child with dora 3

A new CcaM study shows that children who have a better understanding of stories learn more from educational television programs like Dora the Explorer. 

Decades of research have shown that educational television is effective, but there is less research to show which children are most likely to benefit from these programs.  Most educational television programs use a story-format to present their content.  As early as birth, many children are exposed to a variety of stories – both orally and in print.  Hearing and reading these stories is said to help children, over time, understand stories better.  This research asked whether this story  understanding might help children learn more from educational television. 

This study shows that this is indeed the case.  The stronger a child’s story understanding is, the more s/he was able to learn from an educational television program.  The stories we read and tell our children do more than help develop their literacy skills, they also help to maximize the potential of educational television. 

For this study, 172 American preschoolers (aged 3-5)  completed a two-visit study.  During the first visit, the children completed tasks to measure story understanding skills.  In the second first, the children watched an educational television program (Dora the Explorer) and then participated in tasks to measure their learning from the program.  

The study was conducted by Dr. Jessica Taylor Piotrowski, director of the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents and the Media

Click here to read the article “The Relationship Between Narrative Processing Demands and Young American Children’s Comprehension of Educational Television” in the Journal of Children and Media.

If you would like more information about this article, please contact the corresponding author – Jessica Taylor Piotrowski – via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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