Media Literacy and Civic Engagement: Report from the Field

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Research on the impact of two media literacy programs in an American high school shows that media literacy contributes to civic engagement.

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  • The Communication Arts Program (CAP) at Montgomery Blair High School was established in 1988, three years after the Math, Science and Computer Science Magnet Program opened. The program strives to provide a comprehensive approach to the humanities and the media by offering accelerated, interdisciplinary courses in English, social studies, and media production for participating students. The CAP also places a great deal of importance on social awareness and community service.In ninth grade, students take courses in photography, drama, American history and English. Tenth grade requires journalism, media, AP U.S. Government and Politics and English. In eleventh grade, students have AP World History, AP English Language and Composition and one semester of Research Methods. Finally, students need to take a portfolio prep class in the last semester of their junior and first semester of their senior year.The CAP Portfolio is the final, defining, and most important project of the CAP experience. During their junior and senior years, students select their best work in a variety of categories (including writing skills, media literacy skills, and social awareness) completed for classes that are a part of the program's curriculum. After students have put together their Portfolio to the satisfaction of CAP faculty members, they undergo interviews wherein they present and discuss the contents. Failure to put together a Portfolio or failure of the interview process results in removal from the program.The CAP attracts highly able students from all around the county. Admission to the program, like that of the Magnet, is highly selective. Students may be eligible to join the CAP if they are a member of the Downcounty Consortium of high schools, or were a member of the middle school Magnet Programs at Eastern Middle School or Takoma Park Middle School. Applicants must have at least an average grade of a B in honors-level English and social studies courses. The CAP admits approximately 75 ninth grade students each year, occasionally admitting students to the program even after the first semester of freshman year. Once admitted to the program, students are required to successfully complete the twelve CAP courses, maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75, and complete the CAP Portfolio to graduate with the CAP diploma.
  • Media Literacy and Civic Engagement: Report from the Field

    1. 1. Media Literacy and Adolescent Civic Engagement: Report from the Field<br />Hans Martens<br />Renee Hobbs<br />Shay Taylor<br />Montgomery Blair High School<br />Presentation at the <br />National Association for Media Literacy Education, July 24, 2011<br />
    2. 2. Goals for this Session<br />Learn about how media literacy is integrated into a high-functioning American high school <br />Share research results examining the relationship between news analysis and civic engagement<br />Explore the opportunities and challenges of empirical research in media literacy education <br />
    3. 3.
    4. 4.
    5. 5.
    6. 6. Blair Network Communications (BNC)<br />
    7. 7. Selective Admission Programs<br />Communication Arts Program (CAP)<br />Science, Mathematics and Computer Science Magnet Program<br />Open Admission Programs<br />Media Literacy<br />Entrepreneurship<br />International Studies and Law<br />Human Service Professions<br />Science, Math and Technology<br />
    8. 8. Communication Arts Program (CAP)<br />
    9. 9. Communication Arts Program (CAP)<br />GRADE 9<br />INTERDISCIPLINARY<br />INTERDISCIPLINARY PROJECTS<br />The projects synthesize information from various disciplines into comprehensive presentations that highlight the events of the era assigned. <br />MOVIE REVIEWS<br />Each quarter the<br />students will watch a movie in the auditorium that relates to the historical period focused on in History class. They write a movie review and for homework, watch movies from a list compiled by the faculty.<br />CRITICAL THINKING PAPER<br />The project entails an in depth argument and analysis for a major social issue facing humanity. <br />A comprehensive program that connects the humanities to the media, now in its 24th year<br />
    10. 10. Communication Arts Program (CAP)<br /> Crystal Ball<br />Students research demographic and voter characteristics and then predict the Presidential, US Senate, US House of Representatives, and gubernatorial races throughout the United States. <br /> <br />Critical Thinking Essay<br />The Critical Thinking Essay requires students to select an issue of national importance and write a persuasive essay arguing one side of that issue, supported by documented and cited sources. In 10th grade, each student will support the issue from the side opposite to the one advocated in the 9th grade essay<br />CAP Congress – Foreign Policy<br />Students research foreign policy issues concerning seven “hotspots” from around the world, draft resolutions, debate the issues, and prioritize the foreign policy needs of the US.<br /> <br />CAP Court<br />Students hold mock trials on court cases drawn from each of the four 10th grade subjects: English, Government, Journalism and Media. Students will act as lawyers trying the case and also role-play the defendants and witnesses.<br />GRADE 9<br />INTERDISCIPLINARY<br />
    11. 11.
    12. 12. Open Admission Programs<br />
    13. 13. MEDIA LITERACY ACADEMY<br />Students in the Media Literacy Academy develop the ability to read, analyze, evaluate, and produce communications in written text, moving images, still images, and sound. Students will learn to read critically, interpret analytically, communicate effectively, and produce messages for both meaning and persuasion. Any field involving art, music, film, radio, video, television, theater, literature, journalism, or photography requires an understanding of effective communication. <br />
    14. 14.
    15. 15.
    16. 16. Research Design<br />Quasi-experimental study<br />2 x 2 factorial<br />Treatment<br />Media Literacy<br />No ML<br />CAP<br />ML ACADEMY<br />CONTROL<br />CONTROL<br />Academy Level<br />Open Selective<br />Admission Admission<br />
    17. 17. MEASURES<br />To distinguish between students’ actual use of the Internet and their motives for using the Internet to seek information, we first asked respondents to identify how much they use the Internet on an 8-point scale ranging from never to every day.<br />Internet use <br />Information Motives (U&G)<br />Civic Engagement<br />News Analysis<br />Ad Analysis<br />Media Knowledge<br />
    18. 18. MEASURES<br />To assess students’ motives to seek out information as a part of daily life, we used an instrument developed to assess Internet uses and gratifications by Papacharissi & Rubin (2000). Using a five-point scale, students were asked to respond to four statements: <br /><ul><li>I use the internet to search for information
    19. 19. to see what is out there
    20. 20. to keep up with current events and issues
    21. 21. because it provides me with a new and interesting way to do research </li></ul>Internet use <br />Information Motives (U&G)<br />Civic Engagement<br />News Analysis<br />Ad Analysis<br />Media Knowledge<br />
    22. 22. MEASURES<br />Students were asked to report if they expect to engage in the following activities when they become an adult: <br /><ul><li>vote in national elections
    23. 23. get information about candidates before voting in an election
    24. 24. join a political party
    25. 25. writeletters to a newspaper about social or political concerns
    26. 26. be a candidate for a local or city office
    27. 27. volunteertime to help poor or elderly people in the community
    28. 28. collect money for a cause
    29. 29. collect signatures for a petition, and participate in a peaceful rally or protest. </li></ul>A 4-point scale was used, scaled as certainly will not do, probably will not do, probably will do, and certainly will do. <br />Internet use <br />Information Motives (U&G)<br />Civic Engagement<br />News Analysis<br />Ad Analysis<br />Media Knowledge<br />
    30. 30. MEASURES<br />In the news analysis task, students were given a short Time magazine piece (Van Biema, 2007) and asked to read it, responding to open-ended questions including: <br /><ul><li>summarize the main point of the article
    31. 31. identify the target audience & explain what specific information from the reading supports your answer
    32. 32. identify the message purpose
    33. 33. identify what techniques were used to attract and hold attention
    34. 34. list some different points of view presented
    35. 35. Identify omitted information</li></ul>Scores were summed to form an additive index which ranged from 14 to 0.<br />Internet use <br />Information Motives (U&G)<br />Civic Engagement<br />News Analysis<br />Ad Analysis<br />Media Knowledge<br />
    36. 36. MEASURES<br />In the ad analysis task, students were given a print ad and asked to respond to open-ended questions including: <br /><ul><li>identify the target audience & explain what specific information from the reading supports your answer
    37. 37. identify the message purpose
    38. 38. Identify the ad’s implied message or subtext
    39. 39. identify what techniques were used to attract and hold attention
    40. 40. list some different points of view presented
    41. 41. Identify omitted information</li></ul>Scores were summed to form an additive index which ranged from 14 to 0.<br />Internet use <br />Information Motives (U&G)<br />Civic Engagement<br />News Analysis<br />Ad Analysis<br />Media Knowledge<br />
    42. 42. MEASURES<br />We asked students to complete short tests relating to different facets of the media industry, including information about history, economics, institutions, audiences and effects. <br />MULTIPLE CHOICE (6 items): <br /><ul><li>identify the main purpose of photos in a newspaper
    43. 43. recognize the most common kind of economic control over mass media
    44. 44. name the system of financing used to pay for commercial radio. </li></ul>TRUE FALSE (11 items)<br /><ul><li>The number of companies that own mass media outlets is growing
    45. 45. Newspapers make most of their money through the price paid by the consumers who buy them</li></ul>Internet use <br />Information Motives (U&G)<br />Civic Engagement<br />News Analysis<br />Ad Analysis<br />Media Knowledge<br />
    46. 46. TheoreticalFramework<br />Media literacyeducation<br />->activelyconsuming and producing media messages<br />->seek out information on relevant issues, evaluate the quality of information available, engage in online publishing, debate and more<br />RQ1: Are differences media knowledge and media analysis skills associated with participation in a media literacy program? <br />
    47. 47. TheoreticalFramework<br />Media literacycompetencies<br />->notequallydistributedamong adolescents<br />->variety of both informal and formal learning experiences as well as through family, peer, social class and other influences<br />RQ2: Are differences in media knowledge and media analysis skills associated with student’s academic level?<br />
    48. 48. TheoreticalFramework<br />Motivationsfor digital media use<br />->Putnam: Decline in civic engagement<br />->Uses and gratifications research: Differential media effects. Informational media use patterns are positively related to civic engagement.<br />RQ3: What is the relationship between participation in a ML program, Internet use, information motivation, media literacy and civic engagement?<br />
    49. 49. Data Analysis<br />Comparison of means<br />
    50. 50. Data Analysis<br />Comparison of means<br />->Students in the Selective Admission Program score better on measures of media knowledge and media literacy than students in the Open Admission Program<br />
    51. 51. Data Analysis<br />Comparison of means<br />->In both the Open Admission Program and the Selective Admission Program, the ML group scores better than the other group on media knowledge and media literacy measurements<br />
    52. 52. Data Analysis<br />->Both educational level and participation in a media literacy program influence media knowledge and media literacy measurements<br />
    53. 53. Data Analysis<br />Correlation matrix<br />
    54. 54. Data Analysis<br />Correlation matrix<br />->Academy level is positivelyrelatedwithinformationmotive, media knowledge, newsanalysis and ad analysis. Note the negativerelationwithfrequency of Internet use<br />
    55. 55. Data Analysis<br />Correlation matrix<br />->Participation in a ML program is positivelyrelatedwith media knowledge, newsanalysis and ad analysis<br />
    56. 56. Data Analysis<br />Correlation matrix<br />->Frequency of Internet use is negativelyrelatedwithinformationmotive, media knowledge, newsanalysis, and ad analysis<br />
    57. 57. Data Analysis<br />Correlation matrix<br />-> Informationmotive is positivelyrelatedwithnewsanalysis<br />
    58. 58. Data Analysis<br />Correlation matrix<br />->Media knowledge, newsanalysis, and ad analysis are positivelyrelatedbutdistinctconstructs<br />
    59. 59. Data Analysis<br />Multiple regression<br />
    60. 60. Data Analysis<br />Multiple regression<br />->Participation in a ML programindependentlycontributes to civic engagement<br />
    61. 61. Data Analysis<br />Multiple regression<br />-> Aftercontrollingforgender, academy level, and ML program, informationmotive, media knowledge and newsanalysiscontribute to civic engagement<br />
    62. 62. Summary<br /><ul><li>RQ1: Are differences media knowledge and media analysis skills associated with participation in a media literacy program?
    63. 63. RQ2: Are differences in media knowledge and media analysis skills associated with students’ academic level?
    64. 64. RQ3: What is the relationship between participation in a ML program, Internet use, information motivation, media literacy and civic engagement?</li></li></ul><li>Summary<br />News analysis and media knowledge are associated with civic engagement <br />Media literacy programs activate ML competencies differentially depending on the type of instructional program and the characteristics of the student body<br />Information-seeking motives, not time spent online, is associated with both media literacy and civic engagement<br />
    65. 65. Limitations of the Study<br />Research design: no random assignment to condition<br />unobserved factors may be causing the differences between the two groups<br />What led to some people to select the ML treatment and others not? <br />Link between instructional treatment and outcomes <br />what specific dimensions of the learning environment contributes to skills of news analysis and media knowledge?<br />Need for additional measures<br />what about media production?<br />broader patterns of media use?<br />how should we measure civic engagement in a digital age?<br />
    66. 66.
    67. 67. Next Steps: Research Agenda<br />What are the next questions that need to be answered about the relationship between media literacy and civic engagement?<br />
    68. 68. Renee Hobbs<br />Email: renee.hobbs@temple.edu<br />Hans Martens<br />Email: Hans.Martens@ua.ac.be<br />

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