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Media Literacy Education for Teens and Young Adults: A Comparison of High School and University-Level Media Literacy Instruction

When/Where: Monday, 9:45-10:30am in Nicolas Moore (lobby).

Presenters: Hans C. Schmidt, Penn State University – Brandywine. Presider: Theresa Redmond

Objectives: This poster session illustrates survey research results of the extent to which students are exposed to several basic elements of media literacy education at the high school and university levels.

Audience: PK-12 Schooling, Higher Education, Educational Administration & Policy

Description

In light of the centrality of media in today’s society, there has been a growing recognition of the need to help individuals of all ages develop competencies necessary to be full participants in the modern world of media convergence. This study considers the extent to which students are exposed to several basic elements of media literacy education at the high school and university levels. A survey (N=409) was conducted to compare student exposure to media literacy curricula at both the high school and university levels.

Data suggest that media literacy competencies were addressed more often in high school than in college. Results might be divided into three categories of competencies associated with media literacy: learning about media use, learning about media creation, and learning about media analysis (Wulff, 1993).

Regarding the first category, questionnaire data demonstrated that students reported using video and Web-based media in high school (77.4%) more often than in college (73.4%). Specifically, more student participants reported taking courses in high school that involved video use (68.7%) and Web use (86.0%), than students reported taking courses in college that involved video use (61.9%) or Web use (84.8%).

The trend was even more dramatic for the second category of media literacy competencies. When considering student exposure to courses that involved media creation, students reported creating video and Web-based media in high school (48.3%) more often than in college (31.1%). Specifically, students reported taking courses in high school that involved video creation (53.4%) or Web creation (43.1%) more frequently than students reported taking courses in college that involved video creation (29.0%) or Web creation (33.1%).

The third category considered learning about media analysis. Here the trend was reversed, and students reported taking fewer courses in high school regarding media analysis (43.4%) than in college (57.6%).

Thus, while 14.2% more students reported exposure to course content regarding media analysis in college than high school, 24.4% fewer students reported exposure to video creation and 10.0% fewer students reported exposure to Web creation in college than in high school.

Accordingly, data demonstrate that students are exposed to less media-related coursework in college than they are in high school. Especially, data show that students in college are involved in media creation activities much less frequently than students in high school.

These findings give cause for alarm. All three categories of competencies are interrelated: fully developing any one requires possessing other competencies as well. Furthermore, this trend is alarming because students who learn about media creation in high school may lose these competencies if they are not reinforced in college. Thus, despite the efforts of educators at the K-12 level to promote media literacy and engage students in the type of new media creation that will be important for the future, these competencies may be lost by students who are not encouraged to use them during their college years.

Participant Involvement

Attendees will have the opportunity to view my digital poster. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact with me personally and discuss this study’s findings.

Presenter(s)

  • Hans C. Schmidt, Penn State University – Brandywine: Hans Schmidt (Ph.D., Temple University) is an assistant professor of communications at Penn State University - Brandywine. He researches and teaches media, media literacy, and journalism.
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Welcome , today is Friday, 10/31/2014