Skip to main content

Adult-child interaction in children’s learning from “Sesame Street”


This study examined whether children’s learning from “Sesame Street” could be improved by having adults ask the children questions and provide them with feedback while they watched the show. Subjects were 23 three- and four-year-old, white, middle-class children who were randomly assigned to one of two conditions. Children in both conditions watched three specially edited versions of “Sesame Street” with an adult. While they did so, children in the experimental condition were asked to name the letters and numbers shown on the programs. Results indicated that 3 days after watching the last program, children in the experimental condition were better able to name and identify the letters and numbers they had seen (p < .01). Three features of the experimental treatment that may have contributed to these results are discussed, as are the implications of the findings.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Alwitt, L. F., Anderson, D. R., Lorch, E. P., & Levin, S. R. (1980). Preschool children’s visual attention to attributes of television.Human Communication Research, 7, 52–67.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson, D. R., & Levin, S. R. (1976). Young children’s attention to “Sesame Street”.Child Development, 47, 806–811.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ball, S., & Bogatz, G. A. (1970).The first year of Sesame Street: An Evaluation. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 047 823).

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, J. (1977).Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Filep, R. T., Millar, G. R., & Gillette, P. T. (1971).The Sesame mother project. El Segundo, CA: Institute For Educational Development. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 055 676).

    Google Scholar 

  • Kulhavy, R. W. (1977). Feedback in written instruction.Review of Educational Research, 47, 211–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lesser, G. S. (1974).Children and television: Lessons from Sesame Street. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lorch, E. P., Anderson, D. R., & Levin, S. R. (1979). The relationship of visual attention to children’s comprehension of television.Child Development, 50, 722–727.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Palmer, E. L. (1978, October).A pedagogical analysis of recurrent formats on Sesame Street and The Electric Company. Paper presented at the meeting of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters, Washington, DC.

  • Salomon, G. (1977). Effects of encouraging Israeli mothers to co-observe “Sesame Street” with their five-year olds.Child Development, 48, 1146–1151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schramm, W. (1972). What the research says. In W. Schramm(Ed.),Quality in instructional television (pp. 44–67). Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schramm, W. (1977).Big media, little media. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Reiser, R.A., Tessmer, M.A. & Phelps, P.C. Adult-child interaction in children’s learning from “Sesame Street”. ECTJ 32, 217–223 (1984).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Interaction Technique
  • Instructional Television
  • Sesame Street
  • Posttest Performance
  • Filler Segment