Maternal Participation and Scaffolding While Coviewing Educational Television
This dissertation study examined how mothers participated and scaffolded while watching an educational television program at home with their 3- to 5-year-old children; whether maternal participation and scaffolding predicted children's learning of vocabulary, sight words, and reading skills presented in the program; and reasons (i.e., maternal beliefs and program characteristics) for maternal participation and scaffolding. The study used a scaffolding lens to enrich our understanding of how parents can help their children learn from educational programs. Scaffolding has been used to conceptualize the guidance of an expert other to help children do a task or learn a concept that they could only do with assistance (Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976). Thirty-one mother-child dyads were observed in their homes watching an educational program. For analyses the program was divided into 70 segments, all worthy of participation. Each segment was analyzed for the types of content and formal features present. Children were assessed before and after the observation on a subset of the vocabulary, sight words, and reading skills presented in the program to determine whether children learned after watching the program with their mothers. All mothers completed a survey prior to the observation and answered follow-up questions after the observation. The survey was used to identify the scaffolding opportunities (i.e., the places in the program mothers could scaffold since they thought that their children did not know the target vocabulary, sight word, or reading skill) and to measure the beliefs mothers had about school readiness and educational television as a tool to learn. The follow-up questions were used to situate some of the findings. Field notes, video, and audio recordings were used to record the behaviors of the dyads. Mothers participated and scaffolded less than expected while coviewing. Children learned some of the target vocabulary, sight words, and reading skills. The amount of maternal participation when there were items and skills that mothers thought their children did not know and the amount of maternal scaffolding predicted children's learning of the target vocabulary and sight words but not children's learning of the target reading skills. There were probable relationships between some types of maternal participation and when the program segment had vocabulary and sight words; characters; tightening of the camera; or music. There were probable relationships between maternal scaffolding and when the program segment had vocabulary and sight words; text; and voiceovers. Neither belief that was measured (i.e., about school readiness and about educational television as a tool to learn) predicted the amount mothers participated or scaffolded. The findings of this work have implications for researchers, parents, and program designers since this study describes how mothers participated and scaffolded while coviewing; shows that parental participation while coviewing an educational program made a difference in what children learned; and suggests that a program with a strong academic content, having text on-screen, and the use of voiceovers, might relate with maternal scaffolding, which predicted children's learning.