Assignment: Media Literacy

A Report to the Discovery Channel
November 13, 2001

Final Report

Executive Summary

Overall, we found solid and strong evidence that the Assignment: Media Literacy (AML) curriculum can help students in fulfilling the goals of media literacy instruction as well as reaching the curricular objectives of the Maryland State Content Standards. The curriculum addresses a wide range of important, fundamental media literacy goals.

The curriculum is well designed in its linkage to state curricular frameworks and it was very well designed for ease of use by teachers. Teachers who used the curriculum were very pleased with the curriculum and expect to use it in the future. They have shared it with other teachers, and report that their students responded extremely well to these media literacy lessons. The quantitative data collected from the teachers as well as their open-ended self reports are extremely positive in regard to most every aspect of Assignment: Media Literacy.

From both the teachers' reports and those of the students, before and after delivery of the curriculum, we have concluded that the curriculum was very well received and effective in both changing attitudes and in increasing media knowledge. Students enjoyed the curriculum and reported that they had become more critical about the media. Evidence also demonstrates that the students learned from the curriculum in significant ways, e.g., they obtained an increased and appropriate skepticism about the claims of advertisers and increased caution with regard to the veracity of information on the Internet.

The full report below outlines where the curriculum seems to have worked most effectively and in some instances may not have obtained all of its goals. Limitations in the efficacy of the curriculum are largely, if not entirely, related to issues such as limited teacher training in media literacy and the fact that some teachers did not roll out the entire curriculum. Hence, many students did not receive all of the six modules that were designed. Without direct control over teachers, it cannot be guaranteed that every teacher who expressed interest in AML would necessarily use every or, in some instances, even most modules. As will be seen, the students in the one school where the entire curriculum was delivered performed best.

Other limitations in the piloting of AML involved limited technological and personnel support for the teachers at the schools where they teach. These problems can be linked entirely to specific problems in schools and school districts, funding, and the like, and do not reflect in any way on the AML curriculum. In our view, while some modules could perhaps be improved, overall the curriculum is excellent, varied, and properly designed for the age grades involved.

Assignment: Media Literacy was a real success. Both teachers and students received it very well. Limitations that we have detected go more to matters of logistics, management, and roll out than to the curriculum itself.

The Discovery Channel can be rightly proud of its critical role in sponsoring the development and implementation of this very innovative and substantive media literacy curriculum, one that well addresses many of the Maryland State Content Standards. Moreover, the curriculum articulates well with the Core Curricular Standards in most every other state in the U.S. In our view, therefore, Assignment: Media Literacy can be appropriately disseminated to school districts and states throughout the United States.

Final Evaluation of Assignment: Media Literacy

Author Bio: 

Robert Kubey directs the Center for Media Studies and is an associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. Gina Serafin is a doctoral candidate in media studies at Rutgers University.