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Evaluation of the program of media culture in media education of students of primary schools


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Ciboci, Lana. (2018). Evaluation of the program of media culture in media education of students of primary schools. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Information Science.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij informacijskih i komunikacijskih znanosti) [mentor Labaš, Danijel].

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More than ever, the media are involved in the lives of children and young people, who spend most of their free time with them. For quality co-existence with the media, it is essential to possess knowledge and skills on how to use, analyse, critically assess and create media content (Aufderheide, 1992), i.e. required are media literacy skills. “The purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages to develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens in today’s world.” (Scheibe, Rogow, 2012: 36) Media literacy, as the result of media education (cf. Pérez Tornero, 2008 as cited in Borg, Lauri, 2011: 6), is considered the logical extension of traditional literacy (Hobbs, 1997 as cited in Scheibe, 2004), and it is vital in order for media users to be able to know how to interpret and critically assess media content, to respect cultural differences, to be critical towards media abuses and active participants in civil processes (Mihailidis, 2009a: 38). For comprehending and understanding the terms used in this area, in this paper is used the terminology that was used by Jon Dornaleteche-Ruiz, Alejandro Buitrago-Alonso and Luisa Moreno-Cardenal (2015: 178), according to which education is the process, literacy is the result and competences are „the set of skills that must be developed to achieve the result“. Media literacy is often confused with information literacy, which is based on researching, finding and assessing information from various sources and with various meanings (Grizzle, Carme Torras Calvo, 2013: 50); however, there are numerous differences between media and information literacy (Livingstone, Van Couvering, Thumim, 2008). Alton Grizzle and Carolyn Wilson (2013: 18) emphasise that information literacy implies defining information needs, finding and accessing information, analysis, organisation and ethical use of information, communicating (conveying) information, as well as using ICT skills to process information. On the other hand, media literacy implies understanding the role of the media and media functions in democratic societies, as well as the conditions by which the media can achieve their functions, critically assessing media content, as well as using the media for self-expression, intercultural dialogue and democratic participation (Grizzle, Wilson, 2013: 18). Among the key reasons for the existence of media education and learning about the media, Len Masterman (1985) emphasises the importance of recognising different media influences such as advertisement and violent content, as well as the influence that public relations and politicians have on the media, whereby, as he highlights, the influence of the media and communications technologies will be even greater in the future. John Pungente (as cited in Reichmayr, 2001: 11-12) also highlights that, due to numerous ideological and value messages that are conveyed via the media, as well as our understanding of the world that is often based on media reporting, imposed is the need for media education, and all with the objective of strengthening media users from the earliest possible age. The importance of media literacy of youth becomes crucial for their coping in society that is changing very rapidly under the influence of communications technologies (Lee, 2010: 2). Media literacy consists, first of all, of the skill of analysing media messages and their critical observation (Silverblatt, 2001; Pungente, 1996: 9). Namely, the end objective of media literacy is the critical understanding competence “which involves the ability to search, select, and analyze the information and content, and understanding the media environment, as well as the economic and social development in which those contents are created and spread” (PérezTornero et al., 2010: 1). About the need for media literacy and possessing media competences is especially considered within the context of prevention of potentially negative impacts of media content. In order for media users, especially children as inexperienced consumers of media content without life experience, to protect themselves from the impacts of advertising, violent content, imposed ideals of beauty etc., it is important for them to know how to recognise and assess such media content. Numerous studies have shown that the key media literacy skills are best acquired by practical activities (Scheibe, 2004) on the basis of their own media experiences (Bilici, 2014: 76). The production of content means not only knowing how to use certain media for creating their own content (written, visual, audio or audio-visual), but also how and when to link them, and knowing what methods are appropriate for specific publics, for specific purposes and under specific circumstances (Scheibe, Rogow, 2012: 50). The production of media contents should encourage critical thinking about the media (Hobbs, 2004: 49). Hobbs (1998 as cited in Cheung, 2016: 70) emphasises that many teachers consider that young people cannot become critical users of media content until they have experienced themselves the process of creating media content. Required for a successful increase in media literacy is cooperation between teachers, school employees, media experts and parents (Potter, 2005: 321 as cited in Bilici, 2014: 75). However, the most important role should be assumed by educational institutions, where, accentuates Hobbs (1994 as cited in Inan, Temur, 2012: 271), lies the greatest responsibility for increasing the media literacy of children. Len Masterman (1994 as cited in Erjavec, 2005) underlines four key models of media education in European education systems: media education as a specialised subject; media education as a part of various subjects, such as history, geography, language; media education as a free activity, as well as media education as part of an existing subject, usually the first language. As in many countries of the European Union (see Emedus, 2015; ANR TRANSLIT, 2015), in Croatia, media education takes place primarily through the first language, i.e. through media culture, which is one of the components of the Croatian language subject in primary school. The main tasks of media culture, according to the syllabus and programme for primary school (Vican, Milanović Litre, 2006: 25), is developing the ability of communicating with media – theatre, film, television, radio, press, comic and computer; reception of theatrical performances, films, radio and television shows, as well as training the pupil for assessing radio and television shows and films. According to the aforementioned syllabus, media culture is a part of the Croatian language course already from lower primary school (grades 1 to 4, where one teacher teaches all subjects). The emphasis is placed on film (Vican, Milanović Litre, 2006: 27-28). Although the primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and Croatian language teachers are the main bearers of media education in Croatia, they themselves are not trained for teaching about such topics because, during their regular studies, they did not have sufficient subjects to gain media competences (Kanižaj, Car, 2015; Ciboci, Osmančević, 2015; Ciboci, Hobbs, Kanižaj, 2016). For this reason, in the future, necessary above all else are modifications to study programmes educating future teachers. Besides formal education, an important role in achieving media literacy is played by informal education, whereby special focus must be placed on civil society organisations that, in recent years, have been working hard on increasing the media literacy of children and young people, as well as parents, teachers, educators and expert associates in educational institutions. Igor Kanižaj, in his report to the European Commission, highlighted that, in Croatia, there are 33 key stakeholders important for the area of media literacy in Croatia, among which 14 derive from civil society (European Audiovisual Observatory, 2016: 206). Among them, worthy of special mention are Telecentar, the Association for Communication and Media Culture, the Croatian Film Association, Pragma, Step by Step Parents Association, Centre for Missing and Abused Children, Partners in Learning Association, and the Kids Meet Art Association. Although media culture has been present in the Croatian language subject for many years already, to this day, no research analysing in detail its structure, content and effectiveness has been conducted. There is not even a representative study on media literacy of children in primary school. In this paper, three surveys were conducted, whose main goal was to determine the level of media literacy of eighth grade pupils and to analyse the effectiveness of media culture programmes anticipated by the Croatian language programme and syllabus for increasing the media literacy of Croatian primary school pupils. The specific goals of the research were to analyse the existing media culture content in Croatian language textbooks from grade one to grade eight, as well as to research the attitudes of Croatian language teachers and lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) on the weaknesses and qualities of the existing media culture programme. The research was conducted in three phases. Analysed in the first phase were textbooks and supplementary teaching materials from the Catalogue of Compulsory and Supplementary Teaching Materials for the Croatian language for the 2014/2015 School Year from Grades One to Eight, in order to determine the content of media culture in all grades of primary school. It was crucial to investigate how many teaching units on media explain the fundamental media terms, encourage pupils to use media in class, to analyse and critically assess media content, as well as to create their own media content, with clear instructions on how to do so. Analysed in the research were 1852 teaching units from the Croatian language subject, whereby in 524 teaching units, media culture contents were the primary or secondary topic, while in 1328 teaching units, the media were only mentioned in passing. Through analysis, it was determined that all teaching materials follow the media culture syllabus and programme as set out in the Primary School Curriculum and Programme (Vican, Milanović Litre, 2006). The research results showed that the contents were outdated, and that the media and devices that children spend the most time on – Internet, video games, tablets, mobile phones – are rarely the topic of teaching units in the teaching materials for the Croatian language subject. In addition to the obvious outdatedness of teaching materials, significant responsibility is placed on lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and Croatian language teachers, who, if they want to work on increasing media literacy in a contemporary and quality manner, must themselves prepare content to be utilised in the classroom. It was shown that the teaching units rarely encourage pupils to analyse and critically assess media contents and, in them, children are rarely taught how to create their own contents. Without developing the ability to analyse and to critically assess, we cannot talk about a quality media literacy programme in Croatian primary schools. The results obtained from the analysis of textbooks and accompanying teaching materials for the Croatian language subject clearly show that lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and Croatian language teachers cannot rely on these materials when preparing classes for the media culture module. This is another argument to the thesis that quality media education in Croatia depends, first of all, on the work and effort of lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and Croatian language teachers who are responsible for its implementation. Conducted in the second phase of the research was testing of media literacy among 1000 eighth grade pupils in the City of Zagreb. Namely, the growing emphasis on increasing the media literacy of all members of society had led to the question of measuring media literacy, which is necessary in order to determine advancements in media education (Hobbs, 2010: 43). As part of various studies, many have attempted to construct a methodological apparatus for testing media literacy (Hobbs, Frost, 2003; Dekelver, Nijs, De Maesschalck, 2014; Arke, Primack, 2009). Research conducted in 2009 by EAVI (European Association for Viewers' Interests) and the Danish Technological Institute was based on research on media literacy to date (Ofcom, Eurostat, Eurobarometer), as well as on new criteria created for the requirements of that pilot study (Celot, Pérez Tornero, 2009: 25). An adapted version of the questionnaire was used in this doctoral dissertation. The questionnaire is fully adapted to children and contents of media culture in Croatian primary schools, and it represents the first such methodological apparatus created in Croatia. Namely, according to publicly available information, up to date, no research examining the level of media literacy of primary school children has been conducted. The research results have shown that eighth grade children have access to nearly all media in their households, and in most cased in their rooms. It has been shown that the pupils lack even the most basic knowledge, such as recognising media types, as well as knowledge on the frequency of their publication. Many pupils do not differentiate mass media from the devices on which they access media content, although, they thereby self-assess their own knowledge about the Internet and television as high. Furthermore, pupils are unfamiliar with their own rights, which belong to them according to laws related to the question of media content, as well as the most banal things which they learned about within the media culture programme, such as names of individuals who shot the first films and, for instance, cyberbullying. Without basic knowledge about media, it is impossible to expect a noteworthy level of analysis and critical assessment of media content. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that eighth grade pupils consider that information from the media are reliable for the most part, whereby they are most weary of information on the Internet. When talking about creating media contents, children mostly create such content for entertainment purposes, whereby implied are photographs and audio-visual clips. Creating other media content, such as news, reports and blogs, is limited to individuals. When taking into consideration all of the research results, most eighth grade pupils in the City of Zagreb possess a medium level of media literacy. Concerning access to media and media contents, as well as knowledge of media, most eighth grade pupils in Zagreb possess a high level of media literacy. While the research showed excellent results in the area of access and knowledge of the media, in the future, much more emphasis within media education will have to be placed on encouraging critical assessment and creating media content among primary school pupils. Namely, it has been shown that most pupils possess a medium level of media literacy in the area of analysis and critical assessment of media contents and creation of media contents. Although the research refuted the hypothesis that pupils possess only a basic level of knowledge on critical assessment of media contents and the results showed a much better situation than expected, the stated results show that it is precisely in this area in the future that it is necessary to direct more attention and to place maximum effort into encouraging the development of critical thinking among pupils, as well as to encourage them to create more of their own media contents, not only for entertainment, but also for education and information purposes. Given that media culture is obligatory only in compulsory education, it is important for all children to possess, by the end of their schooling, an advanced level of media literacy, because after this period, they are left completely on their own. An important role in the media education process is played by the teachers themselves. Therefore, in the final phase of the research, analysed were the advantages and disadvantages of media culture as one of the components of the Croatian language subject from the perspective of lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and Croatian language teachers, who are the bearers of the media culture programme in Croatian primary schools. Participating in the research were 17 lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and 16 Croatian language teachers. In this part of the research, the objective was to discuss with teachers the research results obtained in the first two phases, and to investigate how many hours annually are actually dedicated to media culture, what they think of the media culture contents, about their own media knowledge, how satisfied they are with the existing media culture curriculum, as well as what they would emphasise as its positive and negative aspects. The teachers emphasised that they are dissatisfied with the media culture programme in schools, and consider it an inadequate model of increasing the media literacy of children. As the greatest problem, teachers emphasised the problem of their own lack of competence for the implementation of media culture in schools because, although they are responsible for increasing the media literacy of children in Croatia, they, themselves, during their compulsory education, did not have sufficient subjects dedicated to media and media culture. Therefore, imposed as a first step in improving the quality of the media culture programme is the need for modifications to the curricula of HEIs where future lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and Croatian language teachers are educated. It is necessary to introduce in study programmes more compulsory subjects dedicated to media, with an emphasis on all types of media. It is also necessary for study programmes educating future teachers to keep up to date with the development of new media and technologies. It is necessary for such content to include, besides theory, numerous practical examples of work with pupils in school. Teachers have also underlined the poor equipment available in schools, as well as the lack of educational teaching materials for the implementation of media culture. Also important is an increase in the number of hours dedicated to media culture, whereby teachers consider that this is possible only if the number of hours dedicated to Croatian language in schools is increased. Currently, lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and Croatian language teachers emphasise that one hour monthly is dedicated to media culture; however, many of them admit that they conduct the media culture classes at the end of the semester if sufficient time is left at their disposal and if the pupils do not have to additionally practice grammar. They also admit that they conduct the media culture lessons in one semester given that, in order to watch a film, more than one school hour is necessary. Consequently, many admit that they enter into the records one thing, while, in reality, they carry out something entirely different in their lessons with pupils. The research has shown that teaching media culture depends a great deal on the enthusiasm of the teachers themselves. Given that the quality of teaching media culture depends on the individuals themselves, especially concerning the number of hours that teachers dedicate to media culture, it can be concluded that not all children in primary school have the same conditions for increasing media literacy. On the basis of the conducted research, it can be concluded that, necessary in the future, are essential changes within the educational system. It is important, first of all, to ensure more hours for media culture within the educational system, media culture should be maximally included in the educational system from grade one, the programme and contents of media culture should be more detailed, more contemporary and adapted to rapid technological changes. It is also important to adapt existing and to prepare new textbooks that will completely be dedicated to media culture. It is also essential to change study programmes where future lower primary school teachers (grades 1 to 4) and Croatian language teachers are educated, and it is crucial to enable professional development in this area, which will follow, from one year to the next, the technical developments of the media. For the quality implementation of media culture, it is also necessary to equip schools with media, especially new technologies, to ensure financial support for school papers, as well as to ensure teachers have supplementary teaching materials that they will be able to implement in class and while working with children, as well as to encourage the cooperation of teachers and librarians on increasing media literacy.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: media culture, media education, elementary school, children
Subjects: Information sciences > Media and communicology
Departments: Department of Information Science
Supervisor: Labaš, Danijel
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij informacijskih i komunikacijskih znanosti
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2018 13:27
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2019 23:15

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