What is the most effective curricular and pedagogical approach to use in increasing media literacy among students? This is the challenge that I and most media educators must address today. This thesis charts my exploration of that question and demonstrates the results of a unit of instruction created to enhance the critical media literacy of students by focusing on positioning theory, spectatorship, and considering teen representation in mass media films. In creating curriculum, I needed to define the end goal of the instruction. My research led me to critical media literacy and its focus on moving beyond media textual analysis to exploring the power systems and meaning-making of media texts that could increase understanding of the world and oneself. In this research, the critical media literacy objectives were addressed through a focus on teen representations in film. Students viewed and responded to teen representations in a variety of films, and then were placed in the role of media creators to create teen films that showed the teen experience from their own perspectives. This shift, from media consumer to creator, was designed to help students understand the role and power of media authorship, allowing them to consider how media messages could be constructed and transmitted. Positioning theory suggests that individuals take certain roles and enact certain storylines in their social interactions with others. In order to achieve my critical media literacy goals, I needed to encourage the students to break from the positioning patterns of a traditional classroom, wherein the instructor holds the knowledge and is the arbiter of media values to the students. This shift was promoted in an effort for the students to gain more autonomy in media production and to develop media reading skills based on their own perspectives and not simply by looking at a text through the instructor's eyes. The research presented here shows the success and limitations faced in a secondary film class with a shift in curriculum, based on critical media literacy, and pedagogy, based on positioning theory, and allows me as an educator to uncover new ideas that can help me and other media educators meet the changing needs of the subject and students today.
College and Department
Fine Arts and Communications; Theatre and Media Arts
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Moss, Bradley David, "Positioning, Spectatorship, and Teen Films: Giving Students the Power for Effective Media Education" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 1823.
critical media literacy, representation, education