Roanoke College

1999 Virginia Public Television Instructional Television Survey


Virginia Public Television Instructional Television Survey—1999
Conducted by The Center for Community Research
Roanoke College
Dr. Harry L. Wilson, Director, Dr. Jacqui Keil, Associate Director
December 1999

Research Methodology
A group representing Educational Services at each of Virginia’s five public television stations--WBRA, WCVE, WHRO, WNVT, and WVPT—selected The Center for Community Research at Roanoke College to conduct a survey of media specialists and teachers throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The purposes of the survey were to ascertain patterns of usage of instructional television (ITV) in the schools and to learn how to facilitate increased usage. A mail survey was conducted because it was the easiest and most cost-efficient method of reaching each school.

The media specialist in each public school in the Commonwealth, a total of 1,989, was sent a questionnaire to complete regarding ITV usage in their school. Included in the mailing was an additional questionnaire to be distributed to a teacher of the media specialist’s choosing who uses instructional video in their class(es). The teachers selected were not necessarily representative of all teachers in the Commonwealth, although we can obtain a good estimation of overall teacher usage of instructional television from the media specialists’ survey.

The questionnaires were mailed by the PBS stations to the schools in their coverage areas. The stations avoided double-mailings to those schools that overlap coverage areas. Questionnaires were copied on the individual station’s letterhead, and they were returned to The Center for Community Research in a business-reply envelope included with the questionnaires. They were mailed in October, and a reminder was sent to those schools that had not responded by November. We received responses from 672 media specialists (34%) and from 586 (29%) teachers. If these were random samples, then the resulting margins of error would be + 3% for media specialists and + 4% for teachers.

This report contains a brief summary of the findings and tabulated data, including frequencies for each question and selected crosstabulated data. In the crosstabs, we have included comparison data for elementary, middle and high schools. A copy of the questionnaires is also appended to the report.

Media Specialists

Overall Results

Media specialists were asked to respond to a series of questions regarding usage of instructional television materials by teachers in their schools. Nearly 10% of those who responded said that their schools were not able to get an IVT signal. Of those who were able to get ITV, one-third (33%) said that fewer than one in four teachers use ITV, and 43% said that at least half of the teachers in their schools utilized ITV.

Although many schools have only limited or no access to the Internet (14%), 61% of media specialists reported that at least half of the teachers use the World Wide Web in their classes.

A strong majority (84%) also reported that at least three-fourths of the teachers use some type of video in their classes. One-third (35%) of the media specialists said that more than half of the video used by teachers was taken from ITV broadcasts provided by the local PBS station. (See Table 1).

Table 1

Percent of Teachers Utilizing Various Technologies

Percent of Teachers Using




ITV as Percent of Video





















Responses to the question “From what sources do your teachers record, borrow or purchase instructional video?” are summarized in Table 2. The most frequently cited sources were, not surprisingly, the school media center (95%), instructional television provided by the local PBS affiliate (85%), PBS general audience programs (63%), home video (54%), and the school division media center (52%).

Table 2

Sources of Instructional Video


% Schools Using Source

School Media Center


ITV (Local PBS station)


PBS General Audience Program


Home Video


School Division Media Center


Commercial Cable Channel


Commercial TV


VA Satellite Education Network


Other Satellite Service


Table 3 demonstrates the usage of video in different subject areas taught in the schools. The most heavy users are science (98%), history (91%), social sciences (86%), and health (73%).

Table 3

Subject Areas in Which Videos Are Used


% Usage





Social Science
















Library Information


Physical Education


Special Education


Technology Education


Foreign Language


Computer Literacy


Career Education


Work and Family Studies


Vocational Education


English as Second Language


School-level Differences

There were relatively few significant differences between the responses of media specialists at elementary, middle and high schools. Most of them concerned video usage in various subject areas, differences that most likely reflect that some subjects are more likely to be taught at a particular school level.

It appears that elementary school teachers use a higher percentage of video taken from ITV broadcasts provided by their local PBS station. Almost half (45%) of the elementary school media specialists reported that half or more of the videos used in their school were taken from ITV, compared with 29% of their counterparts in middle schools and only 21% of the high school media specialists.

Conversely, the percentage of teachers using general PBS programming, VSEN, commercial cable and commercial television as video sources increased significantly when one compares elementary, middle and high schools.


Overall Results

It should be noted again that the teacher sample is not representative of all teachers in the Commonwealth. Questionnaires were mailed to media specialists who were asked to select one teacher in their school who uses Instructional Television in the classroom. Only overall results are discussed below. There were almost no significant differences in the data comparing responses from teachers at various school levels, and those few distinctions fit no pattern.

More than one-third of the teachers who responded to the survey (34%) have been teaching for 21 years or longer. More than a quarter (28%) have 13-20 years of experience; 20% have been teaching between 8 and 12 years; and 16% have been teachers for 4-7 years. Only 4% have been teaching for three years or less.

More than half (54%) of the teachers who responded to the survey teach in elementary schools in the Commonwealth. Nearly one-fourth are in high schools (24%) and in middle schools (22%).

Nearly equal numbers of respondents teach Social Studies (55%), Science (55%), English (53%), Reading (48%), and Math (44%). Fewer teach History (34%), and significantly less teach Art/Music (9%) or a Foreign Language (3%).

Video Use, Availability, and Training
Almost half of the teachers (49%) reported using video in their classes once a week, and almost one-third (33%) said they use video two to three times per week. A majority of those teachers (50%) using video typically use videos 21 minutes or longer. Nearly as many (41%) use videos 11-20 minutes long, and 9% use videos 10 minutes or less in length.

More than two-thirds of the teachers (69%) use the Internet in their classes at least once per week, and 59% have their students use it in class. Six percent reported that there is no Internet access in their schools. Only 16% of the teachers reported using their local PBS affiliate’s web page to help identify instructional resources, but not all of the affiliates have web pages.

The most frequently cited hindrance to increased use of Instructional Television is the lack of time to preview taped programs (70%). Other obstacles noted by teachers were lack of program availability (25%), equipment availability/state of repair (22%), technical support (15%), availability of an ITV signal (14%), and administrative support of Instructional Television (9%).

Almost two-thirds of teachers (63%) reported that their source of training for the use of video in instruction was themselves. The second most common response was “no training” (10%). Fewer teachers cited school division in-service training (9%), school training (8%), college classes (5%), National Teacher Training Institute instruction (3%), and training from Public Television staff (3%).

The Effects of Video
Teachers were nearly unanimous in the belief that using video made them more effective teachers (61% strongly agreed; 38% agreed), and nearly as many thought that video helped them be more creative (49%; 45%).

Teachers also reported many benefits that accrue to students when video is used in the classroom. Nearly all (97%) felt that students comprehend and discuss the content and ideas presented in videos. Almost as many (96%) said that videos increase student motivation and enthusiasm for learning. Perhaps most important, 94% of teachers reported that students learn more when a video accompanies a lesson.

A strong majority (87%) of teachers said that students prefer lessons with video to those without video. Nearly identical numbers (85%) reported that students learn new vocabulary from videos.

More than three-fourths (81%) disagreed when asked if students’ attention spans decrease when video is used, and 77% said that student behavior improves when video is used. Finally, 74% disagreed that students have trouble connecting a video with lesson objectives.

How Video is Used
Teachers were asked how they use videos in their teaching. Nine in ten (90%) said they follow up a video with related activities or assignments, and 86% do prep work prior to showing the video. More than seven in 10 (72%) provide focus tasks for students.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of the teachers use excerpts from longer videos, and just as many (63%) leave some classroom lights on when using video. Almost as many (62%) pause the video frequently to discuss it with students.

Less than half of the respondents (48%) show the video uninterrupted and then ask questions, and only one-third (33%) have students complete worksheets while viewing the video.

Teachers were most likely to cite use as a supplement or lesson enhancement (79%) as the most important purpose of video, followed by use as a teaching tool (28%) and as a change to the usual teaching style (12%).

Video as an Effective Teaching Tool
Teachers were asked to judge the effectiveness of video as a teaching tool for a variety of groups of students. A majority of teachers rated video as very effective for most groups (economically disadvantaged—66%; typical or “average”—62%; learning disabled—61%; gifted and talented—59%). Fewer rated video as very effective for moderately or severely disabled students (38%) or those with limited proficiency in English (33%). Video was seen as at least somewhat effective by nearly all teachers with regard to the first group, and more than three-fourths thought that was also true for the disabled (84%) and limited English students (79%) as well.

PBS Teaching Resources
Respondents are more likely to utilize the Annual Instructional Television schedule and catalog (73%) than the monthly newsletter (48%), and only 11% reported using the individual stations’ websites.

The Teacher’s Guides for various ITV series are used by 81% of the responding teachers. Teachers are much more likely to get the guides in their school’s library or media center (74%) than from School Division Media Services (8%) or by ordering it themselves (7%). Almost all of the teachers who use the guides find them very useful (48%) or somewhat useful (52%).

Only 12% of the teachers have attended a National Teacher Training Institute workshop (50% in the past three years), but they almost unanimously found them to be very helpful (52%) or somewhat helpful (45%).

Video and Standards of Learning (SOL) Tests
Nearly nine in 10 (89%) of the teachers reported that they currently use instructional video the help cover material for the Standards of Learning tests.