Harvard University will be working with the creators of "Sesame Street" to establish a Center for Research in Children's Television at the University.
The University Center will supplement research on the effects of the visual media on children already being done by the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), which produces "Sesame Street" and "The Electric Company."
"Although the Workshop is a continuing research laboratory itself, our central role as a television research laboratory prevents us from conducting all the basic research studies that need to be done in this vital area," Joan G. Cooney, president of CTW said.
The Center, which will operate in conjunction with the Laboratory of Human Development at the School of Education, will have access to facilities at CTW studies in New York and WGBH in Boston as well as at the University.
Cooney said the Center will also contribute to the training of educational professionals. Samuel Y. Gibbon, Jr., executive producer of CTW's first educational series, "Sesame Street," has been appointed lecturer in Education and will be the Center's first "producer in residence."
Gerald Lesser, Bigelow Professor of Education and Development and chairman of CTW's board of advisors, said the Center will formalize a collaboration which has existed between many Harvard faculty and students and CTW since the Workshop's inception in 1968.
The Center has received $80,000 from the U.S. Office of Education and $75,000 from the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation. The money will support graduate and undergraduate students as well as some junior faculty members in their research.
Lesser said the Center presently plans to include four staff members, six to 12 faculty members, seven graduate students and two undergraduates.
Lesser said research will explore practical questions--such as what types of visual materials appeal to children, hold their attention and teach them effectively--and more theoretical areas--such as the mechanisms involved when youngsters imitate the behavior of TV characters.