First-graders’ knowledge of algebraic thinking, as well as of numbers and operations, increased significantly when children, their families, and their teachers used digital and hands-on resources based on the PBS KIDS series ODD SQUAD, according to a recent study by WestEd — a nonprofit research and development agency that works to promote educational excellence and equity. Materials used in the classroom by teachers and participating children, and at home by children and their families, included ODD SQUAD television episodes, online games, video clips, and hands-on activities.
In the study, ODD SQUAD: Learning Math with PBS KIDS Transmedia Content at School and Home, WestEd researchers worked with four first-grade teachers and followed 83 first-graders and their families in school and home settings over four weeks. The intervention focused on two math concepts: algebraic thinking, and numbers and operations. Teachers used episodes from ODD SQUAD, along with related online games, short video clips, and hands-on activities, in their classroom instruction. As part of the intervention, students created ODD SQUAD team badges and were invited to enter the narrative world of the show and act out roles, working as a team to solve math problems. At home, parents were encouraged to watch an ODD SQUAD episode with their child, then discuss it and do an activity together about the math content in the episode.
Key findings include:
• Students were very motivated and worked hard to solve the math problems.
• Over the course of the ODD SQUAD intervention, students’ overall knowledge of algebraic thinking, and numbers and operations, increased significantly. Average assessment scores increased from 42.8 prior to the intervention to 48.7 afterwards.
• In sub-categories of mathematical knowledge, students showed significant and positive changes in the following domains:
• Skip counting: assessment scores rose from 10.92 to 13.61
• Pattern recognition: assessment scores rose from 9.49 to 10.12
• Simple addition and subtraction: assessment scores rose from 18.72 to 20.95
“The study results suggest that ODD SQUAD resources from PBS KIDS and the Ready To Learn initiative are supporting mathematics learning in the classroom and at home,” said Betsy McCarthy, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate of the STEM Program at WestEd and the study’s principal researcher.
The study was conducted on behalf of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and the PBS Ready To Learn initiative.
ODD SQUAD airs weekdays on SDPB TV. Check your local listings.