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Measuring the Acquisition of Media-Literacy Skills

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Abstract and Figures

Students who participated in a required yearlong Grade 11 English media/communication course that incorporated extensive critical media analysis of print, audio, and visual texts were compared with students from a demographically matched group who received no instruction in critically analyzing media messages. A nonequivalent group's design examined students' reading comprehension, writing skills, critical reading, critical listening, and critical viewing skills for nonfiction informational messages. Results suggest that media literacy instruction improves students' ability to identify, main ideas in written, audio, and visual media. Statistically significant differences were also found for writing quantity and quality. Specific text analysis skills also improved, including the ability to identify the purpose, target audience, point of view, construction techniques used in media messages, and the ability to identify omitted information from a news media broadcast in written, audio, or visual formats.
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k.f
media-liteml
skills
* .l
Babson
Colege,
W\Nilesley,
Massaohusetts,
USA
xprindcd
conceptualzatinons
of
Iiteracy
have
proiiferatcd
thirouLghout
the
1
99Os
and
intto
thle
new
millennium.
Manxy
thinik
the definition
of
literacy
itself
is
in
a
height-
ueed
state
of
evolution,
and
work with
visual
media,
irxteractive
teehntologies,
and
the
expressive
arts
is
beginning
to
be
seen
in
parallel
with
the
skills
of
reading and
writing
(Tyner,
1
998).
Alphalbetic
literacy,
whliie
exceptionallyvaluale,
IS now
rcc-
ognized
as
oneof
the
Many
con
1
petencies
of
representition
needed
for
cultural
sue-
cess,
as
individuals
routinely
switch
between
speaking,
listening,
writfing,
reading,
viewing,
and
producing
syibolic
forms
to
share
mecan-ings
(Gkralt
995,
Hobbs,
1.
994).
Accoiding
to
Eisner
(I1999),
celash
of the
formss
§f
reprcseniarion
that
exist
in
outr
cul
ur--visual
formiis
ito
art,
auditors
fornms
inl
music,
qlianrtitadve
fornms
in
nathiesmatics,
propositm.i11
foEnis
in
scions
ce,
choreogr^aph-
ic
Forms
in
dance, poetic
formns
in
language-are
vwhicies
tbrough
whit
h
me
Lting
is
conceptual-
iand
and
expresse(l
.
yE)
Support
fior
expanding
the
concept
of
literacy
is
articulated
by those interested
In
making
classrooms
sites
for
authentic
learning
in
student-cente
red
enivirotiments
(1.uke,
1997;
Niastesrman,
1985)
as
well
as
those
who
see
thee
valuc
o
rCecognlizing
rea,ding
and
cwriting
as
practices
that
are
so6ally
ancd
cultulln.1y
constructed
(Alvermann
&
Hdagood,
2000;
Buckinghant
1998;
Nixot
&
Combber-,
2001).
Scholars
who
situate
literacy withini
the
contexts
of
cultune
and
chilcd
development
argLue
that
the
range
and
diversity
of
"texts"
used
in
the
classroom
niust
be
expanded
to
inGclede
artifacts
of
Popular culture.
These
scholars
identify
a
ranlge
of
potential
outcomes,
such
as
the
followi-ng:
(a)
to
increase
learning
by
m-aking
the
practices
of
literacv
relevantF
tO
stadents'
home
cultures
anid
waxs
of
knosving
(Bazalgetre,
Bevort:,
&
Savino,
1992h;
Ellsworth,
I997);
(1)
to
accoIIMmodate
diveise
lening
st-rkes
and
meet
the
tneeds
of
multicult.rai
learniers
(Cortes,
2000;
Scmali,
2000;
lohin,
20(00);
anel
(c)
to
develop
creativty,
self-expression,
teamwork,
and
work-
plaece
skills
(Brumnner
&
lilly.
1999;
C
onsidine
&C
Hacv,
11
999;
M/fastermnan,
1
9,85)
330
''A8$TRATS:
Students
WlhO
participated
in
a
required
yearlorg,
Gra t I
11
ingirsi
nedia/commnunication
course
tieat
incorporat-
ed
extensive
critical
nmedia
anr
tiesis
of
trilt,
audio.
ard
visual
texts
were
compared
witsl
studtents
from
a
demlo-
graphically
matrledc
group
whio
received
no
instructiorl
in
critieally
anairzing
media
messages.
A
nonequivakent
group's
design
examuined
students'
read'ing comn3rehension,
writing
skills,
.ritical
reading,
critical
listening.
and
crit-
i.a
1
viewintg
skills
for
nonfiction
informational
inessages,
Resulss
Siugest
that
msedia
literacy
instrLuction
iprovcs
student,'
ability
to
identify
n3tain
ideas
in
wrirtenr
audio,
and
visual
media. Statisticallv
significantt
differenices
were
a'rsc
found
for
writing
quantity
and
aluJ'kty.
Snecific
text
analysis
skills
aisri
improved)
including
thie
abilitr
tO
identify
thie
Purpose,
target
audience,
pOilnt
of
view,
constructrso
techniques
sed
in
media
meessages,
and the
abil-
ity
ti
identify
omnitted
informationi
from
a
news
media
broadcast
in
written,
audio, or
visual
formats.
trs
grupo
tie
onice
estudiantes
pa
ticipci
en
on
iurso
anual
tie
grad.s
11
sob
rInsedios v
comunicacion
to
ingles,
clue
incorroro
ur
exten'so
axiisis
ritnco
de
los
mnediss
ei,
textos
impresos
y
audiovisuales.
Este
grupo
se
cor'parf6
con
uni
grupo
demogrtficarerie
sinrniar
que
no
reciba6
instruct
i6n
en
analisis
critico
de
los
tl
rdios.
Mediante
tin
diseio
de gropos
no-equivialintes
se
exarrnilaron
la
compr
ensni
lectora,
las
'habilid,ades
de
escrtnra,
ta
leeura
critnica,
la
audici6n
cr.'ica
v
las
habilidades de
obsenaoci6rl
critica
de
inensajes
informativos
no
de
ficcirn.
i
os
resul-
tados
s
rgtinrer
ilue
la
instruccior
en
anaLisis criticso
de
los
medios
imejora
la
lialsildad
dc
[os
estUdialltes
para
iden-
ificar
ideas
principales en
seclios
impresos
o
audicvisoales.
Se
hallaron
tamrbicn
diferencias
estadifsticamente
sig-
niattvas
en
la
cantidad
calidad
de
la
produccidr.
escrita.
Asismisnio
inejoraron
ias
ilabilitlades sspecificas de
an.lisis
rextuaIl.
incluida
La
habtiidald
para
identrolcat
cl
prop6sito,
ra
audiencia,
cI
punto
tie vista,
las
tecnicas
de
tonstruceion
iusacias
en
los
netisajes
de
los
rnedios v
6
'hab)"lidad
para derectar
iniorriacion
ornitida
en
utia
trans-
tisurflr
de
niticias
eii
tormato
escrito
o
attdiovisual.
Elfte
Kacssc
SThiilei,
die
an
einerns
einjalhrigcn
Jliclhtfcth irt
Media-Engir
sch/Ketiimnsunikation- dci
1.
Klasse
teil-
nahnsen,
weLches
ausfihrliche
kritisclie Media
-Aniayse
von
Druck,
Audio
tiid
visue'lel
'I'exten
tensclHoih,
wur-
den
mit
Sciirlern
eiluer
denografisch
ebenrbirtigen
GXruppe
vergliclien,
die
keine Anweisungen
,au.
kriiscthen
AnaLysieren
von
Mediarnitreilhngetr
erhieLten.
Ein
nicit
equrivalenorer
Gruppenraster
untersuchltc Leseverstandn;s,
SthreibbefAhiginng,
kr
itisches
Lesen,
kritisches
Zuh6ren,
trnd
Fjlhigkziten
kritischer
Meinungsatifertring
bei
liformationer,
von
Tatsachet:berichten.
Die
largrbisse
laeni
dtasiasc.iiegen,
daRi
Medienrunterritlrt
ins
Sirceiben
ird
Lesern
die
Fahigiket der
Sciiileri
ZUoI
]rtenne'
wesentiiehier
Ideen
dei
snhrifitchenl,
audio-
und
visuelle
Medieri
verbessert.
Ehenfail's Landen
sich
statistisci
bedeutende
Unterschlede
beirn.
quantitativen
ind
qualitatiscn
Nicclersclreiben.
Bcstininste
Textanalyvse&higkekten
verbcssertt.r
sicti
gleichzeirtig,
einschhiellicih
der
Fahigkert
aus
der:
genouten
Mldilrnittceilmngen
Zwscck,
Zielzouhrerschaft,
Standpunkt,
Satz=/Sprtssllstruktioristsechnriken
zu
icLcntifizieren,
usnd
cL-c
FIlaigkeit,
unterdruckte
Inrformarionter
beim
Ausstr2hlerr
vini
NachrichlentnetLdia
in
schrirtlichen,
audits
oder
vis&ielten
Foriaten
zu icenrifizierers.
MTli
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a n:
pr6
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de
&tes
4
Terniniac
Njut
ava:eni
partic:pc
a
un
tOUrS
'u
an
sur
a
C
mlmuniation
criet
es
mI-
dias
el,
anugais,
sours
qui
compn•tait
line
anativ
U
itiqti
developpe
des
medias
erits,
audio
et
vdos
ads
A's
es
s/urn
groupe
apparin
sur
lv
platl Sociologique
ee
aiui
n'avait
pas
recu
d
emW
igotnetent
retatif
a
si'analyse cri
0415
des messages
t16livres
pau
les [
iedias.
sUn
plan
lli
groups
nlon
esnuixalctts
a
per.a
s
d
exam:rer
a
Cin-
preliension
en
lecture
des
eICv.es,
les
compttences en
ritutrec.
atoenr.e
assue.
ecvoute.
et
"Os
in
ilt
critiquqes
dc
liess"agcs
infionmatifs
norln
IctionnIels
Les
re6SUoas
suggteenrt
quun
enseignemsens
de,
la
li[ttratie
des
inetias
do
&O:DPve Ii
a
cipact
des
ek1E-eS
a
ider.titer
les
ides
princip.tles
dans
les
netis
Xnrsiadios
et
vid40s.
On
a
aussi
trousav
des
tift6renxes
*ig
sificatinxsdans
1e.criture
en
sqintit
gi
et
en
lualit
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Ont
Ct6
Cgalemenn
develhppces
dcs
Coonl
pe
coyIs
speCsfilqlpcs
a
1'analsse
£ges
Ec
xes,
1 otia
ment
la
capactse
a
identsaier
le
hot,.
l
public
viw.
,,
ie
polo'.
de
vu-,
Ies
tenLiqtpUs de
construc
ion
Uilisees
dwus les
niessages
des
mr)dias
et
la
capacilit
'
idetiifier
usce
insformatiosn
onise
par
une
chin
t,
qntelic
sot
vCrite,
audo
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332
Measuring
the
acquisition
of
media-literacy
skiUls
While
such approaches
to
literacy
appear
to
threaten
the
central
position
of
print
literacy
in
K
1i2
education,
sonme
literacy
educators
sCe
mucLh
to
gain
in
rejecting
the
rigid
hierarchie-s
that
position
the
printed
word
as
the
exclusive
form
for
the
repre-
sentation
of
knowledge
and
expression
in
the
class-
room.
In
a
review
of
the
field
of
teaching
literacy
throuLgh
the
visual
and
communicative
arts,
Flood,
Heath,
and
L
app (1
997)
emphasized
that
society
now
demands
the
ability to
engage
itn
thie
meaning-
mnaking
process
front
increasingly
complex
and
lay-
ered
combiniationis
of
messages
that
use
video,
audio,
and
print
representations.
They
also
pointed
out
that
visual
and
communication
arts
develop
students'
skills
of
self-presentation,
empathy-building,
collab-
orative
learniing,
and
the
ability
to
focus
on
several
things
at
once,
in
addition
to
th
e
motivational
bene-
fits
stemriming
from
classroom
activities
that
incorpo-
rate
the
visuial
and
electronic
media
arts.
While
visual
and
electronic
messages
are
now
central
aspects
of
contemporar-y
culture,
rhey
are
still
oft-en
ignored
or treated
superficially
in
the
class-
room.
Why?
There
are
a
number
of
reasons
worth
examining.
First,
literacv
educators
have
long
elevat-
ed
one form
of
literacy
over
others,
as
Goody
and
Watt
(19
88)
noted
about
the
long-subordinated
po-
sition
of
speakinig
and
listeiiing withini
the
curricu-
lum.
Second,
Flood
et
al.
(1997)
stated
that
teachiers'
"irrational
loyalty
to reading
and
writing"
(p.
xvi)
may
come from
thieir
fears
that
children's
media
use
displaces
their
use
of
print,
a
fear
that
is
not
well
supported
in
a
comprehensive
review
of
30
years
of
research
evidence
(Neuman,
1995).
There
is
a
third
reason
why
teachers
are
suspicious
of
expaniding
con-
ceptualizationis
of
literacy.
Some
pervasive
misuses
of
television
and
video
technologies
in
the
classroom
(when used
as
substitute
teaching,
to
fill
time,
to
re-
ward
good
behavior,
or
witliotut
clear
connection
to
the
curriculum)
are
loing-standing practices
in
K-
12
classroomis
(Hobbs,
1994;
Moody,
1999).
'T
he
nor-
malization
of
such
practices
in
somne
schools
may
create
a
negative
inicentive,
discouraging
rigorous
curriculum-based
experimentation
with
creative
in-
structional
approaches
using
television
and
video
(Lusted,
1991).
Finally,
the
film
studies approach
usedl
inI
teaching
film
as
literature,
which
1s
now
more
common
in
secondary
Eniglish
language
arts,
may
inculcate
the
view
that
such
work
is
not
for
the
generalist teacher
and
requires specialist
training,
further depressing
interest
levels
among
regular
class-
roomn
teachers
(Film
Education
Working Group,
1999;
Lusted,
1991).
In
general,
including
visual
and electronic
me-
dia
within
the
sphere
of
literacy
increases
the
com-
plexity
of
how
to
think
about
literacy
in
an
informa-
tion
age,
especially
because
a
range
of
different
aca-
demic
fields
are
contribtiting
to
these
initiatives
fror
their
separate
disciplinary
traditions.
In
an
era
of
in--
formation
overload,
these
new
ideas
provide
"eenougl
background
static
to
mnake
the
task
of
unifying
the
field
all
the
more
cumbersome"
(Tyner,
1998,
p.
67),
creating
a
laundry
list
of
concepts
and
approaches in
English
langU.age
arts
that
have
becotne
unwieldy
for
educators
in
the
classroom.
In
The
Rise
and
Ia/z
ofThEnglish,
Robert
Scholes
(1998)
recognized
this
problem
and
recommended
a
major
overhaul
in
the teaching
of
English
by
replac-
ing
the
canon
of
literary
texts
with
a
canon
of
con-
cepts,
precepts,
and
practices
for
investigating
the
meaning-making
process.
He
suggested
that
restoring
the
medieval
trivium
of
gramminar,
dialectic,
and
rhetoric
as
the center
posts
in
Eniglish edcication
will
help
students
"situate
theinselves
in
their
onvii
cutl-
ture
...
and
make the
basic processes
of
language
itself
intelligible
and
filly
available
for
use"
(p.
19).
Scholes
urged
that
English
language
arts
education
incorporate
a
wide
range
of
"texts"
including
filnm,
television,
advertisinig,
the
Internet, and
popular
me-
dia.
Aligned
with
this
suggestion,
Alvermann,
Moon,
and
Hagood
(1999)
emphasi7ed
the
development
of
students'
critical thin-king
skills
by
guiding
students
throtugh
a
process
of
learning
how
to
question
their
own
pleasures
in reading,
viewing,
and
listening.
Such
approaches
may enhance the acquisition
of
print
literacy
skills.
For
example,
Neuman
(1995)
pointed
out that
some
of
the
cognitive
skills
involvedl
in
reading,
including
inference
making
andl
visualiza-
tion,
may
be
enhanced
by
opportunities
for
explicit,
mnetacognitive
practice
with
the
use
of
video,
film,
or
other
nonprint
media.
An
increasing
number
of
cur-
riculumn
materials
for
middle
school
students
are
specifically
designed to
strengthen
reading
comrpre-
hension
skiHls
with
the
use
of
media-literacy
activities
(Center
for Media
Literacy,
2001).
Activities
that
emnploy
media-analysis
skills
in
t:he
context
of
lan-
guage
arts
instruction
may
help
students
internialize
analytic concepts
for
improving reading
conmprehen-
sion.
For
example,
analyzing
the
setting,
speech,
thoughts,
and
dialogue in
a
film
scene
mnay
help
stu-
dents
uncderstand,
identify,
and
evaluate
those
ele-
ments
of
character
development
in
literature.
Particularly
for
struggling
or reluctant
readers,
op-
portunities
to
analyze
media
texts
may
help
internal-
ize
understanding
of
concepts
like
genre,
point
of
view,
and
tone,
such
work
may
improvc
visualization
and
inference-making
skills
needed for
skillful
read-
ing
(Hobbs,
2001).
Along
with
a
smnall
but
growing
number
of
literacy
educators,
both
Neuman
and
333
334
Realing Research
Qix;
H{obbs
argued
that
synergistic
approaches
thlat
use
both
print
and
noorinprnt
ccrnniufiication
ftruiis
in
the
classroomn
must
replace
competition.
between
them as
literacy
edulcators
begin
to
explore
neiw
ways
of
using
the expanded
multimedia
environmernt
to
enrich the
lives
of
children
aJd
youth.
urrent
approaches
to
eia-
literacy
eduction
Nledia
itteracyB
defi
nei
genierally
as
"the
ability
to
access,
analyze,
evaluate
and
eommunicate
ries-
sag
es
in
a
wide
variety of
fornmis'
(Aufiderheide
&
Firestone, 1993)
enmphasizes
the
skills
of
analyzing.
evaluating,
and
creating
media and
technology
mres-
sages
tLat
make
use
of
languiage,
nmoving
imnages,
ml1usic,
sound
effects,
and
other techniques
(Mkasteraman,
1985; Messaris,
1994).
In
assessing
the
growth
of
nultiliteracies,
'Ivner
(1998)
distinguished
betwveen
tlose
tllat
emllphlasizC
tool
use
(Lechnoiogy
literacy
computer
literacy,
network
literacy)
and
tClose
that
are
essentially
lite-acies
o:f
reptresentationI
(information
literacy.
visual
literacy,
atid
mnedia
liter-
a'cy).
Of
the latter
three,
imedia
literacy
has
the
mnost
established
conceptual
base
as
a
restdlt
o'
years
of
iEn-
ternational
practice
ini
for
mal
edlucational
settings.
Drawing
upon
a
25-year
traditioen
in
the
U-nited
Kingdomi,
Canada,
and
Australia
(for
review
see
Alvarado
&
Boyel-Barrett,
1992')1,
there
has
becn
substantial
progress
in
the
United
States
as
a
coa-
1
i-
tion
of
educaro-s
has
tormed
a
national
association
and
held
annual
coinferen-sces
(Rogoiv,
2001).
There
has
been
iincreasiOg
niomlentunt
to include
miedia-
literacy
skills
withiin
suiate
currieultim
frarmeworks.
F3o
example,
'`exas
has expandedi
the
ntumber
of
lani-
gulage
arts
to
siX-viewing
and
representing
have
been
added
to
reading,
writiig,
speaking,
anad
listening-with
speciFIC
outcomle
expectations
in
English
language
arts
f'or
grades
4-12
('Tiaxas
Edlucationi
AgencyT
1998).
More
thiani
40
states
in-
cluding
MZi,iassachusetts,
North
Carolina,
and
New
Mexico
have
idenftifed media-literacy
skills
withlin
language
arts,
s-ecial
studieiS,
ftne
and
performing
arts,
library-i-nforniation
skills,
or health
edtication
curricula
(Kutbey
&
Baker,
1999).
WXhile
scholars
ha,e
pointed
outit
the
fragnmen-
ed
nature
of
the concept
of rnedia
literacy,
with
a
1£Lnumtbe
of
ongoing
debates
about
th1e
piactices,
ped-
agogies,
and
politics
emTnbedded
in
it
(Hobbs,
1998),
an
approach
that
emphasizes
con1stri
etivist,
initerdis-
eiplin
ary,
coliaborative,
nonihierarcllical,
and
inquIry-based
processes
of
learning
is
emergirig
as
a
artcri-y
JULY/AUGUST/SEPTEMB3ER
2003
38/3
dominant
paradigm-f
(Alvernmann
et
al.,
199'),
Bazalgette,
1993;
Brunner
&
lhally,
1999
C'onsidine
&
Haley. 1999;
1'ilm
Edutication
W'orking
Group,
1999,
Giroux &
Simnon,
1989:
Hobbs,
[996;
Masterman,
1985
;Watts
Pafilbotet
&
Mosenithal.
2000))
As
stuiderits
practice
questioning
media
and
other
informa-tion,
tihey
may
begin
a
process
of
inter-
nal
q
1
uestioning
every
timre
they
en'
motinter-
media
Messages,
without
prompting
from the
teacher,
iler.rding
to
ivner
(1998),
'Lilt
is
tlhe
hopef
criti-
cal
peJ'agogists
that
this
habit..
.Wili
create
critically
autonomous
citizens,
who
qtuestion
inforimation
and
authority
as
a
matter
of
course"
(p. 199).
Medtia
literacy
ill
K-
2
environments
generaily
feattires activities
that
invite
students
to
reflect
.oi
anid
araly?e
thlGeir
owin
media
consumptio:n
habits
(Anlderson,
1983;
Browvni,
1991:
Kube,y
&
Baker,
1999);
to
idenrib
author,
purpose,
and
point
of
View
in
filns,
comniercials. television
and
radio
programs,
magazine
and
newspaper editorials
(Considine
&
Haley,
1999'
Hobbs,
1
999);
to
identify
the
range
of
production
techniclues
that
arc
used
to commtnunicate
point
of
view
and
shape
audience
response
(Brunner
&
Tally.
1999;
Film
EdLucati`3n
Working
Cirotip,
1999;
Messaris,
1994);
and
to
identity
anti
evaluate
the
quality
of
medias
representatit)n
of
the
world
by
exarmriining
patterns
O,r
epresetittion,
stercofty
ping,
emphasis,
andi
omissiotn
in
prinit
an5d
television news
and
other
Im-edia
GAlvermann
&
Hagood5,
2000:,
Alvermann
et
al.,
1999; Sholle
&
Denski,
1994;
Tyner,
1998).
Otlher
mnedia-literacy
activities
often
include
atI
appreciation
of
the
basic
economic
un-
derpi
nnings
of
mlass
mecia
industries,
as
well
as
ei-
gtedcr
familiarin'
anti
experience
in
using
mass
imedia
tools
for
person
al
expression
and
conununi1u
ica-
tuOlm
and
for
purposes
of
social
and
political
advocacy
(Hobbs,
1994;
Pririsloo
&
(Crincos,
1991).
T'hesc
skills
andi
activitics
may
have
an
impact
ott
students'
motivation
to
develop
I-imore
soohisticated
readitng,
writing,
and
analysis
skills
(tiubey,
1998).
Th
ere
is
a
smal
l
body
of
research
that
explores
the
Impact
of
ntedia-diteracy
instruction
o0£
the
cog-
nitive
skills.
attitudes,
atid
behlaviors
of
yoing
peo-
pl.c
A
histotr
of
the
first
phase
of
implementing
critical-viewing
skills
instruction.
in
the
1
980s
re-
vealed
that
most
evaluation
n(vdels
examinied
the
program
outcomies
oni
very
small
numbers
of
sttl-
dents,
usually
a
sin£gle
classroom,
ofteni
in
interveni-
lions designed ani
implemented
by
researchers
(Anderson,
1
983).
Studies
h1ave
exanmined
whethe
a
brief,
six-hourn
exposure to Media-literacy
education
affected
children's
abiliity
to
distin
guish
between
the
ical
anid
fictional
elements
of
a
progmani
(Diorr,
Graves,
&
Phelps,
11980),
wthether
a
three-hour-a-
Measuring
the
acquisition
of
media-literacy
skills
week
curriculum
for
elementary
school
studeents
hilped
students
identify
g,enre
and
syntactical
struic-
ture
(Anderson, 1983);
and
whetheran
eight-session
course
on
mnedia
literacy
improved
knowledge
of
camera
aand
editing
prodtuction
techniques
and
the
economics
of
media
production
(Singer,
Zuckerman,
&
Singer, 1980).
More
recently,
studies
have
ex-
plored
whvlether
students
learned
the
facts,
vocabu-
lary,
and
information
provided
as
part
of
the
instrtuctioni
(Baron,
1985;
Keiley,
Gunter,
&
Kelley,
1985)
or
whether
a
video
broadcast
about
mnedia
lit-
eracy
affected
cognitive
or
critical-analysis
skills
(Vboijs
&
-Van
der
Voort,
1993).
Health
researchers
have
exarnined the
effect
of media-literacy
instruc-
tion
on
elementary
school
studenits'
attitudes
about
alcohol
(Austiin
&
Johnson,
1997;
Goldberg
&
Bechtel,
n.d.).
In
addition,
case
studies
fromn
a
num-
ber
of
countr-ies
have
docuamented
teachers'
instruc-
tional strategics
in
implemrenting
media
literacy
in
classroorns
(Alvermann
et
al.,
1999;
Hart,
1997,
Michie,
1999).
Studies using
group
designs
remain
the
prima-
ry
meanis
for
assessing
whether
edtucational
interven-
tions
have
beneficial
effects
on
students.
Altholugh
qualitative
studies
cani
provide
valuable
insights
on
the
process
of
change
and
enhance
understanding
of
facets
of
teaching
and
learning
(Babbie,
1998),
experimental
or
nonexperimental
group
designs
remain
a
standard
used
by
external audiences
in
assessing
the
effectiveness
of
a
novel
intervention
(Cook
&
Campbell,
1979).
L.ittle
scliool-based em-
pirical
research
has
been
conducted
to
demonstrate
the
imiipact
of
media-literacy
curriculumr
on
studenits'
attitudes,
belavior,
knowledge,
and
academiic
perfor-
mnance.
In
the
first
quantitative
measuremenit
of
media-literacy
skills,
Quin
and
McMahoni
(1'995)
conducted
research
on
a
sample
of
1,500
students
in
Western
Australia.
They
created an
evaluationr
instru-
msent
that
provided
students
with
a
specific
visual
nedia
message,
with
mnultiple-choice
and
open-
ended questions
in
a
paper-and-pencil
assessment.
Students
identified
the
message's
purpose, target
au-
dlience,
poilnt
of
view,
and
qualities
of
representation.
ITn
the
United
States,
Hobbs
and
Frost
(1999)
measured
n-inth-grade
studsents'
media-analysis
skilis
in
'our
different
classroom contexts,
usinig
a
mea-
surement
approach
adapted
from
the
work
of
Quin
and
McMahon. Students
answered
multiple-choice
and
open-ended
questions
about
a
television news
segmient
and
identifie-d
the
target
audience,
the
de-
sign
qualities
that
attracted
audience
attention,
the
points
of
view expressed,
similarities
and
differences
to
oth-er
imessages
within
the
genre,
and
what
itnfor-
mation
was
omitted.
After
12
weeks
of
instruction,
findings
showedl
tihat
students
whose
teachers
inte-
grated
media-literacy
conicepts
and
activities with
ex-
isting
curriculumn
outperfornmed
those
in
other
classes
whose
teachers
used
"off
the
shelf"
curricu-
lum.
As
yet, research
has
not
exainined
the
impact
of
mzedia
literacy
on1
the
development
of
reading
conii-
prehension and
writing
skills.
'lhe
present
study
was
designed to
evaluate
the
impact
of
a
secondary
lan-
guage arts
curricuLlum,
which
w.as
developed
in
oIIe
school
district,
to
determinie
its
effects
on
students
readinig,
listening and
viewinig
comprehension,
writing,
and
skills
of
message analysis.
Media
literacy
in
English
language
arts:
One
school's
approach
Concord
High
School
is
one
of
a
small
nuin-
ber
of
high
sclhools
in
the
United
States
to
fully
inne-
grate media
literacy
tor
all
its
students.
During
the
spring
of
1998,
thce
school
board approved a
plan
to
reorganize
the
high
school
English
lansguage
arrs
cur-
riculumi
to
include
a
fuill
yearlong
curriculum
in
mnedia/communications
for-
all
grade
11
students.
The
initiative
was
cdeveloped
by
a
team
of
Eniglish
teachers
wvho
reviewed
the high
school
curriculum
after
a
school
building
project
hiad
led
to the
expan-
sion
of
the
school
to
include
grade
9
stude,nts,
wvho
were
for
many
years
enrolled
in the
district's
miiddle
schools.
For
faculty
in
the
Fnglish
programn,
antici-
pating
the
arrivaal
of
grade
9
students
provided
the
opportunity
to
step
back
and
reflect
on
the
overall
secondary
curriculum
in
F
nglish language arts.
"When
we
looked
at
the
curriculum,
we
thoughlt
we
-were
doing
a
good
job
preparing students
to
he
English
majors
in
college,"
said
Elizabeth
York,
English
department
coorcdinator.
We
needed
to
do
rmore
'o
prepare
all
our
students,
not
just
ti
e
few
who
wanted
to
be
English
najors.
tWhat
we
needed
to
do
is
help
student's
to
he
skilltfil
in
al
the
messages
that they
are
surrounded
with
every'
day
of
their
lives.
To
orpare
thletm
tor
lire
meanis
more
attention
to
nonfiction,
mnore
attention
to
mnedia
messages
andi
diverse
forrnis
of
cornminriticationr
According
to
Bob
Cowan,
veteran
Concord
High
School
English
teacher,
"We
designed
a
year-
lonig
program
in
media/cotmmunications
that
em-
phasizes
the
analysis
of
media
messages
and
examines
some
broader
social
and cultural
issues
about the
role
of
the
media
in
society
andi
'or
the
lives
of
individu-
als."
T
he
faculty
decided
to
restructure the
scope
and
335
33t
Reading
R{ese-urch
Qtla.rty
JULY/AUGUST/SEPTEMBER
2003
38/3
sequence
tor
secondary
Eng1lish
language
arts.
lPie
new
sequence includes
grade
9
Arnercan
liierature;
grade
10
world literature;
grade
1
i
nmedial
comllmutlcation5s
and
grade
12
Enpglish
electives,
I-
ciuding
poetry,
creative
writing,
Shakespeare,
medtia
production,
and
others,
-From
the
perspective
ofthe
faculty,
this
approach
would
belc
the best fit
for
their
studenits
beca
use
it
aligned
closely
with
the
program
of
studI
cs
Iwt
historv
and
social
stud'
es
andl
wo.uld
take advantage
of
inierdisciplinary
atid
cross-curricu-
lar
opportunities
that
were
valued
by
the
ftIculty
and
stuidelnts.
Sevren
teachers
collaborated
to
construct
the
cuiytaulutint.a
which,
incivolved
students
analy-zing clas-
sic
and
contemporary
literature
as
wVell
as
teievis
in
shows,
print
anid
television
journalism,
filmis,
adver-
tising,
political
speeches,
and
business
and
interper-
sonal
communications
(York
&
Aub3ry,
1999)
Facultv
imernbers
who
were selected
to
participate
in
the
new
course
(based
on
iterest
and
schldrtling
availa:bility)
had
a
iiix
of
c
liassroom
xperiee.
lwo
teacher
s
were
veterans
with
over
30
years
of
teaching,
tVw0o
others
xvere
niidcareer
teachers,
two
had
been.
teaching
for
less
than
10
years,
and
one
wvas
a
teacher
in
her
first
year
of
teachinig.
Grade
I
I
teachers
in-
cluded
foitr
-white
womein
and
three
white
Inwen,
and
while the
school's
principal
described
tIe
team
as
strong
he
also
made
it
clear
that
there
were
a
nttm-
ber
of
exceptional
facu'ty
in
th
e
English departmenit
who
were
not
teaching
the
grade
11
mediatcoirnu-
nicatiotns
course.
None of
the
teachers
Lad
an
ad-
vancGed
degree
inl
m.1edia
studies,
altiough
one
teacher
had
a
doctorate
in
education,
Their
attitudes
about
the
mnedia
were
substantially
diverse,
witll
one
teacher
a self-described
"news
media
junkie,"
aniothl-
er
with
on1v
one
little-tised television
in
his
hone,
and,
another
with
a
particuilar
interest
in
inass
cotm-
mnunication
theories
of
media
inifluence.
Two
of
the
sevNen
teachers
did
not
enjoy
teaching
this
coutise
and
switched
to
teach
other
grade
levels
in
the
subse-
quenit
school
yTear.
(Analysis
of
teacher
attitudes
and
behavior
during
the
progr:rnm
implementation
atnd
thle
impact
of
attitudes
on
curriculunm
imnp
ernenta
tioni
is
tnder
pretiaratioll
by
the
first
authtnor.)
It
is
important
to
note that
the
Concord
High
School
English
langtiage
arts
£aCuitry
has
a
stronIg
be-
lief
in
and
respect
foir
the
benefits
of
heterogeneous
grouping. While
othler
academ-nic
programs
at
the
bigh
school
a-re
tracked,
th_
Enlish
fa'culty
hias
been
consistently firm in
nmaitaining
g
heterogeneous
grouping,
despite
some
informal
pressure
from.
par-
emits
an6d
facuiry colleagues.
The
faculty
believed
that
the
grade
II
course
in
iaedia/commnunicatmons
wotild
furtlher
help build
opportun'ties
tot
peer-t6-
pee
learniing
experienctes
that
bene'
4
it
ill
students
[hle
seven
teachers selected
six
well
-known
works
of
literature
and
n-ionEfictioni
thit
thev
woUldk
use
in
cotntOn.
I
he
shareci
sortic
vidcotapes
an-id
used
sone
commi.7on-
writiag
and
othei
activities,
which
wcere
stored on
a
fileservcr
in
the
faculty
work-
room,
Faculty
memnbers
shared
their
assignnents
foer-
mally
via
a
binder
of
materials
maintained
in
the
workroom
as
welI
as
through
informal dialogue
i1n
xveekh
stall
m
eetingsB
In
order
to
prepare
for
teachin
g,
the
new
course,
three
mnembers
of
the
grade
I
I
tean
attended
a
1
998
conlerence
at
Clark
Untiversut'
in
WX/orcester,
Massachusetts,
entitled
i'-aChing
thie
Hiiutanities
in
a
MediaAge
Organi.ed
as
a
nationlat
teacher
educartion
institute
for
educators,
this
staff
development
prograrn,
fun9ded
by
a
grant
from
the
\rthtur
Vining Dav
is
Fotundations
and,
AF1
T
Foundatiotn,
invxolveel
teachers
frotii
four
school
dis-
;rwcts:
Atlanta,
C'Teorgia;
Lo
oAngeles,
C,alifrtorni'a;
S.t.
Pla'ti/Milineapolis,
Minnesota;
aid
iel'Nrceste,
Massachusetts
(Hobbs,
1999).
T
he
First
autihor
of
the
sttidv
had
contact
with
tlhree
Concord
tcacheis
on
1
yl
during
t
1
mis
weeklong
staff
developmsent
e-per.-
encee
anid
didt
niot
play
a
role
in
the
d
evelopiment of
the
curriculum coritent
or
insstrutctiotal processes.
G,rade
I
I
teachers
did
adopt
the
five
frarming
questions,
presented
at
the
(lark
stafecleveiopment
programn,
that
thtey
believed
wou.ld
help)
to
utlify
thleir
curriculuml
mWho
is
senditng
thibs
mlessage
and
wehat
is the author's
purpose?
What
techiliques
are
used to
attract
and
hold
attenrtion?
Vlham
lihfestyles,
valties,
and
tpoints
of
view are
reoresefited
itl
tills
tnessagcI
1
-7ow
inigrht
different
people
initerpret
riFs
miiessagce
diff-erently?
5
'What
ia
omrnitted
Irom
tlheis
mies-
sage?
Critical
questions
like
these
have
beni
effeetire
ini
introdticing
aLnn
stistaining
reflective
practice
and
i-2etaci)gliitive
skills
aimotng
students
-atd
teaichers,
as
described
by
l)eborah
Mcier
"I99),
founder
of
the
,Ce
tral
faSrk
East
com-plex
oif
sch)ools
in
New
York
Cirty.
Whilc
teachers did
share
materials
anid
re-
sources
with
others,
each
teacler
clesigened
andu
mse
various
units
ot
iinstructiion
according
to
his
or
"'lei
inchividuial
perspective.
All
inlduded
the
formal
sttdy
of
four
key
areas:
(a)
advertising,
pe:suasion,
and
propaganda:
(b)
the
analvsis
atid
construction
of
naews
and
lnonfiction,
(.)
approiaches
to
stoiytelling
in
dramatic
fictitin;
and
(c1)
the
representation
of
grenlder,
race,
and
ideology
in
media
mnessages
(York
&
Atibry,
1999).
Becauise
of
the
need
to
share
books,
each
teacher
taught
sing
thlese
materials
at
dlifcrclet
tin-es
and
in
clifferent
sequetitial
order
duniug
the
school
year.
336
Measuring
the
acquisition
of
medialiteracy
skills
The
school
principal
and
t'he
district's
school
board
had
approved
the
tnew
programn
with
only
onie
ca-veat-that
the
program
be
academically rigoro
Is.
According
to
principal
Tim
Meyer,
[the
use
concern
that
was
raised
was
thi-
concerin
that
the
program
maintain
high
expectatiotns
for
the
developnienr
of
students'
critical
thinkin&g.
wririg,
reading,
anid
analysis
skills.
[The
school board
iniemhers
saidi,
"Don't
lose
the
em-
phasis
on
somne
of
the
basic skills
that
kids
need-reading,
writing,
i'ntrpreting
literature."
As
m-entionied
earlier,
although
the
faculty
members
had
interests
in
media/communications,
none
pos-
sessed any
particular
disciplinary
expertise
in
media
studies.
They
were
most comfortable
in
analyzing
lit-
erarure
and
strengthening
students'
writing
and
read-
ittg
skills:
interviews
showed
that
teachers
were
moderately
confident
that
the
new course
would
buildl
bridges between
media
study
and
litcrary
nLn-
derstand
ings
of
the
meaniing-making
process
and
wouLd
be
as
academically
rigorous
as
other
courses
in
the
secondary
English language
arts
curriculum.
A
sa
result,
classroom activities
ranged
widely
du-ring
the
course
of
the
school
year,
frorm
traditional
literature-based
language
arts
to
activities
inore
fo-
ctused
on
specific
miedia
formis.
Teachers
nade
an
ef-
fort to
makc
a
mnedia/communnications
connection
wihen
they
were
doinig
more
traditional
reading liter-
ary
analysis,
and
writing
activities.
For
example,
stu-
detnts
analyzed
point
of
view
in
Ken
Kesev's
I
960s
book
One
Fleew
Over
the
Guckcoo&
A
t
est
(2003,
Pengtu
in
USA),
examining
h1ow
the hook
and
the
film
use
different
strategies to tell
the
story
through
manipulating
point
of
view.
After
reading Mary
Shelley's
Frankenstein,
students
examined
the
differ-
ent
depictions
of
the
birth
of
the monster
in
thie
mianyi
differenit film
versions,
froin
the
1 930s
to
the
present
timile.
When
they
read Aldous
tutxley's
Brave
NVew
World,
they
discussed
similarities
andI
differ-
ences
bDetween
the
futuristic
visions
of
Huxley,
those
of'George Otwell,
and
trenids
in
contemnporary soci-
ety.
Teachers
also
designed
specifie
units
of
instruc-
tion
oni
the
representation
of
miien
andcl
womeni
in
the
imedia
and
the
power
of
advertising.
In some
classes,
students
traced,
patterns
in
the
e'volution
of
families
on
television,
looking
critically
at
the representation
of
nen,
women,
and
children
in
situation
comedies
of
different
eras.
Otlher
sttilemts
examined
changes
in
talk
shows
on
televisioni
and the
patterns
of
gen-
der stereotyping
in
television
programming.
Sorne
learnied
about
the
economics
of
media
hy
studying
the
history
of
children's
television.
With
advertising.
students
analyzed
the
techniques
and
approaches
used in
print
and
television.
Writing
assignments
en-
couraged
students
to
examine
ads
and
diescribe
target
audiences,
recognize
the
use
of
emotiotnal
appeals,
and
notice how
graphic
design
elemernts
were
used
Lo
compel
viewer
attention.
Some
students
visited
an
advertising
agency
and
interviewed
key
staff mem-
bers.
Others
taught
a
mlinli-unit
on advertising
to
younger
children.
created
ad
parodies,
or
constructed
consumner
awareness
campaigns
using
fliers,
radio
ad-
vertising,
and
print
media
(York
&
.Aubry,
1999)o
In
studying nonfiction
mnedia
and
journialism.
stiudents analyzed
neewscasts.
including
local,
nation
-
al,
and
niewsinagazine
broadcasts.
'I'hey
wrote
news
stories.
'I[be
five
critical
questions
were
tused
routine-
IV
itn
instruction
to
help
students
internalize
meta-
cognitive
strategies to
assess
audience,
purpose,
and
point
of
view.
Assignmients
asked
students
to
critical-
ly
review
newspapers
and
websites, comparinig
cover-
age
of
an
event
or
individual
across
multiple
sources.
Numerous
and
regular
assignments
with
the
local
daily
niewspaper,
the
Concord
Monitor,
involved
the
analysis
of
word
choice,
images,
sequence
of
infor-
natrion,
contenlt
emphasis
and
omission,
and
pat-
terns
in
racial
and
gender
representation.
Students
explored
the
ways
in
xvhich
narrative elements
are
used
to
attract
and
hold attention
in
tnonfiction
nmes-
sages
by
writing
Inonifiction
themselves.
'l'eachers
used
a
variety
of
instructional
meth-
ods
to
scaffold
students'
learning,
including
viewing
and
discussing,
paired
reading,
journial
writing,
ques-
tion
sharing,
and
other
methods
to
promote
rich
discussion
in
the
classroom.
There
were
nunierous
writing
assignmnents
throughout
the
year.
Challenging
assignments offered advanced
students
special
opportuniities
to extend
the
learninfg
experi-
ence
through
additional
reading,
writing,
and
media
prodUction1
activities.
It
is
not
surprising
that
teachers
were
least
comfo