Peg + Cat Digital Media Summative Evaluation: Preschool Family Study

October 25th, 2018 | EVALUATION

Peg + Cat is a popular broadcast television series, developed by The Fred Rogers Company and airing on PBS, in which a girl named Peg and her sidekick, Cat, solve everyday problems using mathematics, creativity, persistence, and humor. Peg + Cat: Developing Preschoolers’ Early Math Skills was a three-year project, funded by the National Science Foundation, that aimed to impact children’s interest and engagement with mathematics, as well as their development of positive social-emotional skills. The project supported early math learning via the creation of additional Peg + Cat episodes, online games and digital storybooks, a science center summer camp, and early  childhood educator professional development. This evaluation report focuses on the use and impact of three online games (Don’t Go Bananas, Symmetry Painter, and Music Maker) and three digital storybooks (The Big Dog Problem, The Election Problem, and The Perfect Ten Problem) by families with preschoolers.

Rockman et al, an independent educational research and evaluation company, conducted the summative evaluation study of the six Peg + Cat digital media resources with 31 families, comprised of one parent and one 4 or 5 year-old child. Participating parents were asked to complete pre- and post-interviews and surveys, and to fill out a journal tracking their children’s usage of the online games and digital storybooks over a one-week period. Children were asked to complete pre- and post-interviews. Families were randomly assigned to one of two conditions - Naturalistic and Guided. Parents in the Naturalistic Condition were told to use the six Peg + Cat digital media as they normally would, while parents in Guided Condition were told that one of the goals of the online games and digital storybooks was to support children’s social-emotional skill development, and that they should try to talk with their children about these topics while using the digital media.

Study findings suggest that exposure to rich digital media supported parents’ engagement with their children around technology in general, and math-related media specifically. Furthermore, the six online games and digital storybooks helped parents talk with their children about novel math concepts, and afforded additional opportunities to discuss positive social-emotional behaviors in the context of problem-solving.

Parents indicated that each type of digital media resource had a different role to play in supporting their children’s learning. The online games were more effective at scaffolding their children’s mathematics’ learning, interest and engagement, while the digital storybooks were more effective in supporting their children’s social-emotional skill development. Interestingly, children were able to demonstrate increased understanding of mathematical concepts and identify social-emotional skills that were present in both types of digital media resources.

Finally, this study supports the idea that making parents more aware of social-emotional learning opportunities within math-related digital media can change how they think about and approach these resources with their children. Families who participated in this study indicated that making the objectives of the online games and digital storybooks even more explicit would help them better support their preschool children’s social-emotional development during math activities. Thus, digital media designers are encouraged to more clearly state how these skills are embedded within the math resources that they create.



Team Members

Camellia Sanford-Dolly, Evaluator, Rockman et al
Mallary Swartz, Principal Investigator, Fred Rogers Productions


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1516446

Related URLs

Peg + Cat: Developing Preschoolers' Early Math Skills


Audience: Evaluators | Families | Learning Researchers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Parents | Caregivers | Pre-K Children (0-5)
Discipline: Education and learning science | Mathematics
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Media and Technology | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media