The question as to whether television is a tool critical for aiding the acquisition of knowledge has been the subject of debate among scholars. Some scholars argue that television is a hindrance to the process of learning hence should be left out of the learning set up. In a seminal review on the role of media in education, one scholar points out that media is not a determinant of the outcomes of learning rather the content presented is what determines the learning outcomes. He concludes his research in stating that the media is basically “ a mere vehicle of delivery” hence it does not determine the learning outcome of the student. It has also been found that viewers are more likely to recall information when it is presented in a combination of auditory, visual and verbal format. Cognitive skills and the ability to comprehend have been found to be more enhanced as a result of the use media as a means of instruction. In addition to this, it has also been found the use of media as a means of instruction also enhances the ability of the students to utilize specific codes to create messages.
On the other hand, there are scholars who argue that television and viewing of different types of media can enhance the learning process particularly for the modern student who is surrounded by various forms of electronic media. The National Institute on Media and Family supports this school of thought in stating that their findings indicate that watching of television hinders children from reading therefore affecting the development of their literacy skills. This is based on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress conducted in 2000 which showed that students who spent more than 6 hours watching television got lower scores than those who spent less than 3 hours watching television. There are also scholars who remain undecided as to how media influences the learning outcomes hence do not support or oppose its inclusion in the learning set up.
It is against this background that a secondary school teacher conducted a study in order to review the use of film and television in the classroom. One of the responsibilities of the secondary school English teacher is to pass on the art of language acquisition to his students. In order to attain this goal, the secondary English teacher who conducted the study conducts an elective course in which he instructs seniors on critical thinking and writing with the aid of film and television. The researcher had previously observed that the students who enrolled for the critical viewing course posted better results in the acquisition of literacy skills as compared to those who enrolled in traditional English courses. This study was therefore an attempt to ascertain this observation.
Description of the participants
The participants in the study were drawn from a rural high school and were predominantly white. The rural high school comprised of 1000 students out of which the seniors were drawn in order to participate in the study. The study had an equal number of male and female participants. The participants in the study were seniors who were enrolled in an elective course that involved the use of film and videotapes as the main instructional tools. Two surveys were conducted in order to determine the effect of the critical viewing course on the reading and studying habits of students. The first survey questionnaires asking 64 students who were in 12th grade at the start of 2003 spring semester which medium was easier to learn from in addition to determining their reading habits and television viewing habits. The second survey entailed involved asking 23 students who had undertaken the critical viewing course if the course had helped them gained insight into elements of literature such as genre, plot and characters. Assessments were also conducted in order to compare the efficacy of the use of television versus traditional reading which involved a group of 24 students drawn from the critical viewing class in the spring of 2003 and 19 students in the critical viewing class of the fall of 2003. Another assessment was conducted in the spring of 2003 involving 24 students from the English class and 23 students from the critical viewing course; the assessment was conducted further in the fall of 2003 involving 18 students in the English class and 22 students in the critical viewing course. This assessment entailed asking the students to apply literary terminology that had been taught during the English class or been part of the critical viewing course.
Key questions that were addressed within the study
The following are pertinent questions that are addressed in the study: what is the effect of critical viewing to the acquisition of literacy skills? Does critical viewing aid in better retention and application of literal terminology as compared to traditional learning of terminology?
The first question forms the basis for the surveys that were conducted by the researcher in the spring and fall of 2003. The first survey was geared towards determining the reading and television viewing habits of 64 twelfth grade students in the English and critical viewing classes. In order to answer the first question, the students were asked to point out the form of medium they felt was easiest to write about and which one they thought was most beneficial in helping them recall facts.
The second question formed the basis for the assessments that were conducted by the researcher that were geared towards determining whether the critical viewing had been pivotal in assisting the students to understand fundamental literary elements such as plot, character and genre. The assessment entailed getting a group of students to read the story “The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe then asking them to write the details they could recall. This was followed by a session in which the students watched a movie by the same title and then wrote the details they could recall from the movie.
Evaluation of the research
The existing research in the study draws out both sides of the argument: it points out to the fact that media may not necessarily influence learning outcomes or could also be a deterrent to the learning process but also points out the fact that viewing of the right content on media may have a positive influence on the comprehension skills of students. In outlining the demerits of the use of media, the existing research goes on to show what previous studies have shown; data from the National Assessment of Education Progress indicates that students who watch television for more than 6 hours per day get lower scores than those who watch television for more than 3 hours per day. On the other hand, the existing research also points out to findings that indicate that viewing could enhance the recall abilities in addition to active participation in absorbing content. According to the Association for Educational Communications Technology, there is evidence that shows that the integration of critical viewing to the learning set up enhances knowledge. Ultimately, the existing research in the study is more inclined towards supporting the positive benefits of media in the acquisition and application of literacy skills; a position that is supported by the findings of the study.
The sources used in the research are credible given that they can be accessed and the information given can be verified. The research could have been based on relational theory of research. This theory seeks to explain the relationship that exists between dimensions or characteristics. In this case, the research study seeks to explain the relationship between media viewing and acquisition of literacy skills. The relational theory of research is developed by correlational research. This type of research involves the measurement of the dimensions in the natural states. This is often done through interviews and surveys; data is gathered through self report mechanisms. In this case, surveys and assessments were used to gather the data.
Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (2003, February 8). Retrieved November 11, 2008, from The handbook of research for educational communications technology: http://www.aect.org/intranet/publications/ edtech
Clarke, R. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media. Review of Educational Research , 445-459.
Teresa, R., & David, N. (2005). The connection between media viewing and literacy skills: An action research study . Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, 139.
Walsh, D. (2002 ). Kids don't read because they can't read . The Education Digest , 20-30.
Central issues in the action research case study