The Arthur Interactive Media Study: Initial Findings From a Cross-Age Peer Mentoring and Digital Media-Based Character Development Program


  • Edmond P. Bowers Clemson University
  • Lacey J. Hilliard Tufts University
  • Milena Batanova Tufts University
  • Danielle C. Stacey Tufts University
  • Jonathan M. Tirrell Tufts University
  • Katherine Wartella
  • Richard M. Lerner Tufts University



In the midst of increasing emphasis on the inclusion of character education in both school and out-of-school time programs, digital technologies have become ubiquitous in these settings. Based on the potential of these technologies to enhance children’s character development, the Arthur Interactive Media (AIM) study investigated if one specific unit or set of digital media-based activities engaged youth in discussions about character. First and second grade students were paired with 4th and 5th grade students, respectively, while engaging with an online interactive graphic novel (IGN) about a character-relevant story based on the Arthur cartoon series. Teachers (n = 8) completed surveys about the AIM Unit, and conversations between cross-age peer dyads (n = 27 dyads) during their engagement with the IGN were analyzed. Results indicated that teachers were very satisfied with the materials and reported that children were very engaged throughout. Analyses of children’s conversations indicated that children participated in character-relevant conversations involving humility, forgiveness, and future-mindedness while engaging with the IGN.


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