Peg + Cat: Developing Preschoolers’ Early Math Skills

September 1st, 2015 - August 31st, 2018 | PROJECT

As part of its overall strategy to enhance learning in informal environments, the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program funds innovative resources for use in a variety of settings. This project will develop and research an integrated children's media and early childhood educator professional development strategy to prepare preschoolers with social-emotional skills that provide a foundation for later math learning success. The social-emotional skills include persistence, risk-taking, regulating anxieties, and collaborating to solve problems. Media components include Peg+Cat television episodes, videos, games and apps distributed through PBS broadcast and online. The integrated professional development model is designed to impact these educators' understanding of math and develop their skills for fostering in children a positive math mindset. Additional resources include a new Peg+Cat summer day camp at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. The project partners include a media company, The Fred Rogers Company; researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and St. Vincent College; and the evaluator, Rockman et al. This project is unique in its focus on integrating social-emotional skills with early math learning and educator skill development. It will fill an important niche in the research literature and has the potential to impact media practice which is undergoing significant change as new digital tools and technologies become available for learning. Both standardized and researcher-developed measures will be used to assess learning outcomes, including early childhood educators' attitudes and quality of instruction, as well as children's interest and engagement in math. The research design includes iterative data collection to inform the development and refinement of the professional learning for teachers. The mixed methods approach will include classroom observations, interviews and focus groups with educators, and parent questionnaires. Key questions include: does exposure to Peg+Cat positively relate to children's use of social-emotional skills during math learning activities? Does educators' exposure to the professional development training improve their attitudes and abilities to infuse math instruction with social-emotional skills? Does having an educator who received Peg+Cat training impact children's engagement and interest in math?

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Project Products
Poster - Peg + Cat: Adventures in Learning
Peg + Cat Digital Media Summative Evaluation: Preschool Family Study
Peg + Cat Digital Media Summative Evaluation: Early Childhood Educator Study

Team Members

Mallary Swartz, Principal Investigator, Fred Rogers Company
Junlei Li, Co-Principal Investigator, Saint Vincent College
Shannon Wanless, Co-Principal Investigator, University of Pittsburgh


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 1516446
Funding Amount: 2403735


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Museum | ISE Professionals | Pre-K Children (0-5)
Discipline: Education and learning science | Mathematics
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Broadcast Media | Informal | Formal Connections | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Programs | Professional Development | Conferences | Networks | Professional Development and Workshops | Public Programs | Summer and Extended Camps