Alternative Assessment: Powerful Voices for Kids

Children’s Understanding of Audience and Purpose


We conducted exploratory research to determine how young children develop an understanding of concepts about the genres, purpose and target audiences for various types of television programs.

A sample of 25 children ages 5 – 12 participated in a study where they were asked to sort images representing a variety of contemporary television programs into categories.  Children did this activity twice, during the first and final weeks of the program. Researchers discovered statistically significant differences in children’s ability to use the concept of purpose (shows designed to inform, to entertain, or to persuade) and target audience (shows for children, teens, adults or grandparents). This study will be published in a scholarly journal in 2010.

This research is the first step in the development of alternative assessment methodologies. New forms of assessment are needed to understand how digital and media literacy activities support the development of children’s literacy and academic achievement.