change
posits that the program will enhance students' social-emotional competencies
(e.g., empathy) and character virtues (e.g., generosity) as well as their
relationships (e.g., peer, teacher, and parent support) and related attitudes
and behaviors that reflect an improved classroom/school climate (e.g., reduced bullying).
To test whether children’s positive outcomes are a function of the social-emotional
and character content in the AIM program, we seek to compare them to children
participating in another WGBH Educational Foundation program – the Martha Speaks
Reading Buddies Program. This reading program also has media and buddy-pairing
components but focuses on promoting oral vocabulary and literacy in young children.
In addition, we will compare schools using either program to other schools operating
as usual, and we will use child as well as teacher- and parent-reports, along with
process evaluation measures constituting ongoing feedback, observations, and interviews,
to obtain a comprehensive assessment of children’s development as well as program
effectiveness within and across all schools.
Read the press
release announcing this new project.
Read a blog entry about the study on the Huffington Post by Dr.
Julie Dobrow, Director of Communications and Media Studies at Tufts
recent article about the Arthur interactive graphic novel "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh."
The Research Team
Lacey J. Hilliard
Richard M. Lerner
Tufts Team Members
Edmond P. Bowers, Clemson University
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