Active Reasoning African-American Children’s ActiveReasoning about Media Texts as a Precursor toMedia Literacy in the US Renee Hobbs and Michael RobbGrieco
Children Live with Media and TechnologyBETWEEN THE AGES OF 8 – 18,76% of children have anI-pod or Mp3 player66% have a cell phone29% have their own laptop computer70% have a TV in the bedroom50% have a videogame player in thebedroom30% have Internet access in their bedroom
The Education Equity Gap• 12% of fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38% of white boys• Black boys are less likely to graduate on time from public high school (completing Grades 9 – 12 in four years) and twice as likely to drop out of high school as White boys.• While African-American girls are more likely to experience academic success than boys, many children experience academic challenges in schools with few resources and high teacher turnover rates.
50% of classroom teachers believe that children spend too much time in front of screens Wartella, Schomburg, Lauricella, Robb & Flynn, 2010
Media May Support Literacy DevelopmentMedia-based activities support literacy development becausethey strengthen the oral language skills that are required forreading comprehension.Readers must construct coherent mental representations byconnecting statements and ideas together, using both clues fromthe text itself and the readers’ own background knowledge.Reading comprehension involves inference-making, wherereaders construct mental representations by identifying“meaningful relations among text elements and between textelements and background knowledge.
HypothesisH1. African-American children enrolled in aSelective program will engage in more activereasoning about their favorite television programs,videogames and music than students enrolled in aregular education (Charter) program.H2. African-American children enrolled in aselective admission program for academically-talented students (Selective) will have differentmedia use habits and different home mediaenvironments than students enrolled in a regulareducation (Charter) program.
The “Gifted” SampleSELECTIVE> High-achievers included all 5th and 6thgraders from a highly competitive extra-curricularcitywide academic program offered by a non-profit youthserving organization. These children have been formallyidentified as “gifted.” This program selects low-incomeelementary student applicants from the urban publicschool district, based on recommendations fromteachers, academic achievement and family interviews,and prepares them for placement in competitive middleand junior high schools. Participating Selective studentscome from more than 30 low-income neighborhoods inthe city.
The “Regular” SampleREGULAR > This group included all 5th and 6th graders from apublic K-6 grade elementary school (Charter) that drawsstudent applicants by lottery. The city’s newspaper publisheda “Report Card” on the school district and reported that thedistrict-wide high school dropout rate was 44%. This charterschool draws its predominantly African-American studentsfrom 41 low-income neighborhoods across the city.Children from this school are generally performing at ratesabout even with or above par with city school averages, butconsiderably lower than state averages. For example, only38% of Grade 5 children have reading scores at or aboveproficient, as compared with 65% of children from across thestate.
What We Asked Kids• Amount of media use on a regular school day and a weekend day• Parental involvement in children’s media use including reading, music, videogames, Internet, television, general conversation, co-use, and rules about media use.• Active reasoning of media. Children were asked to name their favorite TV show, videogame, and song, and to explain why they liked each one in writing. Children were also asked to draw a picture about their favorite television program.
What Kids Write“It is hilarious and some of the boys on there arecute and funny and it has my favorite t.v. stars”“Its funny and the cartoons can sometimes beso clueless and at other times can be so evil.”“It has awesome graphics, great characters, andcool super attacks.”
What Kids Write“Its a fighting [game] and its the 5th Tekken. Ihave been a fan since the first one came out.”“It has drama, it funny, it about teenagers whichI will be in 2 more years.”
What Kids Write“It’s funny”“It’s cool”“It is the best”
What is Active Reasoning? A Precursor to Media LiteracyStudents demonstrated active reasoning if they:• Recognized the genre or type of message• Made an explicit link between two elements of the composition (e.g., lyrics + beat, beat + dance)• Description a compositional element• Identification of the message’s purpose or meaning• Referred to some social aspects of using media• Described an emotional response plus one other element of the message.
Gifted students use more active reasoning in responding to television than regular students.
Other Findings• Academic achievers are heavy electronic media users but consume less than Charter students and are somewhat less likely to have a TV in the bedroom.• Children do not see parents as involved in their media use habits and activities but some evidence suggests differences in children’s attitudes about restrictive mediation.