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Five of the key dependent variables were measured at both the first and

second testing sessions: basic political knowledge, interest in the legis

lature, attitude toward the legislators, political efficacy, and reading

legislature news in the newspapers. The interrelationships among the experi

mental group change scores on these variables help determine intervening con

ditions which facilitate the impact of the program series on viewers. Below

are the correlations among the Tl - T2 gain scores for the 176 subjects exposed to the programs who completed all three questionnaires :

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These findings indicate that gains in interest and attitude play the

most important role in producing changes on the other variables. Speculative causal inferences will be discussed in the final portion of this report.

Self-Report Reactions to Program Viewing

After viewing the final video tape presentation of "Today in the Legislature," the experimental subjects completed a one-page evaluation sheet

which probed their reactions to the program series. Table 7 presents the

questions and distribution of responses.

Table 7

Experimental Group Self-Report Reactions to Program Tape Series

In general, did you find the programs dull or interesting?

dull
in between
interes ting

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(open ended)

In the shows, what things did you see that were most interesting?
What things that you saw were especially dull? (open ended)

Interesting Dull
18 year-old rights issue

32%

0 % other issues

17

16 debates, arguments

20

13
legis lative procedures
no response

58

13

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What kinds of things did you learn most about? (open ended)

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If you had a chance, would you like to see any more of these in school?

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Have you talked about these programs with anyone outside of school?

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N=284 students who viewed program tapes and completed post-experimental

evaluation forms.

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The students were not overly ench an ted with the television coverage of the legislature. Only 12% found the programs "interesting," while twice as many felt that the shows were "dull." The majority fell into the "in between" category. Nevertheless, three-fifths said they would like to watch more of the programs in school.

Predictably, the 18-year-old rights issue attracted the most interest.

The general debates and arguments were interesting to about one-fifth of the sample, but were identified as dull by one-eighth of the subjects. Almost

half cited the process of debate and argumentation as the element of the ser

ies that they "learned most about." Most students reported learning some

thing from the viewing experience: almost one-fourth felt that they "learned

a lot" and three-fifths selected the "learned a little" category. The series

stimulated three-fourths of the sample to discuss the programs outside of

school, mainly with parents and peers.

The key variable of program attractiveness (along the interesting-dull dimension) was subjected to more extensive analyses. Table 8 shows that

older students were more interested in the program series than younger stu

dents. Student characteristics such as race, sex, socio-economic status,

and scholastic ability had little impact on interest in the television tapes.

Subjects originally most interested in the legislature tended to find the

programs more interesting. No other antecedent factors (media use, discus

sion, attitudes, or knowledge ) were related to the interesting-dull evalu

ations.

Considering program attractiveness as an independent variable, Table 8

shows that subjects who found the series interesting increased their inter

est in the legislature itself. Favorable attitude change toward the

Table 8

Experimental Group Correlates of Post-Viewing Program Interest Ratings

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N=176 students who viewed program tapes and completed questionnaires at

all three sessions.

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sociations for talking with parents and talking with friends were stronger

than were the Tl correlations. Unexpectedly, interest value ratings were unrelated to subsequent home viewing of public television coverage of the legislature. In another surprising finding, those who found the programs dull learned virtually the same amount on the knowledge indices as subjects

who rated the programs as interesting.

SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION

Let us begin this concluding section by summarizing what appear to be the key findings in this study. The myriad and complex analyses in the preceding section support the following tentative generalizations:

Exposure to the television public affairs series in the classroom fa

cilitated-

1. Interest in the political system, an interest which emerged immediately after exposure to the series, and which persisted for an additional month, at least. This interest was found especially among the younger and black viewers. It increased among those with initially high

interest, among those who had more initial belief in the efficacy of the

political system, and among those who generally did more interpersonal

talking about politics. This accelerated level of political interest also

appeared to spur positive increments in other political socialization

variables.

2. with friends.

Interpersonal discussion about politics with parents and

Although somewhat more delayed in emerging, higher levels

of interpersonal political interaction persisted at the delayed test wave,

and were a clear effect of the series exposure. More political talking

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