on children. Several popular programs for children and youth, including 3-2-1 Contact, Bill Nye the Science Guy, The Magic School Bus, and Cro, have been shown to positively influence viewers’ knowledge of science (Strand 2) (Rockman Et Al, 1996; Fisch, 2007). Evaluations of adult programs have documented participants’ self-reported knowledge gains and self-reported influence on subsequent behavior. For example, a series of evaluations were conducted by Flagg (2000, 2005b) on two National Public Radio science programs: Science Friday, a call-in show, and Earth & Sky, a series of 90-second shorts. Listeners reported that they learned about science and scientific methods (Strands 3 and 4), sought out more information, and also spoke with peers about what they heard on the program. The studies of adults hint at science learning outcomes. However, as we have observed in other areas, there is no clear documentation or measurement of what participants learned, nor have the self-reports been triangulated with other measures.
Considerably less attention has been devoted to practices or the ways in which learners act in the world to advance their understanding of science. Studies of the Magic School Bus, for example, have examined children’s recall of how characters in the program learn. Evaluations of Bill Nye the Science Guy and Square One TV have looked at how viewers themselves use science and mathematical processes. A quasi-experimental study of the impact of Bill Nye the Science Guy found that viewers made more observations and more sophisticated classifications than nonviewers (Rockman Et Al, 1996). In this study, assessment materials (pre and post) were collected from a total of 1,350 children in schools, approximately 800 among the viewing group and 550 in comparison classrooms. The participants were recruited from three urban regions: Sacramento, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis. Results from the pre- and post-assessments showed that students who viewed the show were able to provide more complete and more complex explanations of scientific concepts than they were before viewing. Furthermore, in hands-on assessments, students who viewed the program regularly were better able to generate explanations and extensions of scientific ideas (Strand 2).
Several evaluations have examined the impact of radio programs on behavior, in which radio has been the mechanism for communicating public health messages in rural and developing areas. Public health-oriented radio programming typically takes the form of “entertainment-education,” integrating desired health messages (e.g., about water quality, safe sex) into ongoing soap opera-like dramas, shorts, or songs about family planning and safe sex. A group of studies show the wide reach of health radio programming, as well as a connection between the programs and family planning and other health behaviors (Kane et al., 1998; Piotrow et al., 1990; Piotrow, Kincaid, Rimon, and Rinehart, 1997; Singhal and Rogers, 1989, 1999; Valente et al., 1994, 1997; Valente, Poppe, and Merritt, 1996; Valente and Saba, 1998).
However, Sherry (1997) urges caution in interpreting these results. Sherry’s review of 17 entertainment-education studies from 8 developing