- Does teaching with popular culture clips increase cognitive performance on summative student outcomes?
- Does teaching with popular culture clips increase affective attributes in learning? (engagement, self-efficacy, interest)
According to the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE.net), “media literacy education in North America is seen to consist of a series of communication competencies, including the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information in a variety of forms, including print and non-print messages”. To clarify, “Media literacy is the ability to encode and decode the symbols transmitted via media and the ability to synthesize, analyze, and produce mediated messages. . . Media literacy education is the educational field dedicated to teaching the skills associated with media literacy”. Using popular culture in the classroom is a standard practice in media literacy education. Indeed movies and TV shows make up the bulk of the texts used for analysis and dissection. However, using popular culture clips as a support rather than the primary emphasis of the curriculum is much less common in the field and really should be considered more.
My guess is that because popular culture significantly impacts many Americans of all ages it is likely that learner’s cognition would not be left untouched or affected. Indeed, traditional cognitive learning theory supports the idea of designing instruction focused on building upon current learner perceptions or schemas. Thus implementing popular culture content by design may not only lead to further engagement, but potential increase in cognitive abilities and memory enhancement. Beyond just influencing learners as a cultural or structural apparatus, the question then is whether pop culture could actually be infused successfully into curriculum to improve learner’s ability to meet the learning outcomes for a course.
I've had this idea for quite some time, and have been pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback I've gotten by a variety of people. I am not sure what I will do if it turns out I don't get the grant I've applied for, but something I've learned is that even if I don't move on it right away --the idea will still be here.