WGBH News and Media Relations

 

August 4, 2017

WGBH’s “Arthur Interactive Media (AIM) Buddy Project” Curriculum Helps Young Students Cope with Feelings

New research study focuses on how the Emmy award-winning series ARTHUR, interactive media and cross-age mentoring help young students build prosocial skills

(Boston, August 4, 2017) – Boston public broadcaster WGBH and Tufts University’s Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development have developed an innovative, media-rich classroom curriculum that new research shows stimulates social, emotional and character development in elementary school children. The Arthur Interactive Media (AIM) Buddy Program uses digital comics and games based on familiar characters and storylines from WGBH’s Emmy® and Peabody award-winning PBSKids series ARTHUR, and cross-grade mentoring, to encourage peer relationships, improve schoolwide climate and foster safe learning environments for elementary grade students.

“WGBH is a leader in making relevant and engaging multimedia resources available to educators and students,” said Terry Fitzpatrick, WGBH’s Vice President for Children’s Media and Education. “We are proud to continue that tradition with the AIM Buddy Project. Our team has seen first-hand that the AIM program helps students build the skills they need to think more critically and empathetically.”

AIM is a supplemental curriculum that can enhance existing social and emotional learning and character programs or be used as a stand-alone set of resources for educators. Five topics form the core of the AIM curriculum: empathy, honesty, forgiveness, generosity and learning from others. Each topic incorporates interactive media with embedded questions to encourage thoughtful discussions between buddy pairs. AIM also offers a comprehensive digital Educator’s Guide, planning videos and a range of other resources.

WGBH partnered with Tufts University to assess whether student participation in the AIM program would change students’ self-ratings of social, emotional and character-related attributes, as well as improve classroom climate. In the research study conducted over the 2015–2016 school year, the AIM supplemental curriculum demonstrated that embedding high-quality interactive media into classrooms, while using cross-age mentoring, can make a difference in a student’s ability to demonstrate character attributes such as empathy, honesty and forgiveness. The AIM study results show that students who participated in the AIM program were more likely to be able to deal with the complexities of difficult topics than were students who did not participate. These results were evident in students even six months after the AIM program intervention.

ARTHUR has helped kids deal with childhood issues and difficult emotions for twenty years, so bringing ARTHUR characters into the classroom was a natural extension of our mission to engage young learners,” said WGBH’s Carol Greenwald, ARTHUR Senior Executive Producer. “Participating in a character-focused buddy project helps establish positive peer relationships between older and younger kids and offers them a context to have meaningful conversations about issues that are sometimes complicated and hard to understand.”

“The ability to practice coping with difficult situations in a safe and structured environment is critical for children to develop healthy social and emotional skills, and AIM is proving to be an effective tool in that area,” said Dr. Richard Lerner, AIM Buddy Project Principal Investigator and Director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. “We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with WGBH on the AIM project and to the schools that provided valuable feedback for our research.”

The AIM Buddy Project: An ARTHUR Social, Emotional, and Character Development Curriculum is available at no cost on PBS LearningMedia: http://bit.ly/AIM-Buddy-Project

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Curious George and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and oversees Public Radio International (PRI). As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH supplies content to PBS LearningMedia, a national broadband service for teachers and students. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors. More info at www.wgbh.org.

About Arthur

Arthur, based on the best-selling books by Marc Brown, is television's longest-running children’s animated series. For over 20 seasons, Arthur has remained one of the highest-rated weekday children’s series on PBS among children 4–8. Arthur has won numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award, a BAFTA, and seven Daytime Emmys®-four for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program. Arthur is produced by WGBH Boston and Oasis Animation, Inc. Executive producers are Carol Greenwald (WGBH) and Marc Brown (Marc Brown Studios). Directed by Greg Bailey. Funding for Arthur is provided by public television viewers. Corporate funding is provided by ABC Mouse®. For more information, visit pbskids.org/arthur and follow Arthur on Facebook and Twitter.

About Tufts University

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

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Ellen London
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