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Past Projects

Evaluation of WGBH Adolescent Literacy Media Resources (2009)

The ability of young people to discover ideas in and make meaning from written material using analysis, synthesis, organization, and evaluation skills—represents an enormous problem in the United States. Funded by the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, WGBH (www.wgbh.org) developed 15 self-paced lessons intended to enhance the literacy skills of struggling readers in grades 5-8. Each self-paced lesson used videos, interactive activities, note taking, reading, and writing to present students with an engaging science or history topic. Each lesson also addressed a range of literacy strategies, and included an accompanying teacher’s guide.

From January 2009 through August 2009, Hezel Associates conducted a seven-month evaluation of WGBH’s adolescent literacy media resources. Formative data were collected in order to determine how the resources could be improved, and become more user-friendly. Summative data were collected in order to help WGBH develop a more thorough understanding of the implementation and impact of the self-placed activities. Relying on a mixed-methods approach, this evaluation involved 165 students and 13 teachers from two states (New York and Vermont). The evaluation included districts with large populations of English Language Learners (ELL) and struggling readers. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews were used to collect data in each of the classrooms. Over three hundred student surveys were analyzed, quantitatively representing students. Roughly fifty students participated in focus groups, which were used to supplement survey data and provide deeper context. Student feedback proved very effective as WGBH began the next phase of self-paced lesson development.

This evaluation gave way to a more comprehensive nation-wide study conducted by Hezel Associates which helped determine the extent to which the self-paced lessons were successful in positively impacting students’ literacy skills.