Exploring Time: Evaluation of Learning from the Television Program and Value-Add of a Companion Web Site

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Resource Type:
Summative | Research and Evaluation Instruments | Survey | Coding Schema | Evaluation Reports
Environment Type: 
Media and Technology, Broadcast Media, Websites, Mobile Apps, and Online Media
General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Education and learning science | General STEM | Nature of science
Rockman et al, Twin Cities Public Television

Rockman et al (REA) conducted an impact study of the educational, two-hour, television special, Exploring Time, and the value-add of its associated web site, www.exploringtime.org. The program's objective is to increase the public's understanding of change over time the multitude of changes that are occurring in the present, but at rates too slow or too fast to be seen. This evaluation explored the extent to which the programs and web site met this overall objective by looking at three impacts of the resources: (1) Comprehension of the program's content, (2) Knowledge and understanding gained from viewing Exploring Time content, and (3) Further actions and outcomes that emerged after engaging with Exploring Time. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, DVD-only or DVD-and-web. All participants completed identical pre and post surveys, as well as a follow-up survey. Participants in the DVD-and-web condition were also asked to freely explore the web site and view supplemental videos of their choosing. The focus of the study was to look at the learning that took place from viewing the videos and any additional learning that was gained by exploring and conducting tasks on the accompanying web site. Researchers did not look at specific reactions to the web site itself, but limited the evaluation to the value-add it provided to those who both watched the television program and explored the web site. In general, viewer responses indicate that Exploring Time met its educational objectives. The majority of viewers were more aware of longer/shorter timescales and more cognizant of timescales that may not have an immediate impact on their lives. More complex ideas, such as how events on one timescale affect other timescales, were grasped by a smaller proportion of viewers. After watching the video, a majority of participants discussed the program with others and approximately a third investigated topics presented in the program on their own. Although researchers found no differences in learning between the DVD-only and DVD-and-web conditions, further research is needed to explore the potential impact of having a companion web site. As this study indicates, the ways in which the content of one form of media can be enhanced by another are complex and deserve further study. The appendix of this report includes a scoring rubric and survey protocols.

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Saul RockmanEvaluator

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