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Preparing teachers for critical media literacy education

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Title:
Preparing teachers for critical media literacy education portraits of sociopolitcal development
Added title page title:
Portraits of sociopolitcal development
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Morgenthaler, Deirdre J. ( author )
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Denver, Colo.
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University of Colorado Denver
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English
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Doctorate ( Doctor of philosophy)
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University of Colorado Denver
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School of Education and Human Development, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Education and human development

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Subjects / Keywords:
Mass media in education ( lcsh )
Media literacy ( lcsh )
Teachers -- Training of ( lcsh )
Mass media in education ( fast )
Media literacy ( fast )
Teachers -- Training of ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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This study examined participant's experiences in an eight-week graduate level critical media literacy course that introduced the participants to the concept of critical media literacy and critical theories about media. Lawrence-Lightfoot's (1997) qualitative portraiture research method was used to uncover themes and capture participant's perspectives as they relate to the two overarching research questions framing the study: First, do the participant portraits reveal gains in critical media literacy development? Second, at the end of the course, did the participants perceive the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)? Six portraits were completed including; four study participants, the course, and the researcher. The data consisted of online observation of participant discussions, transcribed course assignment and discussion content, questionnaires, reflective field notes, and individual interviews. The portraits show that all the participants demonstrated evidence of growth in terms of critical media literacy by the end of the course. Watts' (1999) five-stage theory of sociopolitical development was used in the portraits to frame participant's growth in understanding and knowledge of the political, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media. Growth in regards to sociopolitical development was not obviously revealed for all the participants. Additionally, gains in critical media literacy and sociopolitical development were not easily assessed as they did not appear to occur in a linear or consistent way (Watts, Griffith, Abdul-Adil, 1999). Finally, there was a significant discrepancy between the observed and self-reported gains in critical media literacy and sociopolitical development of participants. These findings reinforce the importance of recognizing that growth in regards to sociopolitical development and critical media literacy is nuanced and may include inconsistencies, regressive tendencies, stagnancies, and fluctuation throughout the process of the development of critical consciousness. This study points to a need for future research focusing on the unique challenges of teaching critical media literacy and sociopolitical development in an online environment, time-frames in a course setting to address concepts like sociopolitical development and critical media literacy, models of critical consciousness development and their relationship to sociopolitical development and critical media literacy, and identifying specific strategies to promote sociopolitical development, critical media literacy development, and critical consciousness.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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System requirements: Adobe Reader.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Deirdre J. Morgenthaler.

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University of Colorado Denver Collections
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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987250912 ( OCLC )
ocn987250912
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LD1193.E35 2016d M67 ( lcc )

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Full Text
PREPARING TEACHERS FOR CRITICAL MEDIA LITERACY EDUCATION:
PORTRAITS OF SOCIOPOLITICAL DEVELOPMENT
by
DEIRDRE J. MORGENTHALER
B.A., Oklahoma State University, 1997 M.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2008
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment Of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Education and Human Development
2016


2016
DEIRDRE J. MORGENTHALER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
11


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Deirdre J. Morgenthaler has been approved for the School of Education and Human Development Urban Ecologies Program by
Margarita Bianco, Chair Carlos Hipolito-Delgado Laura Summers Shelley Zion
Date: December 17, 2016
iii


Morgenthaler, Deirdre J., (PhD, Education and Human Development)
Preparing Teachers for Critical Media Literacy Education: Portraits of Sociopolitical Development
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Carlos P. Hipolito-Delgado
ABSTRACT
This study examined participants experiences in an eight-week graduate level critical media literacy course that introduced the participants to the concept of critical media literacy and critical theories about media. Lawrence-Lightfoots (1997) qualitative portraiture research method was used to uncover themes and capture participants perspectives as they relate to the two overarching research questions framing the study: First, do the participant portraits reveal gains in critical media literacy development? Second, at the end of the course, did the participants perceive the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)? Six portraits were completed including; four study participants, the course, and the researcher. The data consisted of online observation of participant discussions, transcribed course assignment and discussion content, questionnaires, reflective field notes, and individual interviews. The portraits show that all the participants demonstrated evidence of growth in terms of critical media literacy by the end of the course. Watts (1999) five-stage theory of sociopolitical development was used in the portraits to frame participants growth in understanding and knowledge of the political, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media. Growth in regards to sociopolitical development was not obviously revealed for all the participants. Additionally, gains in critical media literacy and sociopolitical development were not easily assessed as they did not appear to occur in a linear or consistent way (Watts, Griffith, Abdul-Adil, 1999). Finally, there was a significant discrepancy between the observed and self-reported gains in critical media literacy and sociopo-
IV


litical development of participants. These findings reinforce the importance of recognizing that growth in regards to sociopolitical development and critical media literacy is nuanced and may include inconsistencies, regressive tendencies, stagnancies, and fluctuation throughout the process of the development of critical consciousness. This study points to a need for future research focusing on the unique challenges of teaching critical media literacy and sociopolitical development in an online environment, time-frames in a course setting to address concepts like sociopolitical development and critical media literacy, models of critical consciousness development and their relationship to sociopolitical development and critical media literacy, and identifying specific strategies to promote sociopolitical development, critical media literacy development, and critical consciousness.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I do recommend its publication.
Approved: Margarita Bianco Carlos P. Hipolito-Delgado
v


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This study marks a personal milestone of self-acceptance that would not have been possible without the support of my family, friends, and colleagues.
I am especially grateful to my husband Eric, for his love and for keeping our family fed, literally and figuratively, throughout this journey. You are an amazing person and I am so grateful that I get to share my life with you. To Anne, Peter, Todd, and Andres: thank you for your support through this journey.
For my daughters Isabel and Mary Kate: the moment you were born this work began. Your lives inspired my passion for media literacy. It is my hope that this experience serves you as a model of perseverance and possibility for your futures as smart, creative, funny, and brave women. Iz-zy, your nurturing soul lifts me up and inspires me to be a more patient and loving person. Mary Kate, your witty humor is a testament to your ability to see the bright side of everything. I cant wait to see what mountains you two move.
For my mother, Betsy and my stepfather, Lon: your tireless optimism, encouragement, and support are undoubtedly the only reasons I am able to claim this accomplishment. I share this with both of you and will always be grateful that you never let me give up on my dream.
Thanks to my dad and M. J. for their love, support, and encouragement and for inspiring me with their adventurous, generous spirits.
Thank you to my tribe of sister-women that have sustained my spirit over the years, especially my siblings and cousins. Susan and Leigh, thank you for always answering your phone. I love you more.
To my committee: Shelley Zion, thank you for believing in me and helping me understand the responsibility and possibility of exceptional leadership and scholarship. Margarita Bianco, thank you for your inspiring work with Pathways2Teaching, and for your support throughout this process. Laura Summers, I learned to love research and writing in your qualitative methods course and will forever be grateful for your advocacy and support in the early stages of my adventure.
Finally, I am immensely grateful to my Dissertation Advisor, Carlos Hipolito-Delgado, for his gift of delivering motivation, positive critique, and encouragement. Thank you for taking the risk and working with me, and for modeling the type of scholar, professional, and mentor I aspire to be.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION..............................................................1
II. LITERATURE REVIEW........................................................5
People and Media.........................................................5
Media, youth, vulnerability, and oppression...........................7
Media Literacy as a Critical Pedagogy....................................9
Sociopolitical Development and Media Literacy........................11
Teacher Sociopolitical Development and Critical Education............17
Transformative Learning Theory.......................................18
Media Literacy Education in the U.S..................................19
III. METHOD.................................................................25
Portraiture.............................................................25
Context..............................................................27
Voice................................................................28
Relationships........................................................28
Emergent Themes......................................................28
The Aesthetic Whole..................................................29
Research Procedures.....................................................30
Setting..............................................................30
Participants.........................................................31
Data Collection......................................................33
34
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Data Analysis.................
Credibility and Trustworthiness
42


IV. ANALYSIS
44
Portrait I: Researcher................................................44
Portrait II: The Course...............................................47
Portrait III: Sarah...................................................56
Portrait IV: Carolyn..................................................73
Portrait V: Mallory...................................................84
Portrait VI: Matthew..................................................95
V: CONCLUSION.............................................................105
Summary...............................................................105
Discussion............................................................106
Research Question One..............................................106
Research Question Two..............................................Ill
Limitations...........................................................112
Implications..........................................................113
Expectations of Student Growth.....................................113
Encouraging and Supporting Critical Dialogue in Online Courses.....114
Encouraging Action.................................................115
Assessing Growth...................................................115
Future Research.......................................................116
Conclusion............................................................117
VI. REFERENCES ...........................................................119
VII. APPENDICES...........................................................130
viii
A. PRE-COURSE QUESTIONNAIRE
130


B. MEDIA DECONSTRUCTION EXAMPLES
132
C. ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS...................134
D. SAMPLES FROM CODING SPREADSHEETS.................135


LIST OF TABLES
TABLE
1. Watts Five-Stage Theory of Sociopolitical Development (Watts, Griffith, & Abdul-Adil,
1999)................................................................................ 15
2. Identifying Sociopolitical Development via Participant Responses and Key Question.....38
3. Portraiture Framework and Aspects of the Inquiry Process..............................40
4. Searching for Emergent Themes: Portraitures Five Modes of Synthesis, Convergence, and
Contrast..............................................................................41
5. Five Key Questions of Critical Media Literacy (Center for Media Literacy, 2013)......50
6. Sarah Sample Coding Matrix............................................................70
7. Carolyn Sample Coding Matrix..........................................................82
8. Mallory Sample Coding Matrix..........................................................93
9. Matthew Sample Coding Matrix.........................................................102
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CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
In the United States, exposure to media is becoming an inescapable component of childrens lives. Media is a powerful environmental health factor, as influential as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Research into the harmful effects of media on children is extensive, and although total avoidance of media may be impossible, the evidence is clear that excessive, or de-velopmentally inappropriate use carries grave health risks for children and their families (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016; American College of Pediatricians, 2016; Boston Childrens Hospital, 2015; Lin et al., 2016). The Center on Media and Child Health cites numerous studies that confirm a negative relationship between electronic media use (specifically, the internet) and depression, internet addiction, and brain development in youth (Boston Childrens Hospital, 2015). The National Institutes of Health found that social media use was significantly associated with increased depression in a nationally representative sample of young adults (Lin et al., 2016). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that rapid brain development during the first years of life is best supported by human interaction and that screen time should be avoided completely for children under the age of two (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011). In addition to this recommendation, the AAPs most recent policy statement on media violence goes further to suggest that pediatricians incorporate and prescribe media diets as routine aspects of wellness examinations and urges the entertainment industry to eliminate gratuitous portrayals of interpersonal violence and hateful, racist, misogynistic, or homophobic language or situations unless explicitly portraying how destructive such words and actions can be (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016, p. 7). The American College of Pediatricians (2016) reported similar findings, warning that excessive exposure to media, especially while very young, has been associated with low-
1


er academic performance, increased sleep problems, obesity, behavior problems, increased aggression, lower self-esteem, depression, and increased high-risk behaviors (including sexual activity at a younger age); therefore, it encourages parents to become media literate and to limit their childrens screen time.
Since media literacy is an important skill for living in an environment that is constantly barraged by powerful images, words, and sounds, the need for media literacy education could not be more urgent. Like other forms of literacy, the purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens in todays world (National Association of Media Literacy Education, 2007). Critical media literacy expands upon traditional notions of literacy to include viewing, creating, and sharing all forms of media and teaches the importance of being mindful about the roles that media play, both positive and problematic, in shaping social thought (Hobbs, 2013; Kellner & Share, 2009). The argument for media literacy education in the United States and abroad is extensive and spans four decades of research (Auf-derheide, 1993; Bauerlein & Walesh, 2009; Bazalgette, 2010; Buckingham, 1993; 2008; Che-row-OLeary, 1993; Considine,1992; Duncan,1988; Golay, 1973; Giroux, 2010; Hobbs &
Moore, 2013; Jenkins, 2006; Kellner, 1988; Jhally, 2000, 2006; Jolls, 2016; Kincheloe, 2002; Kubey, 1997; Masterman, 1976, 1998; McLaren, 1994; Prensky, 2001; Potter, 1998; Share,
2015; Thoman & Jolls, 2008; Tyner, 1998; Worsnop, 1994). Despite extensive support for critical media literacy education from the fields of communication, education, and public health, little has been published on the implementation and measurement of critical media literacy education efforts (Hobbs, 1998; Lenhart et al., 2007; Masterman, 2001; Prewitt, 2009; Share, 2009; Tyner, 1998). Moreover, few scholars have concentrated on teachers perceptions of critical me-
2


dia literacy education and how to prepare teachers to teach critical media literacy (Buckingham, 2013; Hart, 2013; Hobbs, 2005; Kellner & Share, 2007). Therefore, a need exists for research that investigates the best ways to introduce educators to critical media literacy and how to support their students in doing the same. Stein and Prewitt (2009) argue that one of the challenges facing the implementation of critical media literacy education in school curricula is that despite the growing recognition of critical media literacy education as a field of study, few researchers have focused on its implementation (p. 232). Hobbs (2005) contends that teachers are the ones leading the effort to bring critical media literacy into classrooms, although it is impossible to know just how many teachers are doing so, and to what extent (p. 74). The goal of this study is to address this gap in the research by providing insight into teachers experiences as they navigated a graduate-level education course focusing on media literacy education and critical theories about media.
Lawrence-Lightfoots (1997) portraiture method was used to uncover themes and capture the participants perspectives as they relate to the two overarching research questions that framed the investigation. First, do the participant portraits reveal gains in critical media literacy and sociopolitical development? Second, at the end of the course, did the participants perceive the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)? The use of portraiture as a research method provided a means of uncovering the participants perspectives and capturing the subtle nuances of those experiences by revealing convergent threads, illuminating metaphors, and overarching symbols that support a disciplined, empirical process of description, interpretation, analysis, and synthesis (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 1997). This study sought to provide an aesthetically complete interpretation of the experience through narrative development and the creation of individual portraits of the study participants, a portrait of the course itself, and a self-


portrait of the researcher. Portraiture is an inherently iterative methodology that seeks to identify important and relevant themes from observation and documentation (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 1997). As such, portraiture does not rely on pre-existing theory.
Making wise choices about media requires informed inquiry, independent thinking, and critical analysis. During the analysis and construction of the portraits, varying shifts in perspective, degrees of transformation, and depth of critical consciousness emerged thematically. Watts (1999) five-stage theory of sociopolitical development provided a framework to gauge participants growth in understanding and knowledge of the political, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media and was used to code participant narratives. Discrepancies between the participants perceived growth and the researchers assessment of their growth in regards to aspects of sociopolitical development and critical media literacy skills were the most predominant and consistent themes in the data. Further, none of the participants gains in critical media literacy skills and aspects of sociopolitical development were linear or continuous.
Although this study did not set out to determine the implications regarding specific pedagogical practices for the development of critical media literacy skills, the experiences described by the participants, along with the critical media literacy and sociopolitical development literature, provide valuable considerations for educators teaching critical media literacy and other subjects related to the development of sociopolitical development. This information can be used to inform teacher preparation and professional development programs and to augment future research about critical media literacy education by providing important insight into the learning experiences of educators surrounding critical media literacy and sociopolitical development.
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CHAPTER II
LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter outlines the research upon which this study is based. First, the complex relationship between people and media is described in terms of how media use and corporate media ownership contribute to the imposition of the media on vulnerable youth. Next, media literacy education is presented as a critical pedagogy capable of countering oppression and tied to promoting sociopolitical development through growth in understanding and knowledge of the political, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media. Finally, media literacy education efforts in the United States are discussed.
People and Media
The roles that media and new technologies play in the interrelationship between human connection and communication are complex and profound. More than five decades ago, Marshall McLuhan warned that there can only be disaster arising from unawareness of the causalities and effects inherent in our technologies (McLuhan, 1962, p. 254). Humans are not always able to see or predict the profound effects of a technology because we are so distracted by the content of a medium that it blinds us to the character of the medium (p. 9, emphasis added). McLuhans significant contribution to understanding the impact of new communication technologies upon the human experience theorized that a message, and the medium through which it is delivered, are inseparable, or the medium is the message (McLuhan, 1964, p. 7). McLuhan argued that technology is neither inherently good or bad for humans, but rather should be examined in terms of the message that is received and the social and personal change in dynamics that occurs as a result. Together, the consequences of a medium and a message are equal to their uniquely
5


human interpretations. Thus, the message of a television advertisement is not the story or drama that is produced, but the social or personal change in thought, action, or behavior that occurs as a result. For example, an evening news story may change a persons perspective on an event, but this is not a result of the nature of the content of the story; rather, this change comes about through the unintended consequence of how that story is interpreted. McLuhans impressive ability to understand the profound ramifications that these extensions, innovations, technologies, and inventions can have led to the following warning:
.. .if a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture. It is comparable to what happens when a new note is added to a melody. And when the sense ratios alter in any culture then what had appeared lucid before may suddenly become opaque, and what had been vague or opaque will become translucent. (McLuhan, 1962, p. 41)
As McLuhan described, the impact of media on society as a whole is tremendous.
The accuracy of what McLuhan prophesied in the 1960s about electronic interdependence is startlingly evident today. Thanks to media multitasking, U.S. adults will spend an average of more than twelve hours per day using media, which is nearly an hour more than the average in 2011, according to Nielsens Total Audience Report (Nielson, 2015). Numbers suggest that a saturation point is nearand that increased time spent with one medium will come at the expense of time spent with another (eMarketer, 2016). Interestingly, daily media use is now rising slowly, in comparison to the past, and is expected to grow by just three minutes between 2016 and 2018. Students entering college in the year 2017 will have never experienced a world without the internet or without instant, perpetual access to both information and each other.
Mediated messages are embedded and naturalized into our daily lives from the minute we wake up in the morning until we close our eyes at night. In 1983, approximately 50 corporations
6


controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. (Bagdikian, 2000). Today, 90% of U.S. media is controlled by six corporations: Comcast, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS (Bishop, 2015). The owners of these corporations are 15 billionaires who shape our world through their tremendous global reach via all forms of media communication as they control most of what we watch, hear, and read every single day through their television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels, and even many of our favorite websites (Vinton, 2016).
Media, youth, vulnerability, and oppression
Although the significance of this drastic increase in media use and the narrow messages being conveyed has an enormous impact on the human connection experience, many argue that children are the most vulnerable. Their constant search for their own identity, combined with youthful naivete, arguably makes children particularly vulnerable to media influences and marketing strategies (Jhally, 2006). School-age children are considered to be among the most vulnerable to the risks of mediated messaging as consumerism is largely driven by a desire for connection and acceptance, along with social pressures relating to having the right clothes, shoes, cars, computers, and cell phones that are needed to fit in (Dell Vecchio, 1999; Quart; 2003; Rushkoff, 1996; Sutherland et al., 2002). Steinberg and Kincheloe (2004) argue that the media encourage a culture of consumption that places a greater emphasis on what one has than what one does. Among their arguments is that corporate-controlled media promote fast foods and other products that lead to obesity and childhood diseases; they also sell toys and games that promote violence. In an effort to create loyal customers, major corporations exploit the insecurities of young people and also heavily influence the media that they consume. Corporate media are
7


also prone to sending negative messages and reinforcing the stereotypes and prevailing value systems that could have deleterious effects on uncritical consumers (Buckingham, 2013).
According to Jhally (2000), advertisers tap into our collective consciousness by connecting the possession of material things with happiness. Advertisers commodify the human desire for connection, friendship, and intimacy, and reify notions of morality and culture. Like a drug, the happiness that commodities provide creates a normalization of the feeling of happiness that is provided by the market. Although we may be addicted to things, what we really crave is human connection. Giroux (2013) argues that although young people, in particular, are an easy target in the media war, the situation is even more grim for youths whose lives are shaped by geographic location, wealth, class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and (dis)ability. According to Ward (2004), there is a high correlation between African-American high school students, low racial self-esteem, and multiple forms of media use. Naraji and Buckinghams (2010) report on the state of youth and media confirm that the number of hours spent using electronic media (i.e., television, movies, and video games) are highest among poor students of color, exceeding 6.5 hours per day (Goodman, 2003; Nielson Media Research, 2000). This finding led the American Academy of Pediatrics (2011) to issue a policy statement that encouraged schools to develop a critical media literacy curriculum. As Buckingham argues, this has led scholars to create a critical media literacy pedagogy that empowers urban youth to deconstruct dominant media narratives, develop much-needed academic and critical literacies, and create their own counter-narratives to those presented by the media, which are largely negative depictions of urban youth and their communities (Duncan-Andrade, 2004; Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2005; Goodman, 2003; Grossberg, 1994).
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Some argue that because of their early exposure to digital technologies, young people think and learn differently from older generations. Prensky (2001) refers to these digital natives as native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games, and the internet they are empowered and confident media creators and experts in finding information. There is an ongoing debate regarding how media impacts the lives of this new generation of young people and the ways that growing up in a rapidly changing, media-driven environment with instant and perpetual access to information has changed how people communicate, gain knowledge, and process information (Jenkins, 2006; Kubey, 2010; Rideout et al., 2010; Prensky, 2001; McDonnell, 2001). Tapscotts (1998) Growing up Digital and Prenskys (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants argue that those who are being raised in the internet era are fluent in finding information, creating content, and are very comfortable in a media environment. However, regardless of how adept young people may be at interacting with media, others argue that the medias constant presence is perhaps so normalized that the stream of ideological messages that is shaping young peoples identities and behaviors is being left unchallenged (Buckingham, 1990; Hobbs, 1998; Jhally, 2006; Kellner & Share, 2005; Masterman, 2001; Share, 2009).
Media Literacy as a Critical Pedagogy
The theoretical constructs that guide my understanding of, and passion for, critical media literacy education are founded upon Paolo Freires tradition of critical pedagogy. Freires (1973) critique of traditional educational approaches argued that deficit-oriented approaches to education are oppressive and maintain social inequality. Freires work focused on the indivisibility of information, education, pedagogy, politics, and power. Freire believed that education makes sense because women and men learn that through learning they can make and remake themselves, because women and men are able to take responsibility for themselves as beings capable
9


of knowingof knowing that they know and knowing that they don 7 (Freire, 2004, p. 15, emphasis added). Critical pedagogies like critical media literacy offer the promise of educating students to be able to reject the official lies of power and the utterly reductive notion of training as a substitute for informed modes of education (Giroux, 2013, p. 125). Shor (1980) defines critical pedagogy as;
.. .habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional cliches, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse, (p. 129)
At the core of critical pedagogy is the notion of praxis, which is the concept by which students and teachers commit to education that leads to action and a reflection of that action (Duncan, 2008, p. 24). Critical media literacy provides a means of uncovering the political, exposing problems, and providing meaningful ways to act upon those problems. If used as a means of problem-posing education, critical media literacy can be used to help individuals develop their ability to critically perceive the way they exist in the world with which, and in which, they find themselves (Duncan, 2008, p. 83). From there grows the ability to see a reality that can be altered (p. 83). In this way, critical pedagogy is emancipatory in that it demands that one adopt a concept of oneself and the rest of society as being made up of conscious beings enacting conscious intent upon the world (Freire, 2000, p. 70).
Vygotsky (1962,1978) proposed that a zone exists when a less-developed individual or student interacts with a more advanced person or teacher, thereby allowing the student to achieve things that would otherwise not be possible when acting on his or her own. By inviting students to develop their critical thought and action on various subject matters, the teacher herself devel-
10


ops as a critical-democratic educator who becomes informed of the needs, conditions, speech habits, and perceptions of the students; using this knowledge, she designs activities into which she integrates her own special expertise. A classroom that employs a critical literacy curriculum, like critical media literacy, creates a zone into which teachers invite students to deepen their interrogation of knowledge in its global context. Besides learning in-process how to design a course for students, the critical teacher also learns how to design the course with the students. This mutual learning process develops the democratic competence of all parties involved by negotiating the curriculum and sharing power.
The National Association of Media Literacy Education (2007) describes the Core Principles of Media Literacy Education as follows: Media literacy education a) requires active inquiry and critical thinking about the messages we receive and create; b) expands the concept of literacy to include all forms of media (i.e., reading and writing); c) builds and reinforces skills for learners of all ages. Like print literacy, those skills necessitate integrated, interactive, and repeated practice; e) develops informed, reflective and engaged participants essential for a democratic society; f) recognizes that media are a part of culture and function as agents of socialization; and g) affirms that people use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages. Media literacy aims to expand the concept of literacy to include different forms of media culture, information and communication technologies, and new media, as well as deepen the potential of literacy education to critically analyze relationships between media and audiences, information and power (Kellner and Share, 2009).
Sociopolitical Development and Media Literacy
Based on Freires (1970) theory of critical consciousness, sociopolitical development explains how sociopolitical consciousness and action cooperate to form a praxis capable of affect-
11


ing social change. Watts, Williams, and Jagers (2003) refer to sociopolitical development as consciousness and engagement in actions to change inequitable structures. Prilleltensky (2003) suggests that sociopolitical development may be the best, most sustainable type of prevention and promotion that marginalized groups can pursue because of how it encourages youth to interpret and change how they experience oppression. Watts and Guessous (2013) describe sociopolitical development as the evolving, critical understanding of the political, economic, cultural, and other systemic forces that shape society and ones status within it, and the associated process of growth in relevant knowledge, analytical skills, and emotional faculties (p. 1788). Watts (2003) et al. state,
Sociopolitical development emphasizes an understanding of the cultural and political forces that shape ones status in society. We use it to describe a process of growth in a persons knowledge, analytical skills, emotional faculties, and capacity for action in political and social systems. SPD is not limited to resisting oppression in the interest of justice, however; the capacity to envision and help create a just society is an essential part of the process as well (p. 185)
Sociopolitical development can be viewed as a continuum along which a person can make grand leaps from acritical to liberatory or shift slightly from acritical to adaptive. Sociopolitical development is built upon ones sense of connection with a community organization, sense of agency and the capacity and readiness to recognize social roots of problems. Constructs that are identified as being precursory aspects of sociopolitical development include; sense of community, cognitive empowerment, experience of agency, sociopolitical control, social attribution, and commitment to societal involvement and community connection. Sense of community through community organizations is defined as a composite of (a) ones affective bond to her geographic community, (b) ones sense of connection to one or more community organizations, (c) the degree to which one perceives the organization(s) in which she participates to be influen-
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tial in the larger community, and (d) the perceived ability of the organization(s) to connect the individual to the larger community. This type of affective connection to a community organization and the organizations perceived efficacy in effecting change have been described as key facilitators of sociopolitical development (Hughey, Speer, & Petersons, 1999). Cognitive empowerment is viewed as a corollary of sociopolitical consciousness and includes the understanding of three dimensions: (a) that power develops through relationships, (b) political functioning, and (c) how manipulating ideology is a feature of power. Seeks to capture a persons understanding of the way that power works and how change may or not be possible because of the manifestation of power in relationship to the issue being interrogated (Speer & Peterson, 2000). Experience of agency refers to the extent to which participants have been involved in community or political projects that allowed them to exert and further develop their individual sense of agency (Morgan & Streb, 2001). Sociopolitical control assesses thinking, motivation, and personality as they relate to a persons belief that their actions in the social and political system can lead to desired outcomes. (Zimmerman & Zahniser, 1991). Social attribution refers to the degree to which individuals ascribe their problems and the problems of people in their communities to sociopolitical sources versus intrapersonal sources. For example, neighborhood violence may be explained as a function of community impoverishment by someone with a high orientation toward social attribution, whereas someone with low-level social attribution may explain the same phenomenon in terms of characteristics inherent to individuals who perpetrate violence, e.g., poor moral character (Watts and Guessous, 2013).
A related concept to sociopolitical development is critical consciousness. Watts, Diemer, and Voight (2011) describe critical consciousness as having three components: critical reflection, political efficacy, and critical action. Further, critical consciousness is thought to produce a posi-
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tive self-concept, a sense of agency, and motivation to reduce sociopolitical inequity (Diemer, Hsieh, & Pan, 2009). Though the concepts of critical consciousness and sociopolitical development are highly related, sociopolitical development is privileged in this study as it closely related to notions of critical media literacy. For this study, Watts (1999) five-stage theory of sociopolitical development was used frame participants growth in understanding and knowledge of the political, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media (See Table 1).
In sociopolitical development, the relationship between consciousness and action explains how praxis capable of effecting social change. Freire (1973) labels action unguided by a realistic understanding of sociopolitical forces as mechanistic action and consciousness unaccompanied by action as verbalism. These two possible outcomes of engaging with ones sociopolitical reality, mechanistic action or verbalism, represent incomplete forms of sociopolitical development. Both consciousness and action are necessary for true praxis and for sociopolitical change (Watts & Hipolito-Delgado, 2015).
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Table 1
Watts Five-Stage Theory of Sociopolitical Development (Watts, Griffith, & Abdul-Adil, 1999)
Stage of Sociopolitical Development Key Action Concept
Acritical Stage: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real differences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world (Rubin & Peplau, 1975). Challenge internal oppression: What contributions have African Americans made to the U.S. and the world? Critical thinking on class and race inequality: Why are the kids in this school (impoverished all-black) not allowed to take their books home when kids in other (affluent white) schools can?
Adaptive Stage: Asymmetry may be acknowledged, but the system mining it is seen as immutable. Predatory, antisocial, or accommodation strategies are employed to maintain a positive sense of self and to acquire social and material rewards. Encourage critical thinking about socialization and psychic alienation: What does this message tell us about the populations being represented? Decision making and values clarification: What is the connection that is being made between the population being represented and lifestyle?
Pre-critical Stage: Complacency gives way to awareness of and concerns about asymmetry and inequality. The value of adaptation is questioned. Cognitive reframing: How many explanations can we come up with for the inequality we observe?
Critical Stage: There is a desire to learn more about asymmetry injustice, oppression, and liberation. Through this process, some will conclude that the asymmetry is unjust and social change efforts are warranted. Critical consciousness: What events now and in the past maintain the inequities at hand? Moral reasoning: Is the inequity a sign that something is wrong with society? Why? Why not?
Liberation Stage: The experience and awareness of oppression is salient. Liberation behavior (involvement in social action and community development) is tangible and frequent. Adaptive behaviors are eschewed. Community activism, solidarity, and liberation behavior: What can you do (personally and as a group) to improve the situation?
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Critical media literacy has a focused lens on ideology and the ways that gender, race, class, and sexuality are conveyed through the media. It provides ways for educators to include alternative media in its analysis to include the subjects of pleasure, social context, power, and resistance (Kellner & Share, 2009, p. 34.). A critical media literacy approach also expands literacy to include information literacy, technical literacy, multimodal literacy, and other attempts to broaden print literacy concepts to include different tools and modes of communicating. In addition to these elements, critical media literacy brings about an understanding of ideology, power, and domination that challenges relativist and apolitical notions of most media education in order to guide teachers and students in their explorations of how power and information are always linked. Combining cultural studies with critical pedagogy, critical media literacy addresses issues of gender, race, class, and power by connecting the traditional pedagogy of critical media literacy to cultural studies and critical pedagogy (p. 5). The goal of critical media literacy is to bring an awareness of the role that media plays, both positively and problematically, in shaping social thought by revealing the ways that ideology, power, and domination are inherent how that information is conveyed (Kellner & Share, 2009).
Sociopolitical development has the potential to enhance and support the goals of critical media literacy education in the same ways that cultural studies support critical pedagogies. Fusing sociopolitical development with critical media literacy encourages a broader sense of empowerment and more opportunity for action than either is capable of alone. Sociopolitical development helps connect awareness of the oppressive potential of the media to a skill set that encourages action. We are better prepared to challenge oppression when we are critically literate and possess a well-developed sociopolitical lens.
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Teacher Sociopolitical Development and Critical Education
Critical educators view teaching as a political act (Apple, 1990). As youth who have been historically marginalized learn to read and write (for example), a critical approach to education helps them to re-read and ultimately re-write the world. The power of new media in the lives of young people cannot be denied for example Digital Natives are sophisticated media producers that possess skills that are undoubtedly beneficial to success in a media age, giving them leverage and a voice that, some argue facilitates a more democratic society through the development of more literate and thoughtful participants (Gee, 2003; Hill, 2009; Hobbs, 2007; Kress, 2003; Morrell, 2008). As educators, we must look at the possibility of bringing in powerful ways of working with youth and media to improve academic development and meaningful social exchange.
Educators require opportunities to learn and practice acting as advocates of change to develop the sociopolitical development necessary to resist oppression in educational systems. Zion, Allen, and Jean (2015) investigated how universities and school districts can provide learning experiences for educators that prepare them to do meaningful equity work in the context of public education. They contend that
In order to enact a critical pedagogy, teachers must develop robust skills to shift the status quo, by sharing power and voice with students, engaging students in conversations about identity, group membership, institutional systems of power and privilege, and issues of equality and social justice; and developing their skills to engage colleagues and administrators as allies for student voice projects (p. 920).
Zion, York, and Stickney (2017, under review) state that when educators embark on work that resists oppression it is often isolated and fragmented within classrooms because of restraints including school expectations, a lack of time, teaching to standards, and the difficulty facilitating
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such sensitive subject matter (p. 38) One of the recommendations the authors make to support teachers in successfully collaborating with students to resist oppression is to provide professional development opportunities that focus on increasing teachers understanding of themselves in terms of race, power, and privilege, societal systems that work for or against their students, and the importance and nuance of various cultural contexts (p. 39). Critical media literacy pedagogy provides the opportunity for this type of investigation and reflectionin essence enhancing the sociopolitical development of teachers so they can deliver critical education to their students. A goal of this study was to investigate how teacher participation in a critical media literacy course impacted sociopolitical development.
Transformative Learning Theory
Gaining media literacy skills assumes that the participant experiences something transformative. In the context of this study, the teachers took part in a course that was created to foster the development of media literacy skills and to foster perspective change. Transformative Learning is described by Mezirow (2000) as a process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning perspectives, habits of mind, mindsets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more justified to guide action (pp. 7-8). Mezirow (2003) describes transformation as a cognitive rational process: Transformative learning is understood as a uniquely adult form of metacognitive reasoning. Reasoning is the process of advancing and assessing reasons, especially in those that provide arguments supporting beliefs resulting in decisions to act. Beliefs are justified when they are based on good reasons (p. 58). Mezirows theory of perspective transformation suggests that the process of perspective transformation takes place in ten stages that evolve from a disorienting dilemma, self-examination, critical assessment,
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recognition of shared assumptions, exploring new roles, planning action, acquiring new knowledge, trying new roles, and building confidence in new roles. Transformational learning theory was used in the preliminary course design to foster transformative experiences as much as possible. Assignments were created as disorienting dilemmas that would hopefully lead to the next stages of transformation for students.
Media Literacy Education in the U.S.
In its effort to address the need for a more collective media literacy approach in the U.S., the Aspen Media Literacy Leadership Institute published the Aspen Report defining media literacy as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms (Aufder-heide, 1993, p. 2). According to the writers of the report, at the heart of media literacy is informed inquiry. Through a four-step inquiry process involving awareness, analysis, reflection, and action, media literacy assists young people to acquire an empowering set of navigational skills that help make wise choices possible, develop independent thinking, and foster critical analysis. The Center on Media Literacy lists its Five Core Concepts that a media literate person should understand about advertisements and the media (Share, Thoman, & Jobs, 2010). First, a person must be able to recognize that all media messages are constructed. Then, they must be able to understand that media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules and that different people experience the same media message differently. Finally, a media literate person must be able to recognize the agendas and embedded values that are included in the messages that are perpetuated in order to gain profit and/or power.
A protectionist stance regarding media education is rooted in opposition to, and fear of, the media. As a conservative approach to media education, it is focused on the need to inoculate viewers against the addictive and exploitive risks of media exposure. This approach assumes that
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the audience is passive and is based on the magic bullet theory, or model of communication, that posits that messages are directly received and entirely accepted by the audience (Kellner &
Share, 2007). Critics of this anti-media approach suggest that it will cause students to either regurgitate politically correct responses to media critique or reject the idea of media literacy altogether (Buckingham, 1994). However, certain aspects of a protectionist approach can be useful when students address the naturalizing processes of ideology and the interrelationship with social injustice, but it is deeply flawed when it is promoted through dogmatic orthodoxy and undemocratic pedagogy (Kellner & Share, 2007, p. 8).
Media literacy efforts in the current context of the U.S. education system have been limited to the standardized curriculum set by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Critical thinking, inductive and deductive reasoning, the ability to use and create media, information literacy, collaboration skills, self-direction, and invention are, indeed, crucial aspects of gaining an education. However, a close examination of how these terms are conceptualized reveals that the subsequent effect of these iterations on a truly critical pedagogy is misleading, problematic, and limiting. The language of the Common Core State Standards Initiative is promising; however, the terminology used in this seemingly progressive pedagogy is in reality the banking model of education disguised as emancipatory education. Where one might expect to find the merger between life and technology being critically deliberated, there is instead a stagnancy of dialogue, apolitical discourses, discipline, and curriculum mandates that refuse to speak to the broader public issues and bioethical dilemmas of a troubled landscape. The result is a false sense of security for those that view Common Core State Standards Initiative as something other than a model of education which transforms students into receiving objects and attempts to control thinking
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and action, leads men and women to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power (Freire, 1970, p. 77).
In the past decade, critical media literacy has entered into the dialogue of the U.S. education system as the Common Core Standards Initiative and its 21st Century Learning component that aims to prepare students for the demands of the modern workplace. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 21st-century interdisciplinary themes are to be woven into core subjects to promote an understanding of academic content at much higher levels (Framework for 21st Century Learning, 2011). Following suit, the American Association of School Librarians adapted their Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians (2010) to include 21st Century Learning Skills. Along with other educational subject areas, school libraries are viewed as essential to the development of these types of learning skills presumably because they provide access to the resources and tools required for learning the skills deemed essential in the 21st century. The pedagogical assumptions that underpin the 21st Century Learning Skills are based on the belief that critical thinking, reasoning, development of information literacy, application of collaboration skills, self-direction, and invention evolve out of the foundation of oral language (Framework for 21st Century Learning, 2011).
When it comes to implementing this initiative, the burden falls on teachers who have been given a tall order to fill but little direction to guide them. For Colorado educators, it is up to each local education provider to design and adopt curricula that is aligned with the 21st Century Learning Skills themes. The Colorado Department of Education provides detailed intended learning outcomes for educators and administrators, but do not indicate how to achieve these outcomes. What mastery of grade level content looks like, according to the Colorado Department of Education, is evidenced in the mastery of grade level expectations, but what those are
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exactly is not clear. To rectify this, the Colorado Department of Education is planning to disseminate exemplars of student mastery to further support clarity of grade level mastery (Frequently Asked Questions About Standards Implementation, 2010).
The difficulty of implementing 21st Century Learning Skills within the existing curriculum as a standard lies in not only the lack of a clear definition, but also in how it can be taught and assessed. Many articles written for use by adult educators are concerned with increasing the understanding of the Common Core Standards and focus on the importance of concepts like critical thought and student voice, but do not provide teachers with approaches to implement the themes in their core subjects (Education Week, 2010). Without an inquiry into pedagogical approaches to implementation, educators will continue to find teaching and assessing these concepts a confusing, if not altogether impossible, task. Given the problematic nature of the present state of the U.S. education system, widespread media education awareness and praxis in the classroom is a complicated dilemma.
Although most states now have some form of written curriculum standards that include media literacy principles, the U.S. still fails to meet the international standard in media education (Hobbs, 2005; Kubey, 2001; Masterman, 2001; Tyner, 1998). Tyner (1998) argued that the changes that need to be made to include critical media literacy education in the current curriculum are challenging because of the decentralized nature of the American education system and the fact that many policy decisions are made district, school or teacher level. Media literacy is not a new concept and it has been successfully implemented in Australia, Canada, Sweden, and the U.K. for many years. Ironically, the United States finds itself in the position of being the worlds leading exporter of media products while lagging behind every other major English-speaking country in its formal delivery of media education (Kubey, 1998). Nonetheless, some
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public efforts have been made in this regard and there is a lot of research being conducted that focuses on curriculum and pedagogy, even though critical media literacy has not made its way into American classrooms in any significantly measurable way. Advocates continue to push critical media literacy into the forefront by publishing research, creating curriculum guides, and leading and attending media education workshops. Resources, such as the Center for Media Literacys Media Lit Kit, outline the core ideas of critical media literacy, including foundational concepts and implementation models to successfully structure teaching activities, as well as full lesson plans to help teachers get started (Share et al., 2015).
One area of media education that is gaining traction in the U.S. is in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects. The focus of media pedagogy in this area is driven by the belief that the U.S. education system has fallen behind other countries with regard to its students performances in STEM-related tests, college performance, and careers. One major source for these comparisons is the Trends in International Math and Science Study, which is an international test administered every four years to fourth- and eighth-graders (Gonzales, 2009). This study proves that the claim that U.S. students are falling considerably behind in math and science subject areas is misleading. In 2007, U.S. fourth-grade students scored fifth in science and ninth in math, while eighth-grade students scored tenth in science and sixth in math (p. iii). American students currently score in the top 12-25% of countries in most grade levels and subjects (p. iii). Programs focused on increasing STEM scores and encouraging students to major in STEM subjects at college often target girls and at-risk youth, based on the belief that STEM skills and knowledge have an emancipatory function by improving the students ability to envisage the possibility of earning a college degree that will ultimately give them an edge in the STEM job market. The National Center for Women in Technology reports that, to date, girls are
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avid users of digital media and have made considerable advances in activities such as gaming (Ashcraft et al., 2012; Kafai et al., 2008; Pew Research Center, 2012). Yet, girls remain significantly underrepresented when it comes to the creation of media and new technologies, like the programming and designing of games. For example, girls comprise only 19% of all computer science advanced placement test takers, and young women earn only 18% of all computer and information science bachelors degrees (College Board, 2012; National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). These numbers are even lower for girls and women of color (Margolis et al.,
2008).
Many factors contribute to creating the gap in the U.S. education system where critical pedagogy and critical media literacy education should exist, and some blame the negligence and irresponsibility that has arisen from No Excuses and other quick-fix urban education reform efforts, opportunity gaps, and a neoliberal agenda that has left a generation of young people vulnerable to a social assault by a media arsenal (Giroux, 2010). Buckingham (2013) puts it bluntly: technology will liberate us or it will enslave us; either it will expand our potential or it will reduce us; either it will revitalize our social and cultural life or it will take us all to hell (p. 91).
The purpose of this study was to uncover themes and capture the participants perspectives as they related to the two overarching research questions that framed the investigation:
First, do the participant portraits reveal gains in critical media literacy development and sociopolitical development? Second, at the end of the course, did the participants perceive the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)?
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CHAPTER III
METHOD
The qualitative study design was phenomenological in approach and allowed me to capture the participants perspectives and also allowed for flexibility needed to adapt the research design depending upon what was discovered during the study (Patton, 1990). According to Mer-riam (2009) Qualitative researchers are interested in understanding how people interpret their experiences, how they construct their worlds, and what meaning they attribute to their experiences. According to Strauss and Corbin (1990) qualitative methods are appropriate in situations where one needs to first identify the variables that might later be tested quantitatively, or where the researcher has determined that quantitative measures cannot adequately describe.
Portraiture
Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) describe portraiture as a research method designed to push the boundaries of research by recognizing the value of the artistic process and the inherent artistry of science (p. 22). Portraiture aims to create an aesthetically complete interpretation of people, lives, or institutions. To accomplish this, a portrait is created within its cultural context and takes shape through engaging in an authentic dialogue between the researcher (portraitist) and the subject. Each navigates their own interpretation of the subject and the resulting piece of artistic representation is rich with meaning and resonance and becomes an arena for navigating the empirical, aesthetic, and ethical dimensions of authentic and compelling narrative (p. xv). The goal of portraiture is to make the aesthetic, or intended meaning, of a portrait as clear and as coherent as possible through the careful representation of the context, voices, and relationships within the experience being studied, along with the emergent themes (p. 29).
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Investigating a phenomenon centered on human interaction and communication requires an understanding of the contextual factors that make up an individuals experience, including that of the researcher (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997). Portraiture places the voice of the researcher in plain view for the reader in order to make the researchers contextual interpretations evident. Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) describe the importance of making the researchers voice of preoccupation explicit for the reader as follows:
It is important that she record her framework, identifying the intellectual, ideological, and autobiographical themes that will shape her view. The more conscious and explicit she can make this voice of preoccupation the more open she will be to what she encounters in the field. We see here a central paradox of this phase of the portraitists work: the articulation of early presumptions does not inhibit or distort her clear vision; rather it is likely to make her lens more lucid, less encumbered by the shadows of bias. Making the anticipatory schema explicit allows for greater openness of mind (p. 45).
This section provides an overview of the portraiture research method used to guide the study design and data collection. Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) envisioned the method of portraiture as a means of pushing the boundaries of research to improve it in a way that places value on the artistic process and the potential artistry of science (p. 22). Uniquely suited to capture human perspective and experience, Portraiture honors the authority, wisdom, and knowledge of the individual. Through careful attention to, documentation and interpretation of voice, context, relationships, and emergent themes throughout the research process, Portraiture aims to create an aesthetically whole interpretation of people, lives, or institutions. To accomplish this, a portrait is created within cultural context and takes shape through authentic narrative between the researcher (portraitist) and the subject navigating their own interpretation of the subject into a resulting piece of artistic representation that;
is rich with meaning and resonance and becomes an arena for navigating the empirical, aesthetic, and ethical dimensions of authentic and compelling narrative (p. xv). The aes-
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thetic aspects of production .... include the keen use of descriptors that delineate, like line; dissonant refrains that provide nuance, like shadow; and complex details that evoke the impact of color and the intricacy of texture. The forms that are delineated convene into emergent themes and the interrelationship of these themes is woven through the connections of their content against the backdrop of their shared context (p. 29).
Like a piece of traditional art, readers and viewers are eagerly invited to interpret the portrait however, it is up to the artist or researcher to make the aesthetic, or meaning, clear (Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis, p.). To do this, Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) outline five aspects for researchers to consider in the creation of a portrait. Context, voice, relationship, emergent themes, and the aesthetic whole are aspects of portraiture that Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) recommend should frame all stages of the inquiry process; context, voice, relationships, and emergent themes.
Context
Conveying the context of a study makes it possible for readers to appreciate potentially unforeseen factors that may influence their interpretation of the matter at had. Contextual factors can range from broad stroke descriptions of historical or environmental events to more narrow descriptors of personal, internal factors. It is up to the portraitist to choose the elements that receive focus or those that should remain in the background. Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) recommend that in order to capture the broad and narrow strokes of a narrative that one should start with a broad description that gradually narrows its focus nuance. For example, conveying the context of a situation might begin with observation of the subject and narrow focus in such a way that it reveals the researchers personal bias or motives.
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Voice
Voice refers to giving value and equal attention to both the individual and collective voices of all involved in the research process. In Portraiture, the researchers voice is collected and interpreted throughout and within the process along with the subjects voices as they contribute to the analysis. While researcher's voice is always present, it is also always controlled, disclosing bias and motivations about the study so as not to overshadow other voices as the participants point-of-view is at the center of the portrait.
Relationships
The relationship between the researcher and the participant is made up of dialogue and interactions with degrees of intimacy that shift and change over time. With this in mind, Law-rence-Lightfoot suggests that the researcher should remain attentive to this change and remain aware of how contextual factors may or may not impact the quality and dynamics of the relationship between the researcher and the subject. Flexibility through conversations and dialogue is encouraged along with an openness that allows participants to authentically share their thoughts. Emergent Themes
Attending to emergent themes is a vital aspect of portraiture. From the moment the study begins to take shape (in the researchers mind), the portraitist engages in an iterative process of researching in the field and analyzing the data. As she analyzes the data, she is interpreting and identifying or disregarding themes and preparing for the next visit. Themes emerge as the researcher engages in analytical questioning about the phenomena under consideration. When thinking about emergent themes, the portraitist must seek to identify common themes but resist the temptation to distill the flavor of the participants individual and unique perspectives. As with the aspect of relationships discussed earlier, watching for emergent themes occurs at every
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phase of the project. Before and after an interaction with a participant, the portraitist may gather preliminary ideas from documents or artifacts about the subject matter. During the visits the portraitist listens for, what Lawrence-Lightfoot calls repetitive refrains or formulations that recur either implicitly or explicitly in the environment, language used in conversation, and interactions among and with participants. Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) suggest that the researcher maintain and periodically refer back to a notebook or impressionistic record. The researcher should carefully document sources that are lending credence to particular emergent themes. Member checking or sharing and confirming the themes that emerged throughout the study with the participants is also a way to authenticate the interpretations that have developed.
The Aesthetic Whole
Finally, the researcher shifts attention to the development of the aesthetic whole. As mentioned earlier, aesthetics refers to work done to bring together the parts of the whole in order to construct the portrait. Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) eloquently state dual purposes of portraiture: to inform and inspire, to document and transform, to speak to the head and to the heart (p. 243). However, to accomplish this, the portraitist searches for patterns that help paint a picture of the life, events, or interactions that occurred. Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) suggest that the portraitist first attend to locating the overarching story, narrative, or gestalt that gives order and meaning to the data collected. Then the portraitist should consider how the data will provide structure to the constructed text. For example, there may be common threads that run through the stories of all the participants. The next consideration is to the form of the text, as this is the element that brings the stories to life; it is the texture of the details that are incorporated into the document. Finally, the portraitist strives for coherence in all aspects of the portrait.
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Is there an overarching theme located logically from the themes that emerged in various data sources? Are there sufficient details to provide texture and to paint the picture so that it is coherent and genuine?
The participant portraits that developed throughout the study were based on the following: (a) participants understanding of media literacy at the start of the course and general understanding of the nature of media and media literacy, (b) how their their understanding and perspective of media and media literacy changed or did not change (c) their perceptions of the online discussion boards as well as synchronous and asynchronous conversations that occurred throughout the semester, and (d) their intentions for using (or not using) what they have learned in the course and (e) how they perceive their change in perspective impacting their teaching in the future. The following section describes the procedures utilized to collect data for this study.
Research Procedures
Setting
This study took place in conjunction with an online course that was a required graduate seminar offered by a university in the western region of the United States that spanned one eight-week period in the summer of 2015. The course was also cross listed as an undergraduate course that satisfied a requirement of a three course certificate for those seeking a school library endorsement. There were a combination of thirty undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the course. Students accessed the course platform via Canvas, a web based course content delivery application. All assignments were submitted digitally and threaded conversations were asynchronous. Once a week there were synchronous web conferences.
For the context of this evaluation it was important for the researcher to get into the environment to capture the individual experiences of the students and instructors. To the qualitative
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researcher, e-observation provides researchers with the means to watch and listen to what participants do and say in the field (Liang, 2005). For some researchers, computer mediated communication is not an appropriate method for research, which seeks to observe the real world (Mann & Stewart, 2000). Recent studies, which focus on virtual communities, begin to challenge the basis of terms such as observation and natural context as used in traditional research (Mann & Stewart, 2000, pg. 84). Bianco and Carr-Chellman (2000) cautioned that online observation is perhaps one of the most difficult things to conduct in online learning environment inquiry, because we cannot even define if electronic space is the actual classroom. Observations of online environments requires the researcher to accept the online environment as a legitimate field from which to gather data. There are limitations, however, that cannot be ignored. It is important to note that the loss of physical interaction will likely reduce the richness of social behaviors between participants and important behavioral and emotional cues, such as a persons tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions, are absent (Mann & Stewart, 2000). To solve this dilemma, Liang (2005) suggests that the best approach is to use e-observation as a complementary method to other method, such as interview, and documentation analysisit should be noted that this study combined both e-observation, document analysis, and interviews.
Participants
According to Onwuegbuzie and Leech (2005) choosing a sample size should be based on an active process of reflection that is based on many factors, including the context, method of collecting data, and type of generalization (if any) needed (p. xx). For example, sample size recommendations for phenomenological studies range from 6 to 10 (Morse, 1994; Creswell, 1998).In this study for participants were sampled.
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The participants in the study were all students enrolled in graduate course offered at a large university in the west. All of the participants were currently educators working in kindergarten through grade twelve in a classroom or a school library setting. The participants ranged in age between twenty and sixty years of age and consisted of three women and one mane male. All of the participants were white. The analysis of four participants was determined to be adequate in that it was not too small that it would be too difficult to achieve data saturation, theoretical saturation, or informational redundancy nor too large that it would be too difficult to undertake a deep, case-oriented analysis (Sandelowski, 1995). The results section will go into greater detail about the participants.
Two weeks before the course started all of the students in the course were sent an email welcoming them to the course and providing an introduction to the study that was taking place and being conducted by myself, the instructor and the principal investigator. The main purpose of the email was to make clear that goals of the study (to learn more about teachers experiences in a media literacy course) and to also make it clear that participation in the study was voluntary, without obligation, and that there was freedom to withdraw from the study at any time. This email was followed up with another email sent one week before the course started. The email asked that those that were willing to participate in the study to indicate their consent via a privately accessed online web application REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture), a secure designed exclusively to support data capture for research studies. The online questionnaire served three purposes. First, the study was described in in detail and informed them of the potential risks and benefits including the potential for psychological and emotional risk to the participant as the learning process of self-reflection and the examination of values and beliefs may cause emotional discomfort, distress or be disconcerting to participants. It described how course
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content would be used as data in the study and that once the course has ended and grades have been submitted, those that agreed to participate would participate in one individual interview that will be conducted privately and at the participants convenience, either in-person, over the phone, or via the web. Second, the questionnaire was designed to obtain formal consent by asking the participants to select a button that stated I agree to participate in this study. Finally, selecting the I agree button brought the participants to the pre-course questionnaire (Appendix A) about media and topics related to media literacy and teaching, the answers to which were also stored on the REDCap server. I tried to protect the identity of the participants by not providing full descriptions of settings and by using pseudonyms.
Data Collection
The data consisted of online observation of participant discussions, transcribed course assignment and discussion content, questionnaires, reflective field notes, and individual interviews. In Reflections on Portraiture: A Dialogue between Art and Science (2005), Lawrence-Lightfoot explains coherent story that grows organically from the data and the observations of the researcher/portraitist. The participant portraits that developed throughout the study were based on data gathered through personal interviews, the transcription of group discussions with classmates, by observation, and a review of course assignments, documents, and video narratives. Throughout the course I journaled and kept reflective field notes to capture my experiences as the instructor and to document how I saw the students responding to the course. I used this journal to keep track of my thoughts, what I had witnessed, reflect upon possible emerging themes, describe changes in my perspective, aspects of the course that needed attention or new plans of action to move forward.
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Semi-structured interviews were chosen to allow respondents to identify and articulate their priorities and concerns. This methodology is well rooted in the study of education and takes into consideration the depth of context that captures human life. Interviews are described by Clandinin and Connelly (1990) as a means of capturing the experiences of human beings as they live in time, space, in person and in relationship. The one-on-one interviews can also be classified as a non-interview or an opportunity to engage participants through purposeful conversation (Lancy, 1993). In this study, the participants were asked broad, open-ended questions in a dialogue that resembles a discussion. The questions followed a funnel format starting with more open-ended questions that became narrower as the interview continues (Frey et al., 2000). Once the course had ended and the grades had been submitted, those that consented to participate in the study were identified, and individual interviews were conducted. I reached out to each participant via email to schedule the individual interviews conducted privately and at the participants convenience, either in-person, over the phone, or via the web. The interviews all ended up being conducted via video web chat per the participants choice and were video and audio recorded and then transcribed. The interview questions are included in Appendix C. The interviews took approximately 30-45 minutes. Ultimately, four key elements of the course content emerged as the most helpful in capturing the participants experiences. The video introduction assignment, the guided discussion in the threaded discussions, the five media deconstruction exercises, and the final interviews became the focal points of the analysis and revealed narratives that indicated of changing perspectives about media and the developmental journeys of the participants.
Data Analysis
Analysis in the case of portraiture seeks to record and interpret the perspectives and experiences of the people they [researchers] are studying, documenting their voices and their
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visionstheir authority, knowledge, and wisdom (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. xv). Lawrence-Lightfoots suggestions to make the search for convergent threads, illuminating metaphors, and overarching symbols follow a disciplined, empirical processof description, interpretation, analysis, and synthesisand an aesthetic process of narrative development that involves sifting through interview transcripts, observational narratives, field notes, documents, and journals in search of patterns that will order and scaffold the narratives (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. 31).
Attending to emergent themes was a vital aspect of the portraiture process and began from the moment the study started to take shape. Themes emerged as I gathered data and listening for what Lawrence-Lightfoot calls repetitive refrains, or formulations that recur either implicitly or explicitly in the environment, language used in conversation, and interactions among and with participants, carefully documenting sources that lend credence to emergent themes (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 1997, p. 30). Lightfoot and Davis (1997) suggest that the portraitist first attend to locating the overarching story, narrative, or gestalt that gives order and meaning to the data collected. When the final interviews were completed, I read through all data to get a comprehensive idea of what had been collected over the eight-week time frame. The next step required that I consider how the data could provide structure to the constructed text. For example, I was looking for common threads that ran through the stories of all the participants. To accomplish this step I started with one participant and read through each individual piece of data for that one participant. I also began to code passages with codes ranged in length from one sentence to a paragraph. The codes that emerged inductively consistently reflected the participants apparent depth of critical thought. For example, I coded the following passage as No critique, because it appeared that the participants answer was a simple response that, while an interesting
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anecdote, did not show any particular depth of thought or insight into the implications of the message.
One of the messages in that film that really stood out to me is that at about age 8, an equal number of boys and girls will say that they want to be the president when they grow up, and by the time they hit puberty, there are far less girls than boys who still have that ambition.
Other passages had more complicated codes. For example, the following passage was coded as Pseudo-critical.
As for other people, I believe most people I know also fall in the 3 category... I think that as we are younger, we have a more difficult time recognizing what is legitimate or not, and again as we get older, we tend to be less open or flexible with our thinking, so it can be easier for us to accept or dismiss things based upon our own bias.
Passages with the Pseudo-critical code demonstrated an appearance of self-critique and an
acknowledgement of personal bias towards media choices and attempts to demonstrate multiple
perspectives or tries to address dimensions of diversity in analysis of the media. However, there
was also evidence of underlying assumptions and stereotypes about groups. These passages had a
feeling that this is just the way things are mentality and self-centered lens that appears to be
superficially poised as outside their experience. The next passage was coded as Questioning
because the participant was beginning to use a wider lens but it was still limited in scope.
This message is being sent because healthy choice wants to be a relevant brand for young people who are responsible for buying their own food. They want to appeal to people who don't want to spend a lot of time cooking, but do want something that is "healthy" to eat. Positive messages: eat healthy, don't spend a lot of money to eat healthy. Negative messages: people will age out of their value, so find ways to cling to it... if this is someone you know that is embarrassing for them... you shouldn't speak so directly with people, being honest is awkward... Why are there only white people eating vegetables?
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Lightfoot and Davis (1997) stress the importance of striving for coherence in all aspects of the portrait and ask whether there is an overarching theme located logically from the themes that emerged in various data sources and it was during this process that the emerging themes overlapped considerably with Watts Five-Stage Theory of Sociopolitical Development (Watts, Griffith, & Abdul-Adil, 1999). As I continued to work read and look through each of the participants data sets it became clear that the Sociopolitical Development framework would be a helpful way to find the form of the text that would bring the story to life brings the stories to life and bring the texture of the details that are incorporated into the document (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. 32). Lawrence-Lightfoot (1997) states that overarching themes should be located logically from among the themes that emerged in various data sources and that there be sufficient detail to provide to create a coherent and genuine portrait. Though portraiture does not generally use an outside framework, because the connection to this framework appeared inductively and was not imposed, I deemed this to be appropriate for this analysis and decided to use the Sociopolitical Development framework to help make sense and give structure to the findings. It is the researchers opinion that the decision to use sociopolitical development as a frame work aided in providing an aesthetic whole to the portraits. Table 2 connects media literacy constructs (explained further in Table 5) with Watts sociopolitical development framework and provides an example of the guiding framework that was used to code and identify sociopolitical development via participant responses to the Five Key Questions of Media Literacy.
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Table 2
Identifying Sociopolitical Development via Participant Responses to Media Literacy Key Questions
Stage of Sociopolitical Development
Kev Ouestions Acr ideal Adaptive
Who created Answer is Pseudo-
the message? uncritical. critical re-
There is no sponse. Ap-
What creative critique. An- pearance of
techniques are swers are self-critique
used to attract surface level & awareness
my attention? and do not of bias to-
connect with wards media
How might the concept choices. At-
different peo- behind the tempt to
pie understand question. show multi-
this message pie views or
differently address di-
from me? versity in analysis but
What life- assumptions
styles, values and stereo-
and points of types about
view are repre- groups are
sented in, or evident.
omitted from, Problem is
this message? outside of ones con-
Why is this trol. Perspec-
message being tive is self-
sent? centered.
Pre-critical Critical Liberation
Begins to Answers and Demonstrates
question responses are action to coun-
and voice personal and teract the op-
an aware- demonstrate an pressive power
ness of the ability to see of media mes-
conse- examples of saging. Poses
quences of media influ- solutions and
media mes- ence in daily puts them into
saging. life. Speaks of action. Gets in-
Demon- personal expe- volved in media
strates con- riences related literacy advoca-
cern about to media mes- cy at personal,
unjust real- saging and organizational,
ities but identifies with community, or
does not negative con- national level.
see the sequences. Sees Involvement in
problem as media messag- social action
solvable or ing as a power- and community
pose solu- ful force with development is
tions to the significant con- tangible and
problem. sequences for a persons life. Expresses a desire to solve the problem or offers solutions. frequent. Adaptive behaviors are eschewed.
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The process of creating the portraits followed Lawrence-Lightfoots (1997) advice that careful attention and regard be paid to: a) the contextual significance of individual human experience; b) honoring the participants voice and providing a platform for the researchers voice to be heard throughout the study; c) giving value to all relationships as they evolved throughout the study, including the relationship between the study participants and the researcher; d) maintaining an iterative investigation that works to uncover emergent themes while recognizing the presence of preconceived notions, biases, or foregrounding beliefs that may impact the study and making those transparent for the reader; and e) creating a complete, aesthetically whole portrait of each subject and their experience (See Table 3).
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Table 3
Portraiture: Framework and Aspects of the Inquiry Process
Context Contextual factors can range from broad stroke descriptions of historical or environmental events to more narrow descriptions of personal, internal factors. It is up to the portraitist to choose the elements that receive focus or those that should remain in the background.
Voice The participants point-of-view is at the center of the portrait; however, value and equal attention are given to both the individual and collective voices of all involved in the research process. The researchers voice is always controlled, disclosing any biases and motivations behind the study.
Relationships Flexibility through conversations and dialogue is encouraged along with an openness that allows participants to authentically share their thoughts. The relationship between the researcher and the participant is based on dialogue and interactions with degrees of intimacy that shift and change over time. There must be an awareness of how contextual factors may or may not impact the quality and dynamics of the relationship between the researcher and the subject.
Emergent Themes Searching for emergent themes through five modes of synthesis, convergence, and contrast (see Table 4).
Aesthetic A complete, aesthetically whole portrait of each subject and their experience.
Whole
Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) state the dual purpose of portraiture as the following: to inform and inspire, to document and transform, to speak to the head and to the heart.
(p. 243). The portraitist draws out and constructs emergent themes using five modes of synthesis, convergence, and contrast (See Table 4). In order to accomplish this, the portraitist searches for patterns that help paint a picture of the life, events, or interactions that occurred.
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Table 4
Searching for Emergent Themes: Portraitures Five Modes of Synthesis, Convergence & Contrast
1. Repetitive Refrains that are spoken (or appear) frequently and persistently, forming a collective expression of commonly held views.
2. Resonant Metaphors: poetic and symbolic expressions that reveal the ways actors illuminate and experience their realities.
3. Themes: expressed through cultural and institutional rituals that seem to be important to organizational continuity and coherence.
4. Triangulation: to weave together the threads of data converging from a variety of sources.
5. Aesthetic Whole: construct themes and reveal patterns among perspectives that are often experienced as contrasting and dissonant by the actors.
I continued through the portraiture process using all of the aforementioned guidelines and with the intention of keeping true to the spirit of portraiture laid forth by Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997). Each participants data was analyzed and coded individually before the portraits were written. I wanted to keep each individuals experience as separate as possible before bringing them together into a coherent portrait of the entire experience. I began by writing my personal portrait and the portrait of the course using my field notes and personal observations to give voice to my own perceptions of the experience and to give the reader a better idea of how the course was structured. I then wrote the participants portraits, revisiting each portrait many times to maintain an eye on new or emerging threads.
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Credibility & Trustworthiness
According to Lincoln and Guba (1985), internal and external validity issues related to the qualitative data gathered are based on the extent to which the research is determined to be trustworthy and worth paying attention to (p. 300). Credibility refers to whether or not the reconstructions of the inquirer are credible to the constructors of the original multiple realities (p. 296). The trustworthiness of the data is rooted in the credibility of voices and personal histories. In addition, close attention will be paid to the quality of inferences made during the research process by maintaining transparency in the explanations of all stages of the research. Lawrence-Lightfoot and Davis (1997) cite Maxwell when discussing credibility and validity in a portraiture study:
Maxwell (1996) refers to this standard of credibility, this effort to construct a trustworthy narrative, as validity. Objectivity is not the standard for validity as it is in quantitative research. Maxwell speaks of it holistically as the correctness or credibility of a description, conclusion, explanation, interpretation, or other sort of ac count. Nor are you required to attain some ultimate truth in order for your study to be useful and believable. (p. 245)
To address issues of credibility and validity I attempted to triangulate my findings through multiple forms of data. Also, all of the participants were sent transcripts of their final interviews and once the information had been coded and portraits had been written, three of the participants received follow-up phone calls to clarify statements on their intended meaning. This was not a fully participatory examination of my findings but rather a clarification of questions and answers. None of the participants requested any changes. Finally, the coded frameworks were discussed with an outside observer familiar with the study, to allow for more categorical accuracy.
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The outside observer did not read and confirm all of the participant codes but discussed a sample of narratives and compared findings with the researcher based on their own judgement of a statement.
I chose to use portraiture as a method because of its high regard for context and for the fact that it gives equal bearing to all of the voices and relationships involved in the human experience (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997). Critics of portraiture argue that ascertaining the truth-telling capacity of the portraitist is impossible because the definition of truth is circular (English, 2000, p. 21). However, Creswell argues that the circular relationship between truth and truth-telling is what makes qualitative research perhaps more capable of capturing the nuance of human experience as research cannot exist independently from context because it impacts all interpretation of meaning (Creswell, 2013). I believe that portraiture is uniquely well-suited to capture human perspective and experience because it honors the authority, wisdom, and knowledge of individuals.
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CHAPTER IV
ANALYSIS
The portraits that follow are intended to provide the reader with an aesthetically complete interpretation of the course experience for the participants and the researcher through narrative development that carefully attends to context, voices, relationships, and themes that emerged throughout the analysis. First, I will present a portrait of the researcher, followed by a portrait of the course, followed by portraits of the four course participants. Each portrait is an interpretation and an artistic representation (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 1997). The contextual significance of the individual human experience, the participants and the researchers voices, all relationships within the environment, and maintaining an iterative stance that eagerly seeks to reveal preconceived notions were given careful consideration.
Portrait I: Researcher
The narrative that follows is provided to illustrate the intellectual and ideological motivations behind this research project. Describing them for the reader will provide insight into how certain events in the past inspired my research to this point.
As I was completing my masters degree in communication, I learned about the concept of critical media literacy in a course called Education Perspectives on Media Literacy. My experience in that course represents a pivotal moment in my life as it significantly shifted my worldview. In retrospect, that moment was unsettling. I am now able to recognize that, as new mother, I was dealing with how to fulfill the role of fierce protector. Re-examining my life goals and challenging my previously held notions of femininity and success made it clear that I held biases that were largely based on a fear of the unknown. The course lifted a veil that revealed the media as a more powerful force in my life than I had realized, and I began to understand more
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clearly how perceptions of myself and the world around me were being shaped by messages that I received from the media. Every standard against which I measured myself, such as my perceptions of what it meant to be happy, successful, and human, were constructed for anothers profit and not my own. This realization upset my sense of self. In this way, my experience in that course transformed my thoughts and behaviors and I began to be able to look at the world through a more critical lens. That experience was emancipatory. It provided me with the means to become a more active participant in my life and gave me the skills to exert greater control over my life as well, despite the apparent threat of media messaging and other assaults. As a parent raising two young girls, my research is also motivated by a sense of urgency. A journal entry from several years ago describes a typical day in my home:
Just home from my morning commute, I open the door entering my kitchen from the garage. I unload my tangled mess of bags, laptop, and purse onto the floor and survey the situation. My fifteen-year-old babysitter is planted on my couch in front of the enormous television that is currently tuned to the Disney Channel. I assume she is doing her homework on the laptop that is balanced on one knee. In the hand that is not being used to support the laptop, she appears to be texting in an impressive one-handed technique. Without looking up, she cheerily greets me with a Hey! I say hello back to her but she doesnt hear me because of the ear buds she is wearing. My five-year-old daughter jumps up from behind the coffee table where she was lying down watching the television. She immediately dives for my iPhone, that I had yet to put down (it has a special place), because she wanted to play a game on it or something. Well, hello to you, too! I replied sarcastically. My eight-year-old daughter hears this and slides off of her perch on the back of the sofa, walks backwards towards me, without taking her eyes off of the television, and without a word gives me a half-hearted side-hug before reassuming her previous position on the back of the sofa.
Moments like the one just described were not unusual, and I suspected that my experience was not uncommon, but I was alarmed. Although the four of us were typically in the same room together, we were choosing to disconnect from each other and to replace each others company with media and technology. The dominant and pervasive presence of the media in my home meant that a constant stream of advertised messages were being fed to my impressionable and
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vulnerable children. I feared that these experiences were chipping away at their fragile senses of autonomy and uniqueness as their young minds were being shaped by constructed perspectives regarding race, gender, culture, and society through family-friendly programming. I could sense our familys media appetite growing due to the constant pressure to be connected through means that were continually being presented to me as more convenient and efficient. I worried about the naturalization of violence and trauma my children were witnessing but I did not have the ability to articulate why I felt this way, or even give a name to the problem. I feared that I had not taught them enough about how the media works or given them adequate critical thinking skills that I knew they needed to shield their developing authentic voices from the pervasiveness of fabricated realities and ideologies.
As my daughters grow up, I find that the medias omnipresence continues to pose challenges to me in my daily life. Raising two teenage girls is presenting me with new and confounding parenting decisions that have to be made regarding social media, technology, and the role it will play in our family. It is getting hard to draw a clear boundary between acceptable amounts of screen time when school time, homework time, downtime, and family time often involve some form of technology. Adolescents socialize through media in ways that seem to change by the minute and even after spending an extensive amount of time researching the topic, I am finding it difficult to keep up and feel confident that I am protecting my girls from all of the dangers that media messaging and connectivity can expose them to. My research and interest in the topic of media literacy has changed over the years, but has always been guided by a desire to advocate for critical media literacy as an essential critical thinking skill to protect young developing minds from the alternate reality presented by the media. My assumptions are deeply embedded in my beliefs about the importance and power of critical media literacy. I believe that media messages
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are always conveying subjective messages. I have continued to seek out ways to make an impact and this ultimately led to my decision to pursue a doctorate in education. I realized that the one place that critical media literacy can be the most emancipatory and transformative is in the education system. An embedded critical media literacy curriculum is the ideal way to teach young people that the media is a powerful presence in their lives and deserves special attention and careful analysis. By working with teachers, my ultimate goal is to create experiences that they can then bring to the students in their classrooms.
Portrait II: The Course
The course design focused on helping educators identify opportunities and challenges for young people living in a digital media culture and a macro-sociological environment in which mass communication systems operate. The outcomes for the course include: (1) being more aware of the significant role of mass media, popular culture, and digital media; (2) analyzing and critiquing media literacy research and linking research with practical skills to create curricular items to integrate the teaching of critical media literacy education into classrooms; (3) fostering careful analysis and evaluation of media and understanding the complex interactions that take place between the reader/viewer and media texts, and the power of the media to transmit culture; (4) understanding the origins and evolution of critical media literacy education both in the U.S. and internationally; and (5) engaging in an informed discussion on issues relating to critical media literacy education. The goal of the course focused on ensuring that participants could analyze and critique critical media literacy research and also link research to developing practical skills to help them create curricular items to integrate the teaching of critical media literacy education into their classrooms. I wanted course participants to understand and learn instructional strategies to connect digital and critical media literacy to their learning in all topic areas. I hoped to in-
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crease their confidence in using a variety of media and digital technology tools and online sharing tools with their students in ways that connect to the existing curriculum. Finally, I hoped that the course participants would develop, implement, and assess a project that activates childrens digital and critical media literacy competencies.
Each week, course participants were expected to participate in the threaded discussion regarding that weeks reading and assignments. Course participants were expected to demonstrate depth of thought, make connections to other readings and assignments, and utilize critical analysis in their contributions. Their responses were expected to reflect real world experiences as much as possible, and be relevant to the topic and context of that session. Because of the relatively large number of course participants in the class, I divided them into two equally sized discussion groups of 15-16 people. The idea behind this was to make the discussions manageable and to give all course participants more opportunities to engage with the course materials. The groups were generated by Canvas, but course participants were allowed to change groups if they so desired. The discussion threads were also organized so that course participants watched a video introduction of the concepts for the week. This included PowerPoint presentations and videos chosen to address content in the discussion threads. For example, during the first week, course participants previewed the trailer for the movie Killing Us Softly (Kilbourne, 2001), a film that examines media through a gender lens by specifically examining how media impacts young girls.
During the second week, course participants completed two readings: Critical Media Literacy is not an Option (Kellner & Share, 2007) and Literacy for the 21st Century: The CML Media Lit Kit (Share, Jobs, Thoman, & Center for Media Literacy, 2010). The course participants watched Generation Like (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2014), which addresses the impact of an adolescents search for identity within an online environment. Week three focused
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on the documentary Merchants of Cool: A Report on the Creators and Marketers of Popular Culture for Teenagers (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2001). I gave participants guiding questions and asked them to think about how they might address their students after showing them this film and how they could rephrase the questions I gave them in order to suit different age groups.
I required the course participants to submit a summary of their discussion points and a self-reflection describing the value of their participation based on the assignments prompts. The goal of this summary was for the course participants to reflect on and evaluate their engagement with the topic and how they accomplished engaging with both the topic and their peers in a productive dialogue. In order to earn full points, course participants were required to read through their postings and summarize their participation in terms of the contribution guidelines provided below. Self-assessments asked the course participants to consider both the quantity and quality of their contributions. Keeping the rubric, their reflections, and their actual participation in the course discussions in mind, I ultimately assigned points according to the self-assessment assignment. I used their input as a guide but did not give course participants full points if they gave themselves a good evaluation but did not actually participate, or if their participation was inadequate. Course participants viewed media artifacts and evaluated them in terms of the Five Key Questions of Media Literacy (See Table 5).
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Table 5
Five Key Questions of Media Literacy (Center for Media Literacy, 2016)
Key Question
Core Concept Key Word
Guiding Questions:
Who created this All messages are Authorship What kind of text is it? message? constructed. What are the various elements
that make up the whole? How similar or different is it to others of the same genre? Which technologies are used in its creation?
What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.
Format What do you notice... (about the way the message is constructed)? Colors? Shapes? Size? Sounds? Words? Silence? Props, Sets, Clothing? Movement? Composition? Lighting? Where is the camera? What are people doing? Are there any symbols? Visual metaphors? What is the emotional appeal?
How might dif- Different people Audience
ferent people un- experience
derstand the same media
this message dif- message different-ferently from me? ly.
Have you ever experienced anything like this in your life? How close is this portrayal to your experience? What did you learn from this media text? What did you learn from other peoples responses? From their experience of life? How many other interpretations could there be? How could we hear about them? Are other viewpoints just as valid as mine?
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Table 5, Continued
Five Key Questions of Media Literacy (Center for Media Literacy, 2016)
What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
come to mind as you watch/read/listen? What ideas or values are being sold to us in this message? What political ideas are communicated in the message?
Media have em- Content bedded values and points of view.
What kinds of behav-iors/consequences are depicted? What type of person is the read-er/watcher/listener invited to identify with? What questions
Why is this mes- Most media message being sent? sages are organized to gain profit and/or power.
Intent Who is in control of the creation and transmission of this message? Why are they sending it? How do you know? Who are they sending it to? How do you know? What is being sold in this message? What is being told? Who profits from this message? Who pays for it? Who is served by or benefits from the message to the public? Private interests? Individual institutions?
The media deconstruction exercises were presented in the form of a quiz but were graded in terms of how well the student applied what they had learned to deconstruct each of the media messages. In the second week, I opened a Gallery Space where I asked course participants to post an interesting critical media literacy or maker space artifact. These items were open to reflection and discussion and were meant to reveal their personal experiences with media and mak-
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er spaces to their classmates. For example, they could post an interesting video clip, advertisement, article, project, program, or curriculum. Course participants were asked to create a project that they could use in their own individual educational context and to record a presentation for the class describing their project. It could be a resource for learning in an area of their choice (e.g., school, work, or informal; topic of their choice; developmental level of their choice) that would have possible applications in their present or planned work setting. For this assignment, a scoring guide using the Media Literacy in Action Project Rubric was provided and presentations were submitted to a peer review process.
When I first proposed this study, I had intended for the course to be a full-semester, hybrid coursemeaning a 16-week semester during which I would meet with the course participants in an online forum for half of the time and the other half of the time the meetings would be in person and on campus. My original syllabus submission to the School of Education Curriculum Review Committee proposed a course solely focused on the topic of critical media literacy. The committee responded with a request to resubmit my syllabus to include the topic of maker spaces and to restructure it as an eight-week, summer semester, entirely online, course with the title Media Literacy and Maker Culture. I was to keep in mind that I would mainly be teaching graduate course participants enrolled in the master of library science program and those that were taking the course as part of the teacher librarian certificate. I embraced the opportunity and quickly restructured the course to include both critical media literacy and maker spaces. I had just spent a year working in a middle school library where we had built a maker space program so I was already excited about the idea and had firsthand knowledge that I could offer to the course participants. The concepts of critical media literacy include the idea of both consuming and creating media, so to me, the two ideas fit together nicely because a person that is media lit-
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erate is both a critical creator and consumer and can use the Five Key Questions of Media Literacy (Table 4) to both consume and create media in a mindful way (Share, Thoman, & Jolls, 2010). The problem was that I had to do all of that in eight weeks without overwhelming the course participants with information, while giving them practical and applicable skills to bring back to their classrooms. I structured the course so that the first four weeks would focus on introducing the concept of critical media literacy and media deconstruction and the second half of the semester would focus on introducing them to the philosophy behind maker spaces and the basics of how to build one in a classroom or library.
It quickly became apparent that there was a disconnect between what the course participants expected to learn (based on the course description) and what the course intended to cover. The course participants were generally expecting to learn how to use technology rather than critique media. I did not expect everyone to understand the term critical media literacy as I was using it, but I decided to review the registration page for the course and it was at that point that I discovered that the course description that I had submitted to the curriculum review committee was not the same description viewed by the course participants when they registered. There was a significant difference between the intended description and what the course participants in the course received or viewed. The course description, available in the course catalog, did not describe critical media literacy as a critique of the media, but rather described how to use technology in the classroom. I began to wonder if the divergence would have an impact on who would sign up for the course and what they would expect to learn. I thought that perhaps people would sign up for the course because they thought it was going to address maker spaces. I could not be certain that the course participants would have signed up for this course if it had been marketed
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as critical media literacy. Nonetheless, because it is (and was) a required course for many of the course participants, it probably did not matter in the end.
I knew that we would be discussing controversial topics, like race and gender, that are often uncomfortable for course participants. Therefore, I knew that I would have to somehow quickly develop a sense of trust and try to build relationships with the course participants so that we could dialogue in meaningful ways. I also knew that doing this in an online environment, under such time constraints, would be a challenge. Consequently, I was excited, but I was also nervous because I had never taught an entirely online course completely on my own. However, I had been a teaching assistant for a few courses and was familiar with online courses as I was recently a student myself. I was similarly nervous about the idea of teaching a group of people that I regarded as my peers. I worried that I would not be viewed as credible or that the course would not feel useful to them. I worried that the content could not be delivered effectively in such a short semester and in an online environment in which we could not dialogue and communicate face-to-face.
I tried to troubleshoot ways to reduce my anxieties by paring down the course content and researching strategies to make online courses feel intimate, immediate, and real to the course participants. I wanted to prevent course participants from doing the least amount of work necessary, because this was something that I was guilty of myself in my experiences taking online courses. To achieve this, I decided that I would not require a specific number of posts each week. At the same time, I provided a specific rubric of what I considered good participation to be in our course and left it up to the course participants to figure out what that meant for them. For example, I provided guidelines that made it clear that they were expected to stay on topic and avoid
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posting irrelevant links, comments, thoughts, or pictures just to satisfy a requirement. I thought I made it clear that they were expected to add something valuable to our discussions.
At this point, I will take the opportunity to remind the reader that the goal of this research was to capture the subtle nuances of the participants experiences in the course in an effort to better understand if participants perceived their participation in the course as changing their perspectives about media, and if their experiences indicated the development of critical media literacy. Upon completion of the data analysis, it was clear that three assignments provided the best insight into the perceived growth in depth of thought and the development of critical media literacy skills, and they will be the focus of the portraits that follow. These included the video introduction assignment, the weekly questions discussed in the threaded discussions, and the five media deconstruction exercises.
The four portraits that follow are intended to provide the reader with an aesthetically complete interpretation of four course participants through providing a narrative development that carefully attends to the context, voices, relationships, and themes that emerged throughout the analysis. Each portrait is an interpretation and an artistic representation (Lawrence-Lightfoot, 1997). Careful attention was paid to the contextual significance of individual human experience, the participants and the researchers voices, all relationships within the environment, and to maintaining an iterative stance that eagerly seeks to reveal preconceived notions. The portraits are drawn from the study participants narratives as they were revealed in their introductory videos, threaded discussions, final projects and exit interviews. The intention was to paint a complete, coherent, and aesthetically whole portrait of each participant and their experience.
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Portrait III: Sarah
At the beginning of the course, I noted in my observations that Sarah seemed eager, organized, and on the ball. She was the first student to contact me about the course to address enrollment issues and to let me know that she would be traveling for a week during the semester without access to the internet. Throughout the semester, our relationship continued to be positive and she always made sure that she was doing the right thing at the right time in a way that made her stand out to me from among her peers.
I learned from Sarahs introductory video that she grew up in a small town in the Midwest and attended a large state university where she earned her bachelors degree in music therapy. Sarah mentioned that she liked the educational setting so much that she decided to pursue her masters degree in early childhood special education at another large state university. After Sarah earned her masters degree, she taught for a few years before moving west. Sarah now lives in the local metro area and has been teaching preschool for three years for a large school district. Sarah shared that she was the daughter of a school librarian and a teacher. The course marked her first step towards earning her School Library Endorsement. She expressed that she was looking forward to getting back into graduate school and beginning the school library program. This was her first online course experience. In our interaction, I got the sense that Sarah had a strong connection to her teacher community and was active in organizations that she described as influential in her larger community.
Sarahs introductory video indicated her excitement to learn how to be savvy with media. Her video stood out to me because while other participants described an expectation to learn more about how to use technology in their classrooms, Sarahs expectation was that we would instead investigate our relationships with media. In her video, she stated:
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Social media is everywhere.. .everything just seems to be right at our fingertips so I think being smart about what we are consuming is a good skill to have and I would like to be able to pass that along to the students I work with... Media literacy is being able to take in those messages or information with a type of filter that allows one to recognize what is objective, factual, relative, or real, and decide how media messages will influence him or her.
Sarahs narratives consistently expressed the importance of being mindful media consumers and creators of media, reiterating the definition of critical media literacy that I used throughout the course (Hobbs, 2013). Her conception of critical media literacy addressed the use of a critical thinking lens and it acknowledged that media is influential. Although Sarah was not specific about how the media influences people, I was intrigued that her definitions were focused on the idea that critical media literacy is needed to provide objectivity a filter that can be used to determine what is objective, factual, relative, or real as she stated. Sarahs narrative also implied that she believes that a moment exists when a person decides whether or not they will be influenced by the media. This revealed to me an underlying assumption of an objective reality and the belief that there is an ultimate truth that exists, but is skewed by media. Admittedly, Sarahs positivist definition surprised me and challenged me to consider that an irreconcilable disconnect may exist between a positivist stance and grasping the emancipatory potential of critical media literacy. Sarahs notion of using critical media literacy to uncover the truth was problematic in that it revealed that her interpretation did not value context or seem to consider the potential of there being more than one interpretation of the truth.
The media deconstruction assignment was given the very first week of the course. Course participants watched a video clip of a ToysRUs advertisement (Appendix B) and analyzed it through a critical media literacy lens using the Five Key Concepts of Media Literacy (See Table 3). In this ad, kids are loaded onto a school bus labeled Meet the Trees Foundation. The guide,
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under the guise of being Ranger Brad, announces Today were taking some kids on the best field trip they could wish for. He then shows them some pictures of leaves, as the camera pans around the bus showing bored, tired, and yawning kids. He then reveals that they are not going on a natural science field trip at all, but to... ToysRUs. Kids run from the bus into the store and play with whatever they want.
I chose this commercial because it would give course participants a simple media message to deconstruct for their first assignment. The themes we addressed in the first part of the course were obviously laid out and I tried to create an easy access point to the five concepts of critical media literacy (authorship, format, audience, content, intent). When I first saw this advertisement, I was disgusted by the blatant stereotyping of children of color as coming from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and the implication that they needed to be rescued from their sad lives by a white male. The vignettes this advertisement creates are disconcerting. The only white person featured in the advertisement is Ranger Brad. There appear to be a few white children on the bus but the advertisement focuses only the reactions of the children who are not white. The green bus, along with Ranger Brads government-inspired uniform, create an image that resembles a scene outside of a correctional facility. There was a strangely obvious and tragic metaphor for the institutionalization of education and every frame of this ad is laden with negative stereotypes. I thought this advertisement would facilitate a straightforward discussion for the class to talk about typically uncomfortable topics, like race and gender stereotyping, because the examples were so blatant that they could not be overlooked. However, I was proven wrong.
The first question of the assignment addressed the concept of authorship and probed the viewer to try to identify the corporations behind the advertisements. In Sarahs case, her response
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to this first media deconstruction assignment revealed a base level, acritical connection to the questions. When asked who created the ToysRUs advertisement, Sarahs answer was short, vague and simple: The advertisers at ToysRUs created this message. Her answer did not engage with the advertisement from a critical stance or demonstrate any awareness of a connection to the social constructs related to advertising. In comparison, the sole course participant who successfully demonstrated critical level thinking with regards to this question answered that advertisements are constructed by advertising teams targeting children and parents, and interrogated the ToysRUs corporation, the executives themselves, and its sponsors.
The majority of my feedback to Sarah and to the rest of the course participants on this assignment focused on responses to the third and fourth key questions. The goal of the third and fourth questions is to inspire consideration of the notion that people can interpret the same media message differently. This also offered the potential to challenge Sarahs seemingly positivist assumptions expressed earlier. Sarah stated that Children may interpret this advertisement as play vs. learning is better and that .. .parents may receive the message that in order to make my child happy, he/she needs lots of toys. Sarah explained that as an educator I am receiving the message that education is not fun. To the question of what lifestyles, values, and points of view were represented in or omitted from the message, Sarah wrote that she thought the advertisement represented the values, lifestyles, and points of view of families and children of lower socioeconomic status... because not everyone can afford a lifestyle at home that allows for lots of nice new toys. She stated that she thought that the parents point of view was omitted from this message to appeal more to kids because they are happiest without structure and adult supervision and with their toys to keep them occupied.
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Although Sarahs answers revealed slightly varying perspectives (educators, children, families, parents, children of lower socio-economic status), they comfortably align with and reflect her life experience as a preschool teacher. Her responses provide an example of an acritical stance that avoids critique, and provides only surface level answers that fail to connect with the critical thinking and critical media literacy concepts that underpin the questions. Focusing on how children, parents, and teachers would interpret the advertisement reveals that Sarah is either critiquing the advertisement through a lens of white privilege that is oblivious to the presence of racial difference, or she is simply avoiding having to experience the discomfort of discussing, or having to justify, conflicting interpretations related to racial stereotyping.
In my feedback, I encouraged Sarah to think more deeply about the impact of media messages on the development of a childs identity and to consider what the message was inferring about the children in the bus in order to draw connections to the population being represented. Along with conveying the obvious message that playing is better than learning, or that kids dislike adult supervision, I asked her to consider how the advertisement was sending strong messages about the children being depicted. Among these, the strongest message was that the children represented are easily duped, and if it were not for the benevolence of ToysRUs, they would not have access to either toys or a happy childhood. I asked Sarah to consider whether a child would likely see themselves in the ToysRUs advertisement, or if they would see a stereotype meant to reflect their life experience. I asked Sarah to consider the impact of seeing that in not just one advertisement, but in an entire lifetimes worth of advertisements repeating the same types of messages and depicting the same stereotypical portrayals of race and class.
A few weeks into the course, the course participants watched the trailers to two films and responded to questions in the threaded discussion in response to two video taken clips from the
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films. The first was a short excerpt from the film Killing Us Softly (2010) by Jeanne Kilbourne
that specifically addresses the treatment of women and young girls in media messages. Kilbourne
convincingly explains how a consequence of the consistent, omnipresent positioning of women
in the media as props and objects to be consumed or used directly relates to the perpetuation of
aggression towards women in society and the aggression of women towards themselves in the
form of eating disorders and perfectionism (Appendix B). Sarah explained that
... This reminded me of a short segment that I recently watched on the Daily Show...
John jokes about welcoming Bruce Jenner to womanhood and as such she will be treated accordingly by the media... I think this happens with a lot of women who are in the spotlight and attempt to go beyond feminine expectations. The opposite is also true for men who show themselves as less than masculine.
In this adaptive response, Sarah demonstrates an awareness of an inequity in media portrayals of women but does not connect this equity to real-life consequences. In the threaded discussion, I asked Sarah if she could identify a real-life consequence of the mistreatment of women in the media messages. This question seemed to help her shift to apre-critical connection between the wage gap between men and women and the media. However, her insight stops short of connecting how women in the media are portrayed with their job opportunities and their perceptions of their own potential:
There are a number of jobs in society where there are significantly more women or men in that field, and I believe that is because of societal views of men or women working in those positions. For example, the majority of preschool, kindergarten and early elementary teachers are women. Is this because it is not considered masculine for men to be nurturers of young children? I personally disagree, but it is still a reality.
I commented in my notes that Sarah can see the problem but rationalizes it as being outside of
her control, which is yet another example of an adaptive stage of sociopolitical development.
This demonstrates that Sarah is aware that a problem exists in the inequity of the portrayal of
men and women in the media but has an underlying unwillingness or inability to move forward
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towards considering how to solve the problem or even admit that the problem needs solving.
This is also evidence that Sarahs degree of sociopolitical control, or her belief that her actions can lead to change, remained unchanged throughout the semester.
Sarahs reaction and response after viewing the documentary Merchants of Cool: A Report on the Creators and Marketers of Popular Culture for Teenagers (Frontline, 2001) signaled a regression in her sociopolitical awareness. The film, although dated, provides excellent examples of the lengths that companies will go to target the teen market. Although the strategies have changed in the time since that the film was made, it reveals the powerful symbiotic relationship between the media and teens in their search for identity and uncovers tactics, techniques, and cultural ramifications of predatory teen marketing by interviewing marketers, media executives and cultural media critics. I expected the participants to have the same reaction that I had when I first watched this filmwhich was outrage and disgust. I remember that I walked out of the classroom because I was so overwhelmed by some of the images. When I read the responses to this film, I was struck by their ambivalence and I was concerned that they did not understand the connection between how marketing techniques literally shape culture and the behaviors and actions of young people.
Sarah stated in the threaded discussion that exploitation was the last thing that came to mind during the film explaining that at least in the 1990s the cool hunters had to seek out actual people, get their permission to receive their feedback, and in some instances, those people would receive something in return for their time and responses. I dont blame the mooks and midriffs or the media solely for the actions of individuals, but it does make me wonder to what extent the media is responsible for perpetuating rape culture? This response was uncritical and connected with the concepts of critical media literacy at a very surface level. The exploita-
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tion that the film addresses is focused on the cultural level ramifications of the accepted marketing techniques used to interrogate adolescents, drill down to their insecurities and then use these findings to mass market identity. Sarahs response was shocking to me because she was defending the advertisers tactics as acceptable because the teenagers were seemingly aware of what they were taking part in and receiving compensation for it. In terms of sociopolitical development, Sarahs statement led me to believe that she failed to grasp the concept of cognitive empowerment as she was not able to see how the relationship between the teens and the marketing investigators was exploitative and how their ideology was manipulated for profit (Speer & Peterson, 2000).
Sarahs sociopolitical development had shifted very slightly by the last weeks of the course to reach the adaptive stage, as evident in her deconstruction of a Dodge commercial for the 2010 Super Bowl, titled Mans Last Stand. This commercial consists of a series of close-up images of lifeless and bored looking middle-aged men as a monotone male voice-over describes what men must endure as a result of the women in their lives. The advertisement makes the argument that, in exchange for all that they put up with from women, men are entitled to the thrill of owning a Dodge Charger. The overtly sexist message, that women emasculate men by nagging and rendering them powerless in all areas of their lives, is delivered in a condescendingly light-hearted tone. The narrator sarcastically describes the range of tasks that men endure:
I will get up and walk the dog at six-thirty in the morning... I will say yes when you want me to say yes and be quiet when you dont want to hear me say no... I will shave... I will clean the sink after I shave... I will put my underwear in the laundry hamper. .. I will sit through two-hour meetings... I will carry your Chapstick.... I will talk to your mother... And because I do this, I will drive the car I want to drive.
The last shot is of the Dodge Charger revving its engine as it speeds away and the text Mans
Last Stand appears on the screen.
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Sarahs response to this media deconstruction demonstrates increased awareness, or willingness to acknowledge, asymmetry and inequality by identifying the creators of the message as the advertisers at the Dodge car company, who she assumes are straight men. Sarah makes an indirect accusation that the message being sent is sexist by assuming that the authors are straight men, but does not go further than merely suggesting that fact. Here, Sarah shows a shift in critical thinking from an acritical stage of sociopolitical development to an adaptive stage by acknowledging the corporate hierarchy that impacts the construction of a message and that gender also plays a role in how messages are created. My feedback asked Sarah to reconsider her assumption that the Dodge advertisement was created by straight men, but rather that it was created for straight men by a strategic marketing team with the expertise to reach their target audience.
Although deconstructing the Dodge advertisement showed that Sarahs lens of diversity had expanded, her analysis also revealed her underlying assumptions and stereotypes about men, women, men of color, and the gay community. Again, in her adaptive response, Sarah shows evidence of being self-critical and attempts to acknowledge multiple views, but her underlying assumptions and stereotypes about groups remain evident. When asked how different people might interpret the message differently from her, Sarah answered that the men in the advertisement might think that the message being sent is that men should drive a loud muscle car, be responsible, have a wife, and do things to be responsible even though they dont want to. Sarah thought that men of color and boys receive the message that white men are the only true men. She thought that the gay community would feel completely discounted by the advertisement because it does not pertain to them, even if they do like muscle cars. Sarah thought the advertisement represented the values of heterosexual white men and their responsibilities to their de-
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manding wives and girlfriends. Sarah said that she found the phrase mans last stand especially
irritating because it suggested that masculinity was being diminished by women. Although she
may have found the advertisement irritating, Sarahs position on gender stereotypes that exist
in the media are expressed as something that is beyond her control. She states:
I dont necessarily believe that media is the root cause of gender stereotypes and discrepancies, but I do believe that a great deal of media perpetuates these stereotypes.
On the other hand, agreeing with many of you, media literacy is not only consuming media with a lens, but also creating it with consciousness of our message, I think that media gives us all an avenue to combat gender norms and stereotypes, and that is encouraging.
Sarahs analysis of the Dodge advertisement shows adaptive stage behaviors by acknowledging the system but describing it as immutable. This is further evidence that Sarah demonstrated a low level of sociopolitical control as she was not able to see any possible solution that was within her control. This is also evidence of low level social attribution as the problem rests on the shoulders of the viewers rather than on those of the media creators (Watts and Guessous, 2013). Watts explains that these accommodation strategies are employed to maintain a positive sense of self and to acquire social and material rewards. With her answer, Sarah acknowledges the problem of perpetuating stereotypes but chooses to assuage her own concern by offering up an encouraging antidote about media creation.
At the time of the course, Sarah had already earned a masters degree, so my expectations were admittedly higher for her than they were for some of the other course participants. This was based on my expectation that a graduate student would be more comfortable with the critical thinking process and the learning environment, more willing to challenge both themselves and others, and would enjoy being challenged by a graduate level course. However, her narratives revealed that although she was capable of thinking at a critical level, she did not engage with
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others or with the material at a level that indicated that she had shifted beyond a pseudo-critical level of sociopolitical development.
Online environments allow for a level of anonymity that can either make participants feel free to express themselves or can have the opposite effect and provide them with too much time to self-censor and second-guess their initial reactions. Our topics were also value laden, which added another level of complexity to honest dialogue. Race, gender, and cultural stereotypes were often being discussed in this course and navigating those conversations in any environment can be complicated and intimidating. In interacting with Sarah throughout the semester, I was not convinced that she could observe the scope and incredible power that the media has over ones sense of self. Sarah did not seem convinced that the media plays a powerful role in naming, categorizing, and scripting our lives or that stereotypes work because they represent something that we recognize as being true even if it is not, because they are prevalent in the narratives and messages that are presented to us in thousands of different ways through the media.
The second goal of this research was to understand whether participants perceived their participation in the course as changing their perspectives about media and, if so, in what ways. After the course had ended and grades were turned in, I reached out to the participants that had indicated at the beginning of the semester that they would like to be a part of the study and then arranged a time for a video call that was later transcribed. All participants were asked the questions below and engaged in a one-on-one discussion with me about their experiences in the class. Sarah and I were able to Skype three weeks after the course had ended. It was a semi-formal interview and I tried to keep the interview questions (Appendix A) as conversational as possible. I did not want her to feel like I was putting her on the spot or trying to test her knowledge. Our conversation was pleasant and I was relieved and happy to hear that she perceived her experience
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as transformational and rewarding. I was glad that her first graduate level course in our program was positive and that she felt like it was worth her time because the course was created to foster the development of critical media literacy skills and to cultivate perspective transformation.
I asked Sarah if she felt that she had experienced a change in her perspective on the concept of critical media literacy. She explained that although she had started the course with some knowledge of critical media literacy, the course did expand her understanding:
I think before the course I had some awareness that I needed to be skeptical of media, or recognized that media is portraying some sort of message, but I was not labeling it that way. I feel like I came to the class having an awareness of media as a message and not every message out there being factual... I think overall just getting a greater cognizance of critical media literacy and having a greater more defined definition of what it is.
She explained that the course specifically helped her to better understand the important role that
the media industry plays in the creation of media messages: The course definitely opened up my
eyes to the need to look at media consumption as carefully as media creation... and looking at
the media industry with a more critical lens. Sarah explained that she noticed that she found that
things that resonated or reflected her own values were easier for her to accept and, therefore be
less critical of than those that did not reflect her own values. I thought this was a point of
growth to recognize that presence of bias in her own value judgment.
She explained that she experienced a situation where she was driving with her family and
saw a billboard for a trucking company that featured a silhouette of a nude girl sitting sideways -
the kind of image that you might see on like trucker flaps with the caption I got detailed at so-
and-so auto center... She said she was grumbling about it to her sister and questioned her
feelings about the advertisement as she talked to her sister about it:
It was misogynistic in my opinion for the way this company was choosing to advertise. If I were someone else, how would I view that differently? I told my sister Im taking this class and its making me think about things in a different way.
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Sarahs self-examination and assessment of her own assumptions suggests a level of awareness and desire to engage in dialogue about a subject that she may not have been comfortable con5fronting before. Sarah described that she felt more comfortable talking to people about her new perspectives and that the course gave her options and a stronger foundation from which to start when describing a problem to someone else. In addition, Sarah said that she was looking forward to implementing what she had learned in her own classroom. She described how she planned to put what she had learned into action by hosting an open house for her preschool parents to teach them
a little bit more about what media literacy is and why its important for other research, but whats behind the movement and why its important and you know present to them heres something you can do to help make you more cognizant of what your preschooler is consuming and how you can be involved in that.
She explained that she intended to use the knowledge, skills, and resources that she had gained in class and felt confident enough to share them with her colleagues. She described the integration of her new perspective into her life by noticing that she is interacting with social media differently and being more conscientious of the things that I am posting or sharing on Facebook and just when I am out and about I think Im noticing things in a slightly different way or maybe a slightly more analytical way. However, Sarah did not demonstrate an increase in agency or a desire to participate in the community or political projects to further develop her individual sense of agency.
Although I do feel that Sarah viewed her experience in the course as rewarding and changing her perspectives about media, her growth in terms of critical media literacy development and her movement through Watts stages of sociopolitical development were minimal. Sarah demonstrated what I consider to be a pre-critical awareness of the social implications of me-
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dia messages, as the majority of her participation in the course failed to provide evidence that she was willing to move past a critique or acknowledgement of the existence of the problems to find a solution. Our interactions implied that she felt that media messaging is a problem that perpetuates negative stereotypes (to a degree), but I also felt that she believed that it is just something to accept and nothing of consequence needs to be done about it.
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Table 6
Sarah Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?
Source:
Participant Narrative:
SPD/ML Code & Observations:
Media Deconstruction #1 ToysRUs ad
Children may interpret this as play vs. learning is better as though those ideas are mutually exclusive. Parents may receive the message that in order to make my child happy, he/she needs lots of toys. As an educator, I am receiving the message that education is not fun.
Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real differences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience.
Media
Deconstruction #2 Dodge
Charger ad
Men: to be a man I must be a responsible individual, who has a wife/girlfriend. I must do things to be responsible even though I don't want to, and I must drive a loud muscle car. Men of color: white men are the only true men. Boys: white men are true men, and in order to grow up and be a man, I have to like girls, and feel irritated by them, and I have to like loud muscle cars. Women: I am annoying to my husband/boyfriend and not allowed to drive muscle cars. The Gay community, I am completely discounted in this advertisement and it pertains to me in no way... but what If I like muscle cars?
Acritical but leaning more Adaptive or Pseudo-critical:
Resource asymmetry is acknowledged as well as capabilities of group members. I see an expanded lens in trying to show multiple perspectives or address diversity in her analysis but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens is still poised inside of her own of experience and only superficially poised to understanding the gay community.
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Table 6, Continued
Sarah Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?
Source: Participant Narrative:
SPD/ML Code & Observations:
Media
Deconstruction
#3
Healthy Choice ad
This message seems to empower white young professionals and disempower middle aged adults or beyond particularly middle aged women clinging to their youth. There are no people of color in this commercial, no children, no one of a low socioeconomic status, and the couple in the commercial is straight. This serves the media makers interests because it serves the majority of Americans... young white straight people who don't cook, majority being the stereo-type of Americans, not necessarily the true majority values, youth, health, being independent of your parents, being hip are all values that are represented. Some subtext might be that honesty is awkward and therefore shouldn't be used so freely in regular conversations. Another subtext might be that only white or straight people eat healthy food.
Adaptive or Pseudo-critical: Resource asymmetry is acknowledged as well as capabilities of group members. Lens shows more perspectives and attempts to address diversity in her analysis in regards to race and gender but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens still feels superficially poised.
Media
Deconstruction
#4
Dove Real Women ad
Some people may initially see the women and have an initial reaction of wondering why their pictures are being highlighted, as they do not have the appearance of a more traditional fashion model, but upon further investigation they may agree or disagree with the idea that women are beautiful not matter their age or size. Both of these women appear white, so it does leave one to wonder if women of color are also beautiful at any size or age. Though I have seen other dove advertisements from this campaign that do feature women of color.
Dove is not for men is another way that this could be interpreted.
Adaptive or Pseudo-critical. I see an expanded lens in trying to show multiple perspectives or address diversity in her analysis but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens is superficially poised as outside of experience.
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Table 6, Continued
Sarah Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?
Media
Deconstruction
#5
Scene from Disneys Austin & Allie sitcom
There seems to be a lot of white kids being featured in the clip and the students of color are mostly in the background. The skinny white girls are all playing somewhat stereotypical roles such as stuck up, and cheerleader... The biggest values that seem to come across to me, are earning your roles vs. deserving or being entitled tho them, and being a good sport when things don't go your way. I think they are also attempting to devalue being pretty even though the lead is a beautiful girl, she isn't beautiful in the traditional sense... skinny, blonde, etc.
Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real differences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience.
Sarah appeared to be playing it safe throughout the semester by demonstrating her awareness of inequity but choosing not to engage with that concept or attempt to change it. For example, Sarah did not avoid self-critique and she often acknowledged a personal bias towards her media choices. Moreover, she attempted to demonstrate multiple perspectives and to address dimensions of diversity in her analysis of the media. However, she also demonstrated consistent evidence of having underlying assumptions and perpetuating stereotypes about groups throughout her narratives. Therefore, Sarahs lens of perspective was often self-centered and perhaps superficially poised to convince her readers that she was not complacent when it came to the asymmetry and inequality that the media perpetuates. Table 6 provides a brief summary of Sarahs responses and subsequent change in perspective and shifts in sociopolitical development as they relate to the media deconstruction assignments questions How might people different from me interpret this message.
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Portrait IV: Carolyn
From Carolyns introductory video, I learned that this course was the fifth that she had taken in her graduate program. She was, at the time, approximately halfway through her program. At the beginning of the semester, Carolyns engagement with the course material and her responses to the media deconstructions were very similar to Sarahs. However, I found that Carolyn responded positively to feedback and seemed to quickly become more comfortable expressing herself in the course. I thought that this might have been because she was more comfortable in an online environment or participating in a graduate level course. The responses she gave at the beginning of the semester were not immediately critical, but she reached that level of thinking much faster than the other course participants.
At the beginning of the semester, she described critical media literacy as being able to look at different types of media and decode what is actually being said... to be able to look at something from several angles and think about what it actually is... be able to view it [media] from different viewpoints and then decide on what it is that you are actually seeing, or reading. She described herself as media literate and believed that the media influenced her own thoughts, ideas, behaviors, values, and beliefs.
Carolyns deconstruction of the ToysRUs advertisement during the first week of the course reveals responses that were similar to Sarahs (See Table 1). Carolyns answers made a base level and acritical connection to the questions. When asked who created the ToysRUs advertisement, Carolyns answer was even more perfunctory than Sarahs, as she simply stated: ToysRUs. Like Sarahs response, simply identifying the company fails to demonstrate any awareness of a connection to the social constructs that are inherent in advertising. When considering the notion that people can interpret the same media message differently,
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Carolyn stated that all ages could understand the message that ToysRUs is a great toy store and that parents would receive the message that toys will help kids be happy and the general population would get the message that it is fun to dream and imagine. In response to the question regarding what lifestyles, values, and points of view were represented in, or omitted from, the message, Carolyn wrote that she thought the advertisement represented the perspective that new toys that lead to happiness and dreams coming true and that ToysRUs will make your kids happy and inspired. Similar to Sarahs, Carolyns answers were safe or predictable and reflected her own life experience. Carolyn avoided critique and gave only superficial answers that failed to critically engage or connect to critical media literacy concepts. It was hard to determine if this response was tempered by the effects of white privilege that caused Carolyn to be oblivious to the presence of racial difference, or indicative of an avoidance tactic to reduce her discomfort with discussing racial stereotyping.
In her response to Kilbournes gender investigation, Killing Us Softly (2010), Carolyn reflected upon her own childhood and on how commercials for Easy-Bake Ovens, My Little Pony, and Barbie dolls were gender biased. Carolyn commented that the media continues to perpetuate traditional masculine and feminine roles today. For example, Carolyn described how when she watched the Super Bowl this year, one car commercial stood out to her because of its atypical portrayal of a single dad going through the trials and tribulations of having a daughter and then seeing her off to join the Army. She also thought the Caitlyn Jenner story that had hit the headlines at the time was interesting in that many shows have started dissecting her looks and her body. Her answers move beyond uncritical to become adaptive because she is thinking about what the message is implying about acceptable masculine and feminine roles. Although these responses acknowledge and demonstrate an awareness of a problem, Carolyns analysis
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does not progress to investigate or question what impact gender biased messages have on society.
In the middle of the semester, I began to notice that Carolyns analysis had become more socially focused and less self-centered. Her responses to Merchants of Cool: A Report on the Creators and Marketers of Popular Culture for Teenagers (Frontline, 2001) focused on the social implications of targeted teen marketing practices. It was interesting to see her analysis throughout this particular threaded discussion. At the beginning of the discussion, she posted about the importance of educating course participants on the tricks and gimmicks used by companies to show her students how teenagers are exploited. As the conversation in the threaded discussion progressed, Carolyn questioned her classmates stances on the exploitation of teens, stating I am going to play Devils advocate here; yes, teens are being exploited, but do these companies and trends give them a place where they feel connected to other people... a place where they feel like they can belong? Similar to Sarah, Carolyns analysis is fairly uncritical and only superficially connects with the concepts of critical media literacy; however, she had become more focused on the ramifications of the marketing techniques on a cultural level.
Throughout the semester, Carolyn consistently steered clear of addressing the role that race plays in the advertisements, despite my efforts to encourage everyone in the class to look more closely at the subtle and not-so-subtle racial stereotyping prevalent in all of the advertisements, even the ads that appear to only address gender (like the Dodge ad). Carolyn was comfortable talking about gender stereotypes, stating that the Dodge advertisement was most likely created by a man and that the message mans last stand is a masculine phrase used to describe war. This implies that marriage is a battle over masculinity as represented in the battle over which car to drive. Carolyn thought the advertising campaign was directed at a pretty spe-
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cific demographic of middle-class, employed, young, and married (or seriously committed) men. She thought that the main message was that men deserve their reward because of all that they have to put up with. These adaptive level responses are evidence of a personally focused lensher responses clearly represent the perspective of a white female who is not considering how people different from herself might interpret the advertisement.
Another media deconstruction provided an opportunity to analyze a television show produced by the Disney Corporation, Austin and Ally, that is targeted specifically at pre-teens. I chose this advertisement for this assignment because Disneys role in our media landscape is incredibly powerful. The clip shows mostly young, white teenagers (even though the setting is in Miami Beach, where there is a large Latina/o community). The two main white characters do not get the roles that they wanted in a play but are still the center of attention. The actor who does get the main role in the play is a robust, presumably Latina, girl who does not retain the focus of the clip even though she has won the lead and is applauded for her believable portrayal of being asleep. There is also an Asian male character that is stereotypically portraying a soft-spoken nerd. This clip is interesting because Disney is being hypocritical by using typecasting in an episode that focuses on stereotyping.
Carolyn brought up stereotypes, but seemed unable to reach a level of understanding that
connected the repercussions of positive and negative racial stereotyping to the limiting of our
perceptions of people different from ourselves. In Carolyns analysis of the Disney television
show, she focused on the role of stereotypes:
One thing that really stood out to me is the use of all the traditional stereotypes that you see in this clip... several different types of people are shown, but they are all very stereotypical and cliche... the extravert pretty popular girl... the overweight, kind friend ... the Asian nerd, complete with plaid vest and bow tie... the ditzy blonde who is excited to be a tree.
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On one level, she was able to see a connection between how ones life experience would affect the interpretation of a message, stating I think your age and demographic would really influence how you see [understand] this video. However, she seemed to interpret this as only positive, stating that she views the wide range of characters in the show as a helpful way to connect with a variety of viewers and help lots of kids relate to the show. She thought that the message was being sent in order to help show their audience that even though stereotypes exist and can be funny, they can also be broken. I was excited to see that she was moving towards a pre-critical level of sociopolitical development, but I was also aware that I needed to find a way to help her understand that stereotypes, even those that appear benign, are sometimes so familiar and subtle that we overlook how they place limits on the young minds that see themselves as typecast in the characters, story-lines, and situations depicted for their entire lives.
Although both Carolyns and Sarahs responses to the media deconstructions were similar in their acritical and adaptive tendencies, I believe that Carolyns overall transformation and degree of sociopolitical development was greater than Sarahs. Carolyns final project and interview revealed a strong desire to incorporate what she had learned from the course into her daily life in ways that would inspire change in her students and in others. Although Sarah saw the course as changed her perspectives about media on a personal level, by the time of the final project and in the interview, it was clear that Carolyn was taking steps to bring critical media literacy to her schools administration and her fellow teachers in ways that moved beyond her own personal experience.
Course participants were given the assignment of creating a project that they could use in their educational context and asked to record a presentation to the class describing their project.
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For example, it could have been a learning resource in an area of their choosing with a potential application in their current or anticipated work setting. Carolyn created a twelve-unit lesson plan for seventh- and eighth-graders that tackled social media and internet safety. She connected her curriculum to national standards and included learning objectives, a list of materials steps for execution, and an innovative exit ticket concept to ensure student understanding. I was impressed with her projects thoroughness and our conversations led me to believe that she was excited about implementing this curriculum in her school. Her project showed me that she had grown and reached a new level of understanding about critical media literacy since the commencement of the course. The project seemed to draw everything together for her into a cohesive plan that made the project goals clearer for her.
In our final interview, I asked Carolyn if she had experienced a change in her perspective on media and her teaching as it relates to critical media literacy. She replied by stating: Ive really taken a hold of it. I love it. I believe that there has been a major shift in my perspectives about media and my teaching since taking the course. I asked her to clarify what she believed had changed in her understanding of media and critical media literacy. She spoke directly to her lens becoming less self-focused: I think I had a very limited view at the beginning that just centered around me and what I put out as opposed to how I read things and how I interpret things and how others are interpreting things and how that can be differentIn describing that change, she spoke about being able to look at different messages that are all around us in a little bit different light... I didnt know how much kids lives are affected by media and how much time they were putting into it. In her interview, Carolyn focused heavily on how she was applying her new mindset to the things she reads and hears and applying it into her teaching by recognizing that everything the kids read is all created by someone and theres always going to be a
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message behind it. She explained that at the beginning of the course, she thought critical media literacy was going to be more about creating media as opposed to critiquing our own experiences
with media and what we need to be thinking about as we see it.
Carolyn explained that one of the things she valued most about the course was how it applied to her teaching in ways that other courses had not.
Ive really enjoyed this class... because I was also able to create something and use it right away from week one in the school. Which is so valuable... because of the way you structured it, Im going to be using it. I used it last week with the teachers and Im going to be using it next week with the kids. It made me look really good to my new principal to see me doing this kind of work with the students and the teachers.
She explained that she had just met with the principal at her school and showed her the critical media literacy unit that she would be teaching to the eighth-grade students. Carolyn had also presented a critical media literacy unit to school staff in a teacher professional development session and was scheduled to deliver more once a month so that she could get some of those resources in the hands of the different age levels and different things that they [teachers] could do in their class with the different ages on how to bring those perceptions to their students... all the way down to kindergarten. Carolyn talked about how the professional development session went really well because the teachers got to pick which professional development topic they wanted to hear and half of the staff showed up for my presentation... So far, I have collaborative lessons planned with four teachers.
I learned from Carolyns interview that the online environment impacted how she interacted in the course and placed limits on which topics she was comfortable bringing up in the threaded discussions. She explained:
I remember at the beginning of the semester, there was a lot of push back and people not wanting to bring up things like race or conversations like that because its hard. I think because when youre face-to-face its a lot easier to bring up the more difficult subjects
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like race or gender equality or all the different hot button topics because youre able to see the person and kind of see if theyre understanding where youre coming from.
She further described her experience in retrospect:
Looking back I realize that I was not comfortable writing things in the way that I was hearing it in my head... especially with the toy store ad, when looking at the race and the genders of the kids, I immediately thought this is an inner-city school that never gets to go outside, and here these kids are going back into a toy store. I recognized that the only reason I thought that was because they were of different ethnicities but I was afraid to post that. Especially with some of the women ads too, because I didnt know how people were going to take it. You cant actually see them to tell if theyre going to be offended with what youre saying, whether or not thats how you meant it. I dont know if that came out right. It is a lot easier face-to-face.
Our course met weekly online in a chat room and Carolyn explained that these weekly meetings made those difficult topics easier to address because they happened synchronously. Some of the threaded discussions and conversations took place asynchronously and some lasted well over a week, so if somebody did not understand what someone else meant or needed clarification, there was time to think and stew about it and wonder if thats what they really meant.
In creating Carolyns portrait, I began to understand more clearly that although a course participant may show acritical and adaptive behaviors during their learning experience, they can demonstrate critical and liberatory level consciousness in the actions they take to improve what they see as the problem, and this may not always be apparent during the course itself. I also learned that the online environment clearly impacted how she interacted in the course and limited the topics that she was comfortable addressing in the threaded discussions.
Carolyns portrait was interesting to create in comparison to the analysis of Sarahs experience. Although both Carolyns and Sarahs responses to the media deconstructions were similar in their acritical and adaptive tendencies, I believe that Carolyns overall transformation and the extent of her sociopolitical development was far greater. Carolyns sociopolitical development
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was not always apparent in her in-class interactions, but her actions and enthusiasm about critical media literacy were revealed in her final interview when she showed a strong desire to incorporate what she had learned from the course into her daily life in order to inspire change in her students and in others. Although Sarah saw the course as changing her perspectives about media on a personal level, by the final interview, Carolyn was taking steps to bring critical media literacy to her schools administration and her fellow teachers in ways that extended beyond her own experience. Carolyn is in an excellent position to be able to incorporate critical media literacy into her curriculum as a digital teacher librarian in a school that goes from kindergarten through to the eighth grade. This portrait reveals that although a course participant may show acritical and adaptive behaviors during their learning experience, they can demonstrate critical and liberatory level consciousness in the actions that they take after the course has finished. Table 7 provides a brief summary of Carolyns responses and subsequent change in perspective and shifts in sociopolitical development as they relate to the media deconstruction assignments questions How might people different from me interpret this message.
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Table 7
Carolyn Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?
Source: Participant Narrative:
SPD/ML Code & Observations:
Media De-construction #1
ToysRUs ad
All ages would understand this message: kids Toys R Us is a great toy store, parents toys will help kids be happy, general population it is fun to dream and imagine.
Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real differences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience.
Media Deconstruction #2 Dodge Charger ad
I could see a female finding this commercial to be very trite. Either because she doesn't think it's funny to portray the compromise or joint duty that is marriage as a negative thing. The final message of the commercial is man's last stand, usually a phrase that's reserved for a battle or war. It seems to be implying that being married is a constant fight with his masculinity and this is the one, and only reward that he gets. I could also see this from the side of a woman who wants to drive a fast no powerful car. This message is full of stereotypes.
Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real differences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience.
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Table 7, continued
Carolyn Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?
Media
Deconstruc-
tion
#3
Healthy Choice ad
This message empowers the younger generation, but takes power away from the older generation. It suggests that you have to dress and act younger than you are, and that your children will be embarrassed by you. This ad is geared to the age group and demographic that comes to the table with the most money to spend, young middle class white people.
Adaptive or Pseudo-critical: Resource asymmetry is acknowledged as well as capabilities of group members. Lens shows more perspectives and attempts to address diversity in her analysis in regards to race and gender but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens still feels superficially poised.
Media
Deconstruc-
tion
#4
Dove Real Women ad
This ad is aimed at middle aged, and older, women who might feel insecure about their looks. The ad might think that they are giving women the option to feel either fit or fat, but it might actually be pointing out a description that the woman might not have ever associated with herself. A woman might be proud of her body, one that is similar to the first picture, and never considered herself fat until it was suggested.
Adaptive or Pseudo-critical. I
see an expanded lens in trying to show multiple perspectives or address diversity in her analysis but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens is superficially poised as outside of experience.
Media
Deconstruc-
tion
#5
Scene from Disneys Austin & Al-lie sit-com
I think your age and demographic would really influence how you see this video. They have a wide range of characters in the show to help connect with a variety of viewers. I think that would help lots of kids relate to the show. It seems to take place in a fairly affluent or at least middle class setting. The problems that they encounter would probably only be relevant to those from a similar background. Older viewers might find these story line cliche and played out, but they would relate and hit a nerve with younger viewers who can relate.
Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real differences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience.
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Portrait V: Mallory
Mallory was an elementary school teacher for ten years and had worked mainly with students from kindergarten to grade two. For the past five years, she has lived overseas but is now back in the United States substitute teaching in classes from kindergarten through to high school. She is also currently a full-time student working towards earning a position as a teacher librarian. Mallorys undergraduate degree was in gender, ethnicity, and race studies. At the beginning of the semester, Mallory described herself as very media literate and believed that her own thoughts, ideas, behaviors, values, and beliefs were only slightly impacted by the media. She expressed the belief that others are highly affected by media messages. Compared to other course participants, she did appear to have a clear understanding of the critical framework. She stated in her introductory video that this is the first time Ive heard the term media literacy and I would define it as: the ability to unpack hidden or deeper media messages.
The demonstration of Mallorys critical thinking about media messages was similar to Sarahs and Carolyns. Her analysis of the ToysRUs advertisement was similarly acritical and focused on the goal of the business selling toys by framing it as a one-stop-shop place you need to go to purchase toys and items children need or want to have a fulfilling childhood. The persuasive tactics she recognized in the advertisement did not extend beyond the superficial and extremely obvious symbols in the advertisement, stating that Most everyone has had a school and school bus experience, so the creators use that, and happy children, to tug on our heart strings. Her answers at the beginning of the course were uncritical and without critique. Her answers were surface level and did not connect with the concepts underlying the questions. Like others in the course, I had to push Mallory to recognize and discuss the racial and cultural stereotypes represented in the ad versus her focus on the very obvious metaphor of the advertisement
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comparing Toys-R-Us as a heaven-like experience for children. The only audience that Mallory focused on as interpreting the advertisement differently were people who did not have children, who might receive the message that they can go to Toys-R-Us if they need a present or gift for a child in their life.
It was not until later in the semester that I was able to gauge Mallorys grasp of the material and recognize that she was applying pre-critical and critical analyses to it. It was at this point that Mallory caught my attention and it was exciting to see that someone in the class was able to move past an acritical analysis. I was growing concerned that my choices for the media deconstructions were not easy enough to deconstruct and that I had somehow missed the mark with how I had organized the course.
Mallorys analysis of the Dodge Charger media deconstruction focused predominantly on the gender of the person who created the advertisement, Mallory stated, An advertising firm created this message for Dodge. I feel that the team who worked on this was (or at least I hope) comprised of all males. This is a step forward for Mallory but her answer is adaptive on two levels. First, her answer shows that Mallory was not thinking at a level of awareness that acknowledges the fact that gender biased advertisements have a significant social impact on the lives of women. Second, the critical lesson in the deconstruction of the Dodge Charger advertisement does not lie in determining the gender of the person that created the message; in fact, this is irrelevant. Mallory focuses on how men view the message rather than women.
Some men might view this message as evidence that all women nag, act demanding and are the needier partner in a relationship... long-term relationships and marriage are terrible for men; something so bad they need their own car to drive away from the issues. In fact, its SO bad their women owe them this car.
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Like Sarahs and Carolyns, Mallorys critique of the role of gender in the advertisement was focused on the idea that advertisements are created by a group of inherently flawed humans that are sitting around a table trying to marginalize women because they are chauvinistic. To counter this thinking, I asked the students to consider that the advertisement was most likely created by a team of professionals targeting a very narrow segment of the populationmost likely at a micro level that even determined the type of toothpaste their target audience usedand to disregard the chauvinism or racism of the creators as ultimately being inconsequential. I explained that the devastating consequence of advertisements like this lies in its fixating on definitions of masculinity and femininity that become ingrained in the social narrative and limit how young boys and girls create their identities and determine their self-worth. Being able to recognize this impact is the true goal of critical media literacy. When a person is able to see the media through the lens of social consequence, they are demonstrating a critical level of sociopolitical development. At times, Mallory was able to observe the limiting impact of the medias messages but would often fail to observe the social implications.
Another example of Mallorys adaptive tendencies was evident in her analysis of the
Disney advertisement. In her analysis, Mallory avoided the discussion of cultural stereotypes. In
this way, I saw Mallorys response as adaptive. She describes the advertisement as follows:
This culturally diverse group of teens is dressed in current fashion trends and sporting trendy haircuts. A P.E. teacher is acting as the drama teacher, but still blowing the stereotypical whistle, carrying a clipboard and speaking like an authoritative sports coach... I think they have simplified teen personas to the traditional roles of jock, cheerleader, nerd... and show teachers as authoritative and not considerate of their students feelings. I doubt older teens would watch this.
She brought up benign stereotypes in the advertisement, but did not speak to gender or culture. Because of this inability to look through the lens of gender or race, I felt that she was unable to
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reach a level of understanding that connected with the repercussions of positive and negative racial stereotyping. She was not able to see the limiting effect of advertisements like this on our perceptions of people different from ourselves.
Her response to the Killing Us Softly trailer shifted to pre-critical as she addressed gender bias and cultural stereotypes which revealed to me that she had become slightly more comfortable sharing her opinions in the course. Mallory stated: The media, especially in the Middle East, makes very clear assumptions about how men and boys should behave (like the man of the house) and how women and girls are portrayed as being ideal beauties and caretakers. This answer was unlike Sarahs and Carolyns in that Mallorys answer reached outside of her own lived experience and included a social level analysis regarding the impact of media messaging on real-life opportunities for women, stating that recently, ad campaigns seem to be changing to reflect women in a more positive light faster in some places and this is for sure impacting real-life opportunities and possibilities offered to women/girls in their personal and professional lives. In her response, she included some relevant examples that demonstrated that she was thinking about the issue of the representation of women in the media at a pre-critical/critical level of sociopolitical development. Her response reached for explanations for, and solutions to, the inequality she perceived in the medias representation of women. Unlike Sarah and Carolyn, Mallory displayed pre-critical and critical tendencies in her approach because she did not accept the problem of critical media literacy as being unsolvable; rather, she offered examples to show how the problem is being solved or resolved in other countries.
In her analysis of Merchants of Cool, Mallory explained that she watched the film with her husband and that it was like watching a biography of our adolescent years and it was a blow to see that many of the things we thought were cool and esoteric at the time were actually
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preordained to be successful by media giants. In the program, several market researchers claim that parents contribute to the prominence of the teen market by giving them guilt money. The film suggests that in the absence of parental attention and love, teens are able to temporarily fill that emotional void by buying tangible things, like brand name clothing and shoes, or purchasing experiences such as expensive trips or concert tickets, and eating junk food. As a result, parents feel less guilty about spending more time at work,and it helps their teens forget and forgive the fact that they are lacking the quality time with their parents that all children need. The vulnerability of young people to marketing messages is an important concept to grasp in regards to critical media literacy. The film makes the comparison between cool hunters and the colonial powers in early U.S. history. For Mallory, the notion that the media eliminates the option of exercising free will was too far of a stretch and that cool hunting is more of a capitalistic venture. This reaction felt adaptive to me, and in response, I pressed the course participants to think more deeply about how the media exploits teens during a stage in their development when most adolescents lack the judgment, confidence, and life experience necessary to make good decisions. Her reaction was again adaptive, stating that teens are more equipped to see through some of these marketing strategies than they were in the past and the recent rise of educating students in the fields of information and media literacies has, and will continue, to curb the level of teen susceptibility to media giants advertising. This particular discussion thread grew heated as classmates disagreed with Mallorys responses (and those of others) regarding the vulnerability of teens. Mallory seemed to be exasperated by the problem at the end of the thread, stating that she would like to think that todays media is not in the business of morality! But history has shown that sex, violence, and civil disobedience sells. How can we change this? I could tell that Mallorys perspective was widening, but it worried me that she, along with other course partici-
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pants, seemed to make some progress in their sociopolitical development only to slide backwards. This tendency made me feel uneasy and I recognized that I was growing impatient with the students answers to the media deconstructions and threads. My impatience was evident in the discussion as I felt as though the class was avoiding the difficult topics and just writing anything to make it seem as though they were being critical. In one post, I pushed the course participants to dig deeper with a barrage of questions:
Your answers are still surface level think long term think about psychological and physical effects of these messages that are received over, and over, and over. How have childrens purchasing power and influence increased, and why? Do you think its reasonable to believe that people can be transformed, from the earliest ages, into life-long consumers? Do you feel that there are, or should be, societal or moral reservations about marketers approaching children at such early ages? What role and responsibility do you feel parents should have when it comes to addressing the commercialization of childhood? Is it fair to expect them to cope, on their own, with a billion-dollar industry? Or should there be policies in place that help parents protect children from marketing? Why do you think the U.S. government has not taken an active role in protecting children from commercial culture? Do you see a difference between this issue and child labor laws or laws mandating that children wear bike helmets or protect children from the marketing of tobacco? Do you feel that voluntary guidelines, or so-called self-regulation, by the youth marketing industry offers enough protection for children? Are self-regulations working? Or do you see a need for stricter policies and regulations that limit marketing that directly targets children? Do you agree that we have become a nation that places a lower priority on teaching our children how to thrive socially, intellectually, even spiritually, than on training them to consume? Explain why or why not.
This tactic really did not work as I had hoped it would and I inadvertently managed to completely shut down the conversation that week. Course participants got defensive rather than more engaged and I really felt like I had messed up. I tried to bring them back that week but it did not work. However, the next week, the course participants as a whole did show more effort in their answers. In particular, Mallory expressed in the discussion thread that
in regards to challenging dominant ideologies, Im on the fence on whether it is or isnt the job of educators. After teaching abroad, I think educators need to be culturally
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sensitive, as well as cautious, when making blanket statements about what is right and wrong. I do believe that it is my job to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and safe. Ive found that by grounding my classes in democratic discourse, students of all age groups and grade levels start to gather information, form opinions and challenge dominant ideologies all on their own. The need for media literacy education becomes ever more apparent; I believe it is our duty to teach these types of life skills and concepts. However, I do not necessarily think media literacy needs to be taught as a separate discipline, but rather through cross-curricular lessons, projects and activities.
It was not until the end of the course that I really saw evidence of Mallorys growth; her final project was exceptional and our final interview indicated that she viewed the course as being very transformative. For her final project, she created an assignment for her middle school students titled Media Deconstruction: Crisis in Syria. Her project included Guidelines for Respectful Discussion and gave notes to teachers about the potential triggers and feelings that might come up during difficult discussions. Her project also demonstrated a clear path to collaborating with her colleagues and provided exceptional cross-curricular activities to introduce critical media literacy across the curriculum. I loved this project because it was innovative, focused on empathy building, and gave course participants the chance to take action by writing op-ed pieces. As it was for Carolyn, the final project represented a major shift for Mallory in that it demonstrated that she had attained a deeper level of understanding about the importance of inspiring social action when it comes to teaching critical media literacy.
At the beginning of the semester, Mallory had never heard of critical media literacy and viewed the media as a source of news and information. Mallory remained firmly acritical and adaptive throughout the semester but was able to reach outside of her own life experience and include social level analysis by the end. Mallory had a firmer grasp of the critical framework than either Sarah or Carolyn, but unlike them, she was not complacent about the problem and offered examples and ways to resolve it. From the final interview, it was evident that, like Car-
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Full Text

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PREPARING TEACHERS FOR CRITICAL MEDIA LITERACY EDUCATION: PORTRAITS OF SOCIOPOLITICAL DEVELOPMENT by DEIRDRE J. MORGENTHALER B.A., Oklahoma State University, 1997 M.A., University of Colorado Denver, 2008 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment Of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Education and Human Development 2016

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ii 2016 DEIRDRE J. MORGENTHALER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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iii This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by Deirdre J. Morgenthaler has been approved for the School of Education and Human Development Urban Ecologies Program by Margarita Bianco, Chair Carlos Hipolito Delgado Laura Summers Shelley Z ion Date: December 17, 2016

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iv Morgenthaler, Deirdre J., (PhD, Education and Human Development) Preparing Teachers for Critical Media Literacy Education: Portraits of Sociopolitical Development Thesis directed by Associate Professor Carlos P. Hipolito Delgado ABSTRACT This study examined participant's experiences in an eight week graduate level critical media li teracy course that introduced the participants to the concept of critical media literacy and critical theories about media. Lawrence Lightfoot's (1997) qualitative portraiture research method was used to uncover themes and capture participant's perspectives as they relate to the two overarc hing research questions framing the study: First, do the participant portraits reveal gai ns in critical media literacy development? Second, at the end of the course, did the participants perceive the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)? Six portraits were completed including; four study participants, t he course, and the researcher. The data consisted of online observation of participant discussions, transcribed course assignment and discussion content, questionnaires, reflective field notes, and individual interviews. The portraits show that all the par ticipants demonstrated evidence of growth in terms of critical media literacy by the end of the course. Watts' (1999) five stage theory of sociopolitical development was used in the po rtraits to frame participant's growth in understanding and knowledge of the political, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media. Growth in regards to sociopolitical deve lopment was not obviously revealed for all the participants. Additionally, gains in critical media literacy and sociopolitical developmen t were not easily assessed as they did not appear to occur in a linear or consistent way (Watts, Griffith, Abdul Adil, 1999). Finally, there was a significant discrepancy between the observed and self reported gains in critical media literacy and sociop o

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v li tical development of participants. These findings reinforce the importance of recognizing that growth in regards to sociopolitical development and critical media literacy is nuanced and may include inconsistencies, regressive tendencies, stagnancies, and f luctuation throughout the pr ocess of the development of critical consciousness. This study points to a need for future research focusing on the unique challenges of teaching critical media literacy and sociopolitical develo pment in an online environment, t ime frames in a course setting to address concepts like sociop olitical development and critical media literacy, models of critical consciousness development and their relationship to sociopolitical development and critical media literacy, and identifying s p ecific strategies to promote sociopolitical development, critical media literacy development, and critical consciousness. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I do recommend its publication. Approved: Margarita Bianco Carlos P. Hipolito Del gado

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vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This study marks a personal milestone of self acceptance that would not have been possible without the support of my family, friends, and colleagues. I am especially grateful to my husband Eric, for his love and for keeping our fa mily fed, literally and figuratively, throughout this journey. You are an amazing person and I am so grateful that I get to share my life with you. To Anne, Peter, Todd, and Andres: thank you for your support through this journey. For my daughters Isabel and Mary Kate: the moment you were born this work began. Your lives inspired my passion for media literacy. It is my hope that this experience serves you as a model of perseverance and possibility for your futures as smart, creative, funny, and brave women I zzy, your nurturing soul lifts me up and inspires me to be a more patient and loving person. Mary Kate, your witty humor is a testament to your ability to see the bright side of everything. I can't wait to see what mountains you two move. For my mother, Betsy and my stepfather, Lon: your tireless optimism, encouragement, and su pport are undoubtedly the only reasons I am able to claim this accomplishment. I share this with both of you and will always be grateful that you never let me give up on my dream. Thanks to my dad and M.J. for their love, support, and encouragement and for inspiring me with their adventurous, generous spirits. Thank you to my tribe of sister women that have sustained my spirit over the years, especially my siblings and co usins. Susan and Leigh, thank you for always answering your phone. I love you more. To my committee: Shelley Zion, thank you for believing in me and helping me understand the responsibility and possibility of exceptional leadership and scholarship. Margar ita Bianco, thank you for your inspiring work with Pathways2Teaching, and for your support throughout this pr ocess. Laura Summers, I learned to love research and writing in your qualitative methods course and will forever be grateful for your advocacy and support in the early stages of my adventure. Finally, I am immensely grateful to my Dissertation Advisor, Carlos Hipolito Delgado, for his gift of delivering motivation, positive critique, and encouragement. Thank you for taking the risk and working with me, and for modeling the type of scholar, professional, and mentor I aspire to be.

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vii TABLE OF CONTENTS I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 1 II. LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ....................... 5 People and Media ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 5 Media, youth, vulnerability, and oppression ................................ ..................... 7 Media Literacy as a Critical Pedagogy ................................ ................................ ... 9 Sociopolitical Development and Media Literacy ................................ ............. 11 Teacher Sociopolitical Development and Critical Education ........................... 17 Transformative Learning Theory ................................ ................................ ...... 18 Media Literacy Education in the U.S. ................................ ............................... 19 III. METHOD ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 2 5 Portraiture ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 2 5 Context ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 27 Voice ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 28 Relationships ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 28 Emergent Themes ................................ ................................ ............................. 28 The Aesthetic Whole ................................ ................................ ......................... 29 Research Procedures ................................ ................................ ............................... 30 Setting ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 30 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 31 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ 33 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 34 Credibility and Trustworthiness ................................ ................................ ........ 42

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viii IV. ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 44 Portrait I: Researcher ................................ ................................ .............................. 44 Portrait II: The Course ................................ ................................ ............................ 47 Portrait III: Sarah ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 56 Portrait IV: Carolyn ................................ ................................ ................................ 73 Portrait V: Mallory ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 84 Portrait VI: Matthew ................................ ................................ ............................... 95 V: CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 105 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 105 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 106 Research Question One ................................ ................................ ..................... 106 Research Question Two ................................ ................................ .................... 111 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 112 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 113 Expectations of Student Growth ................................ ................................ ....... 113 Encouraging and Supporting Critical Dialogue in Online Courses .................. 114 Encouraging Action ................................ ................................ .......................... 115 Assessing Growth ................................ ................................ ............................. 115 Future Research ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 116 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 117 VI. REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 119 VII. APPENDICES ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 130 A. PRE COURSE QUESTIONNAIR E ................................ ................................ .. 13 0

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ix B. MEDIA DECONSTRUCTION EXAMPLES ................................ ................... 132 C. ONE ON ONE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ................................ ..................... 134 D. SAMPLES FROM CODING SPREADSHEETS ................................ .............. 135

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x LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1. Watts' Five Stage Theory of Sociopolitical Development (Watts, Griffith, & Abdul Adil, 1999) ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 15 2. Identifying Sociopolitical Development via Participant Responses and Key Question ........... 38 3. Portraiture Framework and Aspects of the Inquiry Process ................................ ..................... 40 4. Searching for Emergent Themes: Portraiture's Five Modes of Synthesis, Convergence, and Contrast ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 41 5. Five Key Questions of Critical Media Literacy (Center for Media Literacy, 2013) ................ 50 6. Sarah Sample Coding Matrix ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 70 7. Carolyn Sample Coding Matrix ................................ ................................ ................................ 82 8. Mallory Sample Coding Matrix ................................ ................................ ................................ 93 9. Matthew Sample Coding Matrix ................................ ................................ ............................ 102

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION In the United States, exposure to media is becoming an inescapable component of chi ldren 's lives. Media is a powerful environmental health factor, as influential as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Research into the harmful effects of media on children is extensive, and although total avoidance of media may be impossible, the evidence is clear that excessive, or d evelopmentally inappropriate use carries grave health ri sks for children and their families (Amer ican Academy of Pediatrics, 2016; American College of Pediatricians, 2016; Boston Children's Hospital, 2015; Lin et al., 2016). The Center on Media and Child Health cites numerous studies that confirm a negative rel ationship between electronic media use (specifically, the internet) and depression, internet addiction, and brain development in youth (Boston Children's Hospital, 2015). The National Institutes of Health found that social media use was significantly assoc iated with increased depression in a nationally representative sample of young adults (Lin et al., 2016). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that rapid brain development during the first years of life is best supported by human interaction and that screen time should be avoided co mpletely for children under the age of two (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011). In addition to this recommendation, the AAP's most recent policy statement on media violence goes further to suggest that pediatricians incorporate and prescribe "media diets" as routine aspects of wellness examinations and urges the entertainment industry to "eliminate gratuitous portrayals of interpe rsonal violence and hateful, racist, misogynistic, or homophobic language or situations unless e xplicitly portraying how destructive such words and actions can be" (American Academy of Ped iatrics, 2016, p. 7). The American College of Pediatricians (2016) reported similar findings, war ning that excessive exposure to media, especially while ver y young, has been associated with lo w

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2 er academic performance, increased sleep problems, obesity, behavior problems, increased a ggression, lower self esteem, depression, and increased high risk behaviors (including sexual a ctivity at a younger age); therefo re, it encourages parents to become media literate and to limit their children's screen time. Since media literacy is an important skill for living in an environment that is constantly barraged by powerful images, words, and sounds, the need for media l iteracy education could not be more urgent. Like other forms of literacy, the purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective co mmunicators, and active citizens in today 's world (National Assoc iation of Media Literacy Education, 2007). Critical media literacy expands upon traditional n otions of literacy to include viewing, creating, and sharing all forms of media and teaches the i mportance of being mindful about the roles that media play, both positive and problematic, in shaping social thought (Hobbs, 2013; Kellner & Share, 2009). The argument for media literacy education in the United States and abroad is extensive and spans four decades of research (Au fderheide, 1993; Bauerlein & Walesh, 2009; Bazalgette, 2010; Buckingham, 1993; 2008; Ch erow O'Leary, 1993; Considine,1992; Duncan,1988; Golay, 1973; Giroux, 2010; Hobbs & Moore, 2013; Jenkins, 2006; Kellner, 1988; Jhally, 2000, 2006; Jolls, 2016; Kincheloe, 2002; Kubey, 1997; Masterman, 1976, 1998; McLaren, 1994; Prensky, 2001; Potter, 1998; Share, 2015; Thoman & Jolls, 2008; Tyner, 1998; Worsnop, 1994). Despite extensive support for crit ical media literacy education from the fields o f communication, education, and public health, li ttle has been published on the implementation and measurement of critical media literacy educ ation efforts (Hobbs, 1998; Lenhart et al., 2007; Masterman, 2001; Prewitt, 2009; Share, 2009; Tyner, 1998). Moreo ver, few scholars have concentrated on teachers' perceptions of critical m e

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3 dia literacy education and how to prepare teachers to teach critical media literacy (Buckingham, 2013; Hart, 2013; Hobbs, 2005; Kellner & Share, 2007). Therefore, a need exists for research that investigates the best ways to introduce educators to critical media literacy and how to su pport their students in doing the same. Stein and Prewitt (2009) argue that one of the challenges facing the implementation of critical media literacy e ducation in school curricula is that "despite the growing recognition of critical media literacy education as a field of study, few researchers have focused on its implementation" (p. 232). Hobbs (2005) contends that teachers are the ones leading the effor t to bring critical media literacy into classrooms, although it is "impossible" to know just how many teachers are doing so, and to what extent (p. 74). The goal of this study is to address this gap in the research by providing insight into teachers' exper iences as they navigated a graduate level education course focusing on media literacy education and critical theories about media. Lawrence Lightfoot 's (1997) portraiture method was used to uncover themes and capture the participants' perspectives as they relate to the two overarching research questions that framed the investigation. First, do the participant portraits reveal gains in critical media literacy and s ociopolitical development? Second, at the end of the course, did the participants perceive the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)? The use of portra iture as a research method provided a means of uncovering the participants' perspectives and ca pturing the subtle nuances of those experiences by revealing con vergent threads, illuminating metaphors, and overarching symbols that support a disciplined, empirical process of description, interpretation, analysis, and synthesis (Lawrence Lightfoot, 1997). This study sought to provide an aesthetically complete interp retation of the experience through narrative development and the creation of individual portraits of the study participants, a portrait of the course itself, and a self

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4 portrait of the researcher. Portraiture is an inherently iterative methodology that see ks to identify important and relevant themes from observation and documentation (Lawrence Lightfoot, 1997). As such, portraiture does not rely on pre existing theory. Making wise choices about media requires informed inquiry, independent thinking, and cr itical analysis. During the analysis and construction of the portraits, varying shifts in perspe ctive, degrees of transformation, and depth of critical consciousness emerged thematically. Watts (1999) five stage theory of sociopolitical development provid ed a framework to gauge partic ipant's growth in understanding and knowledge of the political, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media and was used to code participant narratives. Discrepancies b etween the participant's perceived grow th and the researcher's assessment of their growth in r egards to aspects of sociopolitical development and critical media literacy skills were the most predominant and consistent themes in the data. Further, none of the participants' gains in critical medi a literacy skills and aspects of sociopolitical development were linear or continuous. Although this study did not set out to determine the implications regarding specific ped agogical practices for the development of critical media literacy skills, the e xperiences described by the participants, along with the critical media literacy and sociopolitical development liter ature, provide valuable considerations for educators teaching critical media literacy and other su bjects related to the development of soci opolitical development. This information can be used to inform teacher preparation and professional development programs and to augment future r esearch about critical media literacy education by providing important insight into the learning experiences of educators surrounding critical media literacy and sociopolitical development.

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5 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter outlines the research upon which this study is based. First, the complex rel ationship between people and media is described in terms of how media use and corporate media ownership contribute to the imposition of the media on vulnerable youth. Next, media literacy education is presented as a critical pedagogy capable of countering oppression and tied to pr omoting sociopolitical developm ent through growth in understanding and knowledge of the polit ical, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media. Finally, media literacy e ducation efforts in the United States are discussed. People and Media The roles that media and ne w technologies play in the interrelationship between human connection and communication are complex and profound. More than five decades ago, Marshall McLuhan warned that "there can only be disaster arising from unawareness of the causalities and effects i nherent in our technologies" (McLuhan, 1962, p. 254). Humans are not always able to see or predict the profound effects of a technology because we are so distracted by the content of a medium that it "blinds us to the character of the medium" (p. 9, emphas is added). McLuhan's significant contribution to understanding the impact of new communication technologies upon the human experience theorized that a message, and the medium through which it is delivered, are inseparable, or "the medium is the message" (M cLuhan, 1964, p. 7). McLuhan argued that technology is neither inherently good' or bad' for humans, but rather should be examined in terms of the message that is received and the social and personal change in dynamics that occurs as a result. Together, t he consequences of a medium and a message are equal to their uniquely

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6 human interpretations. Thus, the message of a television advertisement is not the story or drama that is produced, but the social or personal change in thought, action, or behavior that occurs as a result. For example, an evening news story may change a person's perspective on an event, but this is not a result of the nature of the content of the story; rather, this change comes about through the unintended consequence of how that story i s interpreted. McLuhan's impressive abi lity to understand the profound ramifications that these extensions, innovations, technologies, and inventions can have led to the following warning: if a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture. It is comparable to what happens when a new note is added to a melody. And when the sense ratios alter in any culture then what had appeared lucid before may suddenly become opaque, and what had been vague or opaque will become translucent. (McLuhan, 1962, p. 41) As McLuhan described, the impact of media on society as a whole is tremendous. The accuracy of what McLuhan prophesied in the 1960s ab out electronic interdepen dence is startlingly evident today. Thanks to media multitasking, U.S. adults will spend an average of more than twelve hours per day using media, which is nearly an hour more than the average in 2011, according to Nielsen 's Total Audience Report (Nielson, 2015). Numbers suggest that a saturation point is near and that increased time spent with one medium will come at the e xpense of time spent with another (eMarketer, 2016). Interestingly, daily media use is now rising slowly, in co mparison to the past, and is expected to grow by just three minutes between 2016 and 2018. Students entering college in the year 2017 will have never experienced a world wit hout the internet or without instant, perpetual access to both information and each other. Mediated messages are embedded and naturalized into our daily lives from the minute we wake up in the morning until we close our eyes at night. In 1983, approximately 50 corporations

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7 controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. ( Bagdikian, 2000). Today, 90% of U.S. media is controlled by six corporations: Comcast, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS (Bishop, 2015). The owners of these corporations are 15 billionaires who shape our world through their tremendous global reach via all forms of media communication as they co ntrol most of what we watch, hear, and read every single day through their television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels, and even many of ou r favorite websites (Vinton, 2016). Media, youth, vulnerability, and oppression Although the significance of this drastic increase in media use and the narrow messages being conveyed has an enormous impact on the human connection experience, many argue th at children are the most vulnerable. Their constant search for their own identity, combined with youthful naivet ÂŽ arguably makes children particularly vulnerable to media influences and ma rketing strategies (Jhally, 2006). School age children are consider ed to be among the most vu lnerable to the risks of mediated messaging as consumerism is largely driven by a desire for co nnection and acceptance, along with social pressures relating to having the right clothes, shoes, cars, computers, and cell phones that are needed to fit in (Dell Vecchio, 1999; Quart; 2003; Rushkoff, 1996; Sutherland et al., 2002). Steinberg and Kincheloe (2004) argue that the media encourage a culture of consumption that places a greater emphasis on what one has than what one does. Amon g their arguments is that corporate controlled media promote fast foods and ot her products that lead to obesity and childhood diseases; they also sell toys and games that pr omote violence. In an effort to create loyal customers, major corporations exploit the insecurities of young people and also heavily influence the media that they consume. Corporate media are

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8 also prone to sending negative messages and reinforcing the stereotypes and prevailing value systems that could have deleterious effects on uncriti cal consumers (Buckingham, 2013). According to Jhally (2000), advertisers tap into our collective consciousness by connec ting the possession of material things with happiness. Advertisers commodify the human desire for connection, friendship, and intimacy and reify notions of morality and culture. Like a drug, the happiness that commodities provide creates a normalization of the feeling of happiness that is provided by the market. Although we may be addicted to things, what we really crave is human connec tion. Giroux (2013) argues that although young people, in particular, are an easy target in the media war, the situation is even more grim for youths whose lives are shaped by geographic location, wealth, class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and (dis )ability. According to Ward (2004), there is a high correlation between African American high school students, low racial self esteem, and multiple forms of media use. Naraji and Buckingham s (2010) report on the state of youth and media confirm that the n umber of hours spent using electronic media (i.e., te levision, movies, and video games) are highest among poor students of color, exceeding 6.5 hours per day (Goodman, 2003; Nielson Media Research, 2000). This finding led the American Aca demy of Pediatrics (2011) to issue a policy statement that encouraged schools to develop a critical media literacy curriculum. As Buckingham argues, this has led scholars to create a critical media literacy pedagogy that empowers urban youth to deconstruct dominant media na rratives, develop much needed academic and critical literacies, and create their own counter narratives to those presented by the media, which are largely negative depictions of urban youth and their commun ities (Duncan Andrade, 2004; Duncan Andrade & Morr ell, 2005; Goodman, 2003; Grossberg, 1994).

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9 Some argue that because of their early exposure to digital technologies, young people think and learn differently from older generations. Prensky (2001) refers to these "digital n atives" as native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games, and the internet they are empowered and confident media creators and experts in finding information. There is an ongoing debate regarding how media impacts the lives of this new generation of young people and the ways that growing up in a rapidly changing, media driven environment with instant and perpetual access to information has changed how people communicate, gain knowledge, and process information (Jenkins, 2006; Kubey, 2010; Rideout et al., 2010; Prensk y, 2001; McDo nnell, 2001). Tapscott's (1998) Growing up Digital and Prensky's (2001) "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" argue that those who are being raised in the internet era are fluent in finding info rmation, creating content, and are very comfortab le in a media environment. However, regardless of how adept young people may be at interacting with media, others argue that the media's co nstant presence is perhaps so normalized that the stream of ideological messages that is shaping young people's ident ities and behaviors is being left unchallenged (Buckingham, 1990; Hobbs, 1998; Jhally, 2006; Kellner & Share, 2005; Masterman, 2001; Share, 2009). Media Literacy as a Critical Pedagogy The theoretical constructs that guide my understanding of, and passion for, critical media literacy education are founded upon Paolo Freire's tradition of critical pedagogy. Freire's (1973) critique of traditional educational approaches argued that deficit oriented approaches to educ ation are oppressive and maintain social in equality. Freire's work focused on the indivisibility of information, education, pedagogy, politics, and power. Freire believed that "education makes sense because women and men learn that through learning they can make and remake the mselves, because women and men are able to take responsibility for themselves as beings capable

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10 of knowing of knowing that they know and knowing that they don't (Freire, 2004, p. 15, e mphasis added). Critical pedagogies like critical media literacy "offer the promise of educat ing students to be able to reject the official lies of power and the utterly reductive notion of training as a substitute for informed modes of education" (Giroux, 2013, p. 125). Shor (1980) defines critical pedagogy as; habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichÂŽs, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social contex t, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse. (p. 129) At the core of critical pedagogy is the notion of praxis, which is the concept "by which students and teachers commit to education that leads to action and a reflection of that action" (Duncan, 2008, p. 24). Critical media literacy provides a means of uncovering the political, e xposing problems, and providing meaningful ways to act upon those problems. If used as a means of "problem posing" education, critical media literacy can be used to help individuals develop their ability to critically perceive the way they exist in the world with which, and in which, they find themselves (Duncan, 2 008, p. 83). From there grows the ability to see a reality that can be altered (p. 83). In this way, critical pedagogy is emancipatory in that it demands that one adopt a "concept of oneself and the rest of society as being made up of conscious beings enac ting co nscious intent upon the world" (Freire, 2000, p. 70). Vygotsky (1962,1978) proposed that a zone exists when a less developed individual or student interacts with a more advanced person or teacher, thereby allowing the student to achieve things that would otherwise not be possible when acting on his or her own. By inviting students to develop their critical thought and action on various subject matters, the teacher herself deve l

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11 ops as a critical democratic educator who becomes informed of the needs, conditions, speech habits, and perceptions of the students; using this knowledge, she designs activities into which she integrates her own special expertise. A classroom that employs a critical literacy curriculum, like critical media literacy, creates a z one into which teachers invite students to deepen their i nterrogation of knowledge in its global context. Besides learning in process how to design a course for students, the critical teacher also learns how to design the course with the students. This mut ual learning process develops the democratic competence of all parties involved by n egotiating the curriculum and sharing power. The National Association of Media Literacy Education (2007) describes the Core Princ iples of Media Literacy Education as follo ws: Media literacy education a) requires active inquiry and critical thinking about the messages we receive and create; b) expands the concept of literacy to include all forms of media (i.e., reading and writing); c) builds and reinforces skills for lear ne rs of all ages. Like print literacy, those skills necessitate integrated, interactive, and repeated practice; e) develops informed, reflective and engaged participants essential for a democratic s ociety; f) recognizes that media are a part of culture and f unction as agents of socialization; and g) affirms that people use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages. Media literacy aims to expand the concept of literacy to include different forms of med ia culture, information and communication technologies, and new media, as well as deepen the potential of literacy education to critically analyze relationships between media and audiences, information and power (Kellner and Share, 2009). Sociopolitical D evelopment and Media Literacy Based on Freire s (1970) theory of critical consciousness, sociopolitical development e xplains how sociopolitical consciousness and action cooperate to form a praxis capable of affec t

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12 ing social change. Watts, Williams, and Ja gers (2003) refer to sociopolitical development as co nsciousness and engagement in actions to change inequitable structures. Prilleltensky (2003) su ggests that sociopolitical development may be the best, most sustainable type of prevention and promotion th at marginalized groups can pursue because of how it encourages youth to interpret and change how they experience oppression. Watts and Guessous (2013) describe sociopolitical development as the "evolving, critical understanding of the political, economic, cultural, and other systemic forces that shape society and one s status within it, and the associated process of growth in relevant knowledge, analytical skills, and emotional faculties" (p. 1788). Watts (2003) et al. state, Sociopolitical development em phasizes an understanding of the cultural and political forces that shape one's status in society. We use it to describe a process of growth in a person's knowledge, analytical skills, emotional faculties, and capacity for action in political and soc ial systems. SPD is not limited to resisting oppression in the interest of justice, however; the capacity to envision and help create a just society is an essential part of the process as well (p. 185) Sociopolitical development can be viewed as a con tinuum along which a person can make grand leaps from acritical to liberatory or shift slightly from acritical to adaptive. Sociop olitical development is built upon one's sense of connection with a community organization, sense of agency and the capacity a nd readiness to recognize social roots of problems. Constructs that are identified as being precursory aspects of sociopolitical development include; sense of co mmunity, cognitive empowerment, experience of agency, sociopolitical control, social attributio n, and commitment to societal involvement and community connection. Sense of community through community organizations is defined as a composite of (a) one's affective bond to her geographic community, (b) one's sense of connection to one or more community organizations, (c) the degree to which one perceives the organization(s) in which she participates to be influe n

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13 tial in the larger community, and (d) the perceived ability of the organization(s) to connect the individual to the larger community. This type of affective connection to a community organiz ation and the organization's perceived efficacy in effecting change have been described as key facilitators of sociopolitical development (Hughey, Speer, & Peterson's, 1999). Cognitive e mpowerment is viewed as a corollary of sociopolitical consciousness and includes the understan ding of three dimensions: (a) that power develops through relationships, (b) political functioning, and (c) how manipulating ideology is a feature of power. Seeks to capture a person's understan ding of the way that power works and how change may or not be possible because of the manife station of power in relationship to the issue being interrogated (Speer & Peterson, 2000). Exper ience of agency refers to the extent to which participants have been involved in community or political projects that allowed them to exert and further develop their individual sense of agency (Morgan & Streb, 2001). Sociopolitical control assesses thinking, motivation, and personality as they relate to a person' s belief that their actions in the social and political system can lead to d esired outcomes. (Zimmerman & Zahniser, 1991). Social attribution refers to the degree to which individuals ascribe their problems and the problems of people in their communities t o sociopoli tical sources versus intrapersonal sources. For example, neighborhood violence may be explained as a function of community impoverishment by someone with a high orientation toward social attribution, whereas someone with low level social attribu tion may explain the same phenom enon in terms of characteristics inherent to individuals who perpetrate violence, e.g., poor moral character (Watts and Guessous, 2013). A related concept to sociopolitical development is critical consciousness. Watts, Diem er, and Voight (2011) describe critical consciousness as having three components: critical reflection, political efficacy, and critical action. Further, critical consciousness is thought to produce a pos i

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14 tive self concept, a sense of agency, and motivation to reduce sociopolitical inequity (Diemer, Hsieh, & Pan, 2009). Though the concepts of critical consciousness and sociopolitical develo pment are highly related, sociopolitical development is privileged in this study as it closely related to notions of cr itical media literacy. For this study, Watts' (1999) five stage theory of sociopoli tical development was used frame participant's growth in understanding and knowledge of the political, economic, cultural, and systemic forces conveyed through media (See Ta ble 1). In sociopolitical development, the relationship between consciousness and action e xplains how praxis capable of effecting social change. Freire (1973) labels action unguided by a realistic understanding of sociopolitical forces as mechanistic act ion and consciousness una ccompanied by action as verbalism. These two possible outcomes of engaging with one's sociop olitical reality, mechanistic action or verbalism, represent incomplete forms of sociopolitical d evelopment. Both consciousness and action are necessary for true praxis and for sociopolitical change (Watts & Hipolito Delgado, 2015).

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15 Table 1 Watts' Five Stage Theory of Sociopolitical Development (Watts, Griffith, & Abdul Adil, 1999) Stage of Sociopolitical Development Key Action Concept Acritical Stage: Resource asymmetry is ou tside of awareness, or the existing social o rder is thought to reflect real differences in the capabilities of group members. In e ssence, it is a "just world" (Rubin & Peplau, 1975). Challenge internal oppression: W hat contr ibutions have African Americans made to the U.S. and the world? Critical thinking on class and race inequality: Why are the kids in this school (impoverished all black) not allowed to take their books home when kids in other (affluent white) schoo ls can? Adaptive Stage: Asymmetry may be acknowledged, but the system mining it is seen as immutable. Predatory, antisocial, or accommodation strategies are employed to maintain a positive sense of self and to a cquire social and material rewards. Encourage critical thinking about socializ ation and psychic alienation: What does this message tell us about the populations being represented? Decision making and values clarification: What is the connection that is being made between the population being represented and lifestyle? Pre critical Stage: Complacency gives way to awareness of and concerns about asy mmetry and inequality. The value of adapt ation is questioned. Cognitive reframing: How many explan ations can we come up with for the inequality we observe? Critical Stage: There is a desire to learn more about asymmetry in justice, oppre ssion, and liberation. Through this process, some will conclude that the asymmetry is unjust and social change efforts are warran ted. Critical consciousness: What events now and in the past maintain the inequities at hand? Moral reasoning: Is the inequity a sign that something is wrong with society? Why? Why not? Liberation Stage: The experience and awareness of oppression is salient. Liber ation behavior (involvement in social action and community development) is tangible and frequent. Adaptive behaviors are eschewed. Community activism, solidarity, and liber ation behavior: What can you do (personally and as a gro up) to improve the situation?

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16 Critical media literacy has a focused lens on ideology and the ways that gender, race, class, and sexuality are conveyed through the media. It provides ways for educators to include alternative media in its analysis to include the subjects of pleasure, social context, power, and resistance (Kellner & Share, 2009, p. 34.). A critical media literacy approach also expands liter acy to include information literacy, technical literacy, multimodal lite racy, and other attempts to broaden print literacy concepts to include different tools and modes of communicating. In add ition to these elements, critical media literacy brings about an understanding of ideology, power, and domination that challenges relat ivist and apolitical notions of most media education in order to guide teachers and students in their explorations of how power and information are always linked. Combining cultural studies with critical pedagogy, critical media literacy addresses issues o f gender, race, class, and power by connecting the traditional pedagogy of critical media liter acy to cultural studies and critical pedagogy (p. 5). The goal of critical media literacy is to bring an awareness of the role that media plays, both positively and problematically, in shaping social thought by revealing the ways that ideology, power, and domination are inherent how that info rmation is conveyed (Kellner & Share, 2009). Sociopolitical development has the potential to enhance and support the goals of critical media literacy education in the same ways that cultural studies support critical pedagogies. Fu sing sociopolitical development with critical media literacy encourages a broader sense of e mpowerment and more opportunity for action than either i s capable of alone. Sociopolitical deve lopment helps connect awareness of the oppressive potential of the media to a skill set that e ncourages action. We are better prepared to challenge oppression when we are critically literate and possess a well develop ed sociopolitical lens.

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17 Teacher Sociopolitical Development and Critical Education Critical educators view teaching as a political act (Apple, 1990). As youth who have been historically marginalized learn to read and write (for example), a critical appro ach to education helps them to re read and ultimately re write the world. The power of new media in the lives of young people cannot be denied for example Digital Natives are sophisticated media producers that possess skills that are undoubtedly benefici al to success in a media age, giving them leve rage and a voice that, some argue facilitates a more democratic society through the development of more literate and thoughtful participants (Gee, 2003; Hill, 2009; Hobbs, 2007; Kress, 2003; Morrell, 2008). As educators, we must look at the possibility of bringing in powerful ways of working with youth and media to improve academic development and meaningful social e xchange. Educators require opportunities to learn and practice acting as advocates of change to d evelop the sociopolitical development necessary to resist oppression in educational systems. Zion, Allen, and Jean (2015) investigated how universities and school districts can provide learning experiences for educators that prepare them to do meaningful equity work in the context of pu blic education. They contend that In order to enact a critical pedagogy, teachers must develop robust skills to shift the status quo, by sharing power and voice with students, engaging students in conversations about i dentity, group membership, institutional systems of power and privilege, and issues of equality and social justice; and developing their skills to engage colleagues and administrators as allies for student voice projects (p. 920). Zion, York, and Stickney (2017, under review) state that when educators embark on work that resists oppression it is often "isolated and fragmented within classrooms because of restraints including school expectations, a lack of time, teaching to standards, and the diffic ulty facilitating

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18 such sensitive subject matter" (p. 38) One of the recommendations the authors make to support teachers in successfully collaborating with students to resist oppression is to provide professional development opportunities that focus on inc reasing teachers' understanding of "themselves in terms of race, power, and privilege, societal systems that work for or against their students, and the importance and nuance of various cultural contexts" (p. 39). Critical media literacy ped agogy provide s the opportunity for this type of investigation and reflection in essence enhancing the sociopolitical development of teachers so they can deliver critical education to their students. A goal of this study was to investigate how teacher participation in a critical media literacy course impacted sociopolitical development. Transformative Learning Theory Gaining media literacy skills assumes that the participant experiences something tran sformative. In the context of this study, the teachers took part in a course that was created to foster the development of media literacy skills and to foster perspective change. Transformative Lear ning is described by Mezirow (2000) as a process by which we transform our taken for granted frames of reference (meaning pers pectives, habits of mind, mindsets) to make them more incl usive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may gene rate beliefs and opinions that will prove more justified to guide action" (pp. 7 8). Mezirow (2003) de scribes transformation as a cognitive rational process: Transformative learning is understood as a uniquely adult form of metacognitive reasoning. Reasoning is the process of advancing and assessing reasons, especially in those that provide arguments supporting beliefs resulting in dec isions to act. Beliefs are justified when they are based on good reasons (p. 58)". Mezirow's theory of perspective transformation suggests that the process of perspective transformation takes place in ten stages that evol ve from a disorienting dilemma, self examination, critical assessment,

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19 recognition of shared assumptions, exploring new roles, planning action, acquiring new knowledge, trying new roles, and building confidence in new roles. Transformational learning theo ry was used in the preliminary course design to foster transformative experiences as much as possible. Assignments were created as disorienting dilemmas that would hopefully lead to the next stages of transformation for students. Media Literacy Education i n the U.S. In its effort to address the need for a more collective media literacy approach in the U.S., the Aspen Media Literacy Leadership Institute published the Aspen Report defining media liter acy as "the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and crea te media in a variety of forms" (Aufde rheide, 1993, p. 2). According to the writers of the report, at the heart of media literacy is i nformed inquiry. Through a four step "inquiry" process involving awareness, analysis, reflection, and action, media litera cy assists young people to acquire an empowering set of "navigational" skills that help make wise choices possible, develop independent thinking, and foster critical analysis. The Center on Media Literacy lists its "Five Core Concepts" that a media literat e pe rson should understand about advertisements and the media (Share, Thoman, & Jolls, 2010). First, a person must be able to recognize that all media messages are constructed. Then, they must be able to understand that media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules and that different people experience the same media message differently. Finally, a media literate person must be able to recognize the agendas and embedded values that are included in the messages that are perpetuat ed in order to gain profit and/or power. A protectionist stance regarding media education is rooted in opposition to, and fear of, the media. As a conservative approach to media education, it is focused on the need to inoculate viewers against the addicti ve and exploitive risks of media exposure. This approach assumes that

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20 the audience is passive and is based on the magic bullet theory, or model of communication, that posits that messages are directly received and entirely accepted by the audience (Kellner & Share, 2007). Critics of this anti media approach suggest that it will cause students to either r egurgitate "politically correct" responses to media critique or reject the idea of media literacy a ltogether (Buckingham, 1994). However, certain aspects of a protectionist approach can be useful when students address the naturalizing processes of ideology and the interrelationship with social injustice, but it is deeply awed when it is promoted through dogmatic orthodoxy and undem ocratic pedagogy (Kellner & Share, 2007, p. 8). Media literacy efforts in the current context of the U.S. education system have been li mited to the standardized curriculum set by the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Critical thinking, inductive and deductive reasoning, the ability to use and create media, information li teracy, collaboration skills, self direction, and invention are, indeed, crucial aspects of gaining an education. However, a close examination of how these terms are conceptualized reveals that the subsequent effect of these iterations on a truly critical pedagogy is misleading, problematic, and limiting. The language of the Common Core State Standards Initiative is promising; however, the terminology used in this seemingly progressive pedagogy is in reality th e banking model of education disguised as emancipatory education. Where one might expect to find the merger b etween life and technology being critically deliberated, there is instead a stagnancy of dialogue, apolitical discourses, discipline, and curriculu m mandates that refuse to speak to the broader pu b lic issues and bioethical dilemmas of a troubled landscape. The result is a false sense of sec urity for those that view Common Core State Standards Initiative as something other than a model of education wh ich "transforms students into receiving objects" and "attempts to control thinking

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21 and action, leads men and women to adjust to the world, and inhibits their creative power" (Freire, 1970, p. 77). In the past decade, critical media literacy has entered in to the dialogue of the U.S. educ ation system as the Common Core Standards Initiative and its 21st Century Learning component that aims to prepare students for the demands of the modern workplace. According to the Par tnership for 21st Century Skills, 21st c entury interdisciplinary themes are to be woven into core subjects to promote an understanding of academic content at much higher levels (Framework for 21st Century Learning, 2011). Following suit, the American Association of School Librarians adapted thei r Standards for Initial Preparation of School Librarians (2010) to include 21st Cent ury Learning Skills. Along with other educational subject areas, school libraries are viewed as e ssential to the development of these types of learning skills presumably be cause they provide a ccess to the resources and tools required for learning the skills deemed essential in the 21st cent ury. The pedagogical assumptions that underpin the 21st Century Learning Skills are based on the belief that critical thinking, reasoning development of information literacy, application of co llaboration skills, self direction, and invention evolve out of the foundation of oral language (Framework for 21st Century Learning, 2011). When it comes to implementing this initiative, the bu rden falls on teachers who have been given a tall order to fill but little direction to guide them. For Colorado educators, it is up to each "local education provider" to design and adopt curricula that is aligned with the 21st Cent ury Learning Skills them es. The Colorado Department of Education provides detailed intended learning outcomes for educators and administrators, but do not indicate how to achieve these outcomes. What "mastery of grade level content looks like," according to the Colorado Depar tmen t of Education, is evidenced in the "mastery of grade level expectations," but what those are

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22 exactly is not clear. To rectify this, the Colorado Department of Education is planning to "di sseminate exemplars of student mastery to further support clarity of grade level mastery" (Fr equently Asked Questions About Standards Implementation, 2010). The difficulty of implementing 21st Century Learning Skills within the existing curric ulum as a standard lies in not only the lack of a clear definition, but also in how it can be taught and assessed. Many articles written for use by adult educators are concerned with increasing the understanding of the Common Core Standards and focus on the importance of concepts like cri tical thought and student voice, but do not provide teachers with approaches to implement the themes in their core subjects (Education Week, 2010). Without an inquiry into pedagogical a pproaches to implementation, educators will continue to find teaching and assessing these co ncepts a confusing, if not altogether impossible, task. Given the problematic nature of the present state of the U.S. education system, widespread media education awareness and praxis in the classroom is a complicated dilemma. Although most states now have some form of written c urriculum standards that include media literacy principles, the U.S. still fails to meet the international standard in media education (Hobbs, 2005; Kubey, 2001; Masterman, 2001; Tyner, 1998). Tyner (1998) argued that the changes that need to be made to in clude critical media literacy education in the current curric ulum are challenging because of the decentralized nature of the American education system and the fact that many policy decisions are made district, school or teacher level. Media literacy is not a new concept and it has been successfully implemented in Australia, Canada, Sweden, and the U.K. for many years. Ironically, the United States finds itself in the position of being the world's leading exporter of media products while lagging behind every other major English speaking country in its formal delivery of media education (Kubey, 1998). Nonetheless, some

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23 public efforts have been made in this regard and there is a lot of research being conducted that focuses on curriculum and pedagogy, even thoug h critical media literacy has not made its way into American classrooms in any significantly measurable way. Advocates continue to push cri tical media literacy into the forefront by publishing research, creating curriculum guides, and leading and attending media education workshops. Resources, such as the Center for Media Li teracy's Media Lit Kit, outline the core ideas of critical media literacy, including foundational concepts and implementation models to successfully structure teaching activities, as wel l as full lesson plans to help teachers get started (Share et al., 2015). One area of media education that is gaining traction in the U.S. is in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects. The focus of media pedagogy in this a rea is driven by the belief that the U.S. education system has fallen behind other countries with r egard to its students performances in STEM related tests, college performance, and careers. One major source for these comparisons is the Trends in Internat ional Math and Science Study, which is an international test administered every four years to fourth and eighth graders (Gonzales, 2009). This study proves that the claim that U.S. students are falling considerably behind in math and science subject areas is misleading. In 2007, U.S. fourth grade students scored fifth in sc ience and ninth in math, while eighth grade students scored tenth in science and sixth in math (p. iii). American students currently score in the top 12 25% of countries in most grade le vels and subjects (p. iii). Programs focused on increasing STEM scores and encouraging students to major in STEM subjects at college often target girls and at risk youth, based on the belief that STEM skills and knowledge have an emancipatory function by i mproving the student's ability to envi sage the possibility of earning a college degree that will ultimately give them an edge in the STEM job market. The National Center for Women in Technology reports that, to date, girls are

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24 avid users of digital media a nd have made considerable advances in activities such as gaming (Ashcraft et al., 2012; Kafai et al., 2008; Pew Research Center, 2012). Yet, girls remain signif icantly underrepresented when it comes to the creation of media and new technologies, like the p rogramming and designing of games. For example, girls comprise only 19% of all computer science advanced placement test takers, and young women earn only 18% of all computer and information science bachelor's degrees (College Board, 2012; National Center f or Education St atistics, 2011). These numbers are even lower for girls and women of color (Margolis et al., 2008). Many factors contribute to creating the gap in the U.S. education system where critical pedagogy and critical media literacy education shoul d exist, and some blame the negligence and irresponsibility that has arisen from No Excuses' and other quick fix urban education reform efforts, opportunity gaps, and a neoliberal agenda that has left a generation of young people vu lnerable to a social as sault by a media arsenal (Giroux, 2010). Buckingham (2013) puts it bluntly: "technology will liberate us or it will enslave us; either it will expand our potential or it will r educe us; either it will revitalize our social and cultural life or it will take us all to hell" (p. 91). The purpose of this study was to uncover themes and capture the participants' perspe ctives as they related to the two overarching research questions that framed the investigation: First, do the participant portraits reveal gains in critical media literacy development and sociop olitical development? Second, at the end of the course, did the participants perceive the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)?

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25 CHAPTER III METHOD The qualitative study design was phenomenological in approach and allowed me to ca pture the participant 's perspectives and also allowed for flexibility needed to adapt the research design depending upon what was discovered during the study (Patton, 1990). Acco rding to Me rriam (2009) "Qualitative researchers are interested in understanding how people interpret their experiences, how they construct their worlds, and what meaning they attribute to their experien ces". According to Strauss and Corbin (1990) qualitat ive methods are appropriate in situations where one needs to first identify the variables that might later be tested quantitatively, or where the researcher has determined that quantitative measures cannot adequately describe. Portraiture Lawrence Lightfo ot and Davis (1997) describe portraiture as a research method designed to push the boundaries of research by recognizing the value of the artistic process and the inhe rent artistry of science (p. 22). Portraiture aims to create an aesthetically complete in terpretation of people, lives, or institutions. To accomplish this, a portrait is created within its cultural context and takes shape through engaging in an authentic dialogue between the researcher (portraitist) and the subject. Each navigates their own i nterpretation of the subject and the resulting piece of artistic representation "is rich with meaning and resonance and becomes an arena for navigating the empirical, aesthetic, and ethical dimensions of authentic and compelling narrative" (p. xv). The goa l of portraiture is to make the aesthetic, or intended meaning, of a portrait as clear and as coherent as possible through the careful representation of the context, voices, and relationships within the experience being studied, along with the emergent the mes (p. 29).

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26 Investigating a phenomenon centered on human interaction and communication requires an understanding of the contextual factors that make up an individual s experience, including that of the researcher (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997). Por traiture places the voice of the researcher in plain view for the reader in order to make the researcher s contextual interpret ations evident. Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) describe the importance of making the r esearcher s "voice of preoccupation" e xplicit for the reader as follows: It is important that she record her framework, identifying the intellectual, ideological, and autobiographical themes that will shape her view. The more conscious and explicit she can make this "voice of preoccupation" th e more open she will be to what she encounters in the field. We see here a central paradox of this phase of the portraitist's work: the a rticulation of early presumptions does not inhibit or distort her clear vision; rather it is likely to make her lens mo re lucid, less encumbered by the shadows of bias. Making the anticipatory schema explicit allows for greater openness of mind (p. 45). This section provides an overview of the portraiture research method used to guide the study design and data collectio n. Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) envisioned the method of portraiture as a means of pushing the boundaries of research to improve it in a way that places value on the artistic process and the potential artistry of science (p. 22). Uniquely suited to ca pture human perspective and experience, Portraiture honors the authority, wisdom, and knowledge of the individual. Through careful attention to, documentation and interpretation of voice, co ntext, relationships, and emergent themes throughout the researc h process, Portraiture aims to cr eate an aesthetically whole interpretation of people, lives, or institutions. To accomplish this, a portrait is created within cultural context and takes shape through authentic narrative between the researcher (portraitist ) and the subject navigating their own interpretation of the subject into a resulting piece of artistic representation that ; is rich with meaning and resonance and becomes an arena for navigating the empirical, aesthetic, and ethical dimensions of authent ic and compelling narrative (p. xv). The ae s

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27 thetic aspects of production include the keen use of descriptors that delineate, like line; dissonant refrains that provide nuance, like shadow; and complex details that evoke the impact of color and the intri cacy of texture. The forms that are delineated convene i nto emergent themes and the interrelationship of these themes is woven through the co nnections of their content against the backdrop of their shared context (p. 29). Like a piece of traditional art, readers and viewers are eagerly invited to interpret the portrait however, it is up to the artist or researcher to make the aesthetic, or meaning, clear (Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis, p. ). To do this, Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) outline five aspe cts for researchers to consider in the creation of a portrait. Context, voice, relationship, emergent themes, and the aesthetic whole are aspects of portraiture that Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) recommend should frame all stages of the inquiry proce ss; context, voice, relationships, and emergent themes. Context Conveying the context of a study makes it possible for readers to appreciate potentially unforeseen factors that may influence their interpretation of the matter at had. Contextual factors c an range from broad stroke descriptions of historical or environmental events to more narrow descriptors of personal, internal factors. It is up to the portraitist to choose the elements that r eceive focus or those that should remain in the background. Law rence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) recommend that in order to capture the broad and narrow strokes of a narrative that one should start with a broad description that gradually narrows its focus nuance. For example, conveying the context of a situation might begin with observation of the subject and narrow focus in such a way that it reveals the researcher s personal bias or motives.

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28 Voice Voice refers to giving value and equal attention to both the individual and collective voices of all involved in the research process. In Portraiture, the researchers voice is collected and interpreted throughout and within the process along with the subjects' voices as they co ntribute to the analysis. While researcher's voice is always present, it is also always contro lled, disclosing bias and motivations about the study so as not to overshadow other voices as the pa rticipants point of view is at the center of the portrait. Relationships The relationship between the researcher and the participant is made up of dialog ue and interactions with degrees of intimacy that shift and change over time. With this in mind, La wrence Lightfoot suggests that the researcher should remain attentive to this change and remain aware of how contextual factors may or may not impact the qua lity and dynamics of the relatio nship between the researcher and the subject. Flexibility through conversations and dialogue is encouraged along with an openness that allows participants to authentically share their thoughts. Emergent Themes Attending to emergent themes is a vital aspect of portraiture. From the moment the study begins to take shape (in the researchers mind), the portraitist engages in an iterative process of researching in the field and analyzing the data. As she analyzes the data, she i s interpreting and identifying or disregarding themes and preparing for the next visit. Themes emerge as the r esearcher engages in analytical questioning about the phenomena under consideration. When thinking about emergent themes, the portraitist must see k to identify common themes but resist the temptation to distill the flavor of the participants individual and unique perspectives. As with the aspect of relationships discussed earlier, watching for emergent themes occurs at every

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29 phase of the project. B efore and after an interaction with a participant, the portraitist may gather preliminary ideas from documents or artifacts about the subject matter. During the visits the po rtraitist listens for, what Lawrence Lightfoot calls repetitive refrains or formul ations that recur either implicitly or explicitly in the environment, language used in conversation, and interactions among and with participants. Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) suggest that the researcher maintain and periodically refer back to a not ebook or impressionistic record. The researcher should carefully document sources that are lending credence to particular emergent themes. Member checking or sharing and confirming the themes that emerged throughout the study with the participants is also a way to authenticate the interpretations that have developed. The Aesthetic Whole Finally, the researcher shifts attention to the development of the aesthetic whole. As me ntioned earlier, aesthetics refers to work done to bring together the parts of the whole in order to construct the portrait. Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) eloquently state dual purposes of portraiture: to inform and inspire, to document and transform, to speak to the head and to the heart" (p. 243). However, to accomplish this, the portraitist searches for patterns that help paint a picture of the life, events, or interactions that occurred. Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) suggest that the portrait ist first attend to locating the overarching story, narrative, or gestalt that gives order and meaning to the data collected. Then the portraitist should consider how the data will provide structure to the constructed text. For example, there may be common threads that run through the stories of all the participants. The next consideration is to the form of the text, as this is the element that brings the stories to life; it is the texture of the details that are incorp orated into the document. Finally, the portraitist strives for coherence in all aspects of the portrait.

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30 Is there an overarching theme located logically from the themes that emerged in various data sources? Are there sufficient details to provide texture and to paint the picture so that it is coherent and genuine? The participant portraits that developed throughout the study were based on the follo wing: (a) participants understanding of media literacy at the start of the course and general unde rstanding of the nature of media and media litera cy, (b) how their their understanding and pe rspective of media and media literacy changed or did not change (c) their perceptions of the online discussion boards as well as synchronous and asynchronous conversations that occurred throughout the semester, a nd (d) their intentions for using (or not using) what they have learned in the course and (e) how they perceive their change in perspective impacting their teaching in the future. The following section describes the procedures utilized to collect data for this study. Research Procedures Setting This study took place in conjunction with an online course that was a required graduate seminar offered by a university in the western region of the United States that spanned one eight week period in the summer of 2015. The course was also cross listed as an undergraduate course that satisfied a requirement of a three course certificate for those seeking a school library e ndorsement. There were a combination of thirty undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the course. Students accessed the course platform via Canvas, a web based course content deli very application. All assignments were submitted digitally and threaded conversations were asy nchronous. Once a week there were synchronous web conferences. For the context of this evaluation it was important for the researcher to get into the env ironment to capture the individual experiences of the students and instructors. To the qualitative

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31 researcher, e observation provides researchers with the means to watch and listen to what parti cipants do and say in the field (Liang, 2005). For some researchers, computer mediated commun ication is not an appropriate method for research, which seeks to observe the "real" world (Mann & Stewart, 2000). Recent studies, which fo cus on virtual communities, begin to challenge the basis of terms such as "observation" and "natural context" as used in traditional research (Mann & Stewart, 2000, pg. 84). Bianco and Carr Chellman (2000) cautioned that online observation is perhaps one o f the most difficult things to conduct in online learning environment inquiry, b ecause we cannot even define if electronic space is the actual classroom. Observations of online environments requires the researcher to accept the online environment as a legi timate "field" from which to gather data. There are limitations, however, that cannot be ignored. It is important to note that the loss of physical interaction will likely reduce the richness of social behaviors b etween participants and important behaviora l and emotional cues, such as a person's tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions, are absent (Mann & Stewart, 2000). To solve this dilemma, Liang (2005) suggests that the best approach is to use e observation as a compleme ntary method to othe r method, such as interview, and documentation analysis it should be noted that this study combined both e observation, document analysis, and interviews. Participants According to Onwuegbuzie and Leech (2005) choosing a sample size should be based on "an active process of reflection that is based on many factors, including the context, method of collecting data, and type of generalization (if any) needed" (p. xx). For example, sample size recommendations for phenomenological studies range from 6 to 10 (Morse, 1994; Creswell, 1998).In this study for participants were sampled.

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32 The participants in the study were all students enrolled in graduate course offered at a large university in the west. All of the participants were currently educators working in k inde rgarten through grade twelve in a classroom or a school library setting. The participants ranged in age between twenty and sixty years of age and consisted of three women and one mane male. All of the participants were white. The analysis of four parti cipants was determined to be adequate in that it was not too small that it would be "too difficult to achieve data saturation, theoretical sat uration, or informational redundancy" nor too large that it would be too "difficult to undertake a deep, case orie nted analysis" (Sandelowski, 1995). The results section will go into greater detail about the participants. Two weeks before the course started all of the students in the course were sent an email welcoming them to the course and providing an introductio n to the study that was taking place and being conducted by myself, the instructor and the principal investigator. The main purpose of the email was to make clear that goals of the study (to learn more about teacher s experiences in a media literacy course ) and to also make it clear that participation in the study was voluntary, without obligation, and that there was freedom to withdraw from the study at any time. This email was followed up with another email sent one week before the course started. The ema il asked that those that were willing to participate in the study to indicate their consent via a pr ivately accessed online web application REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture), a secure designed exclusively to support data capture for research studie s. The online questionnaire served three purposes. First, the study was described in in detail and informed them of the pote ntial risks and benefits including the potential for psychological and emotional risk to the partic ipant as the learning process of self reflection and the examination of values and beliefs may cause emotional discomfort, distress or be disconcerting to participants. It described how course

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33 content would be used as data in the study and that once the course has ended and grades have be en submitted, those that agreed to participate would participate in one individual interview that will be conducted privately and at the participant s convenience, either in person, over the phone, or via the web. Second, the questionnaire was designed to obtain formal consent by as king the participants to select a button that stated "I agree to participate in this study". Finally, s electing the "I agree" button brought the participants to the pre course questionnaire (Appendix A) about media and topics rel ated to media literacy and teaching, the answers to which were also stored on the REDCap server. I tried to protect the identity of the participants by not provi ding full descriptions of settings and by using pseudonyms. Data Collection The data consiste d of online observation of participant discussions, transcribed course assignment and discussion content, questionnaires, reflective field notes, and individual inte rviews. In "Reflections on Portraiture: A Dialogue between Art and Science" (2005), Lawrenc e Lightfoot explains coherent story that grows organically from the data and the observations of the researcher/portraitist. The participant portraits that developed throughout the study were based on data gathered through personal interviews, the transcri ption of group discussions with classmates, by observation, and a review of course assignments, documents, and video narr atives. Throughout the course I journaled and kept reflective field notes to capture my experiences as the instructor and to document h ow I saw the students responding to the course. I used this journal to keep track of my thoughts, what I had witnessed, reflect upon possible emerging themes, describe changes in my perspective, aspects of the course that needed attention or new plans of a ction to move forward.

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34 Semi structured interviews were chosen to allow respondents to identify and articulate their priorities and concerns. This methodology is well rooted in the study of education and takes into consideration the depth of context that c aptures human life. Interviews are described by Clandinin and Connelly (1990) as a means of capturing the experiences of human beings as they live in time, space, in person and in relationship. The one on one interviews can also be class ified as a "non int erview" or an opportunity to engage participants through purposeful convers ation (Lancy, 1993). In this study, the participants were asked broad, open ended questions in a dialogue that resembles a discussion. The questions followed a "funnel format" sta rting with more open ended questions that became narrower as the interview continues (Frey et al., 2000). Once the course had ended and the grades had been submitted, those that consented to participate in the study were identified, and individual intervie ws were conducted. I reached out to each pa rticipant via email to schedule the individual interviews conducted privately and at the partic ipant s convenience, either in person, over the phone, or via the web. The interviews all ended up being conducted via video web chat per the participant's choice and were video and audio re corded and then transcribed. The interview questions are included in Appendix C. The interviews took approximately 30 45 minutes. Ultimately, four key elements of the course content em erged as the most helpful in capturing the participants experiences. The video introduction assignment, the guided discussion in the threaded discussions, the five media deconstruction exercises, and the final interviews became the focal points of the ana lysis and revealed narratives that indicated of changing perspectives about media and the developmental journeys of the participants. Data Analysis Analysis in the case of portraiture "seeks to record and interpret the perspectives and experiences of the p eople they [researchers] are studying, documenting their voices and their

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35 visions their authority, knowledge, and wisdom" (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. xv). Lawrence Lightfoot's suggestions to make the search for "convergent threads, illuminating me taphors, and overarching symbols" follow a "disciplined, empirical process of description, i nterpretation, analysis, and synthesis and an aesthetic process of narrative development" that involves sifting through "interview transcripts, observational narr atives, field notes, documents, and journals in search of patterns that will order and scaffold the narratives" (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. 31). Attending to emergent themes was a vital aspect of the portraiture process and began from the moment the study started to take shape. Themes emerged as I gathered data and liste ning for what Lawrence Lightfoot calls repetitive refrains, or formulations that recur either i mpli c itly or explicitly in the environment, language used in conversation, and inter actions among and with participants, carefully documenting sources that lend credence to emergent themes (Lawrence Lightfoot, 1997, p. 30). Lightfoot and Davis (1997) suggest that the portraitist first attend to locating the overarching story, narrative, o r gestalt that gives order and meaning to the data collected. When the final interviews were completed, I read through all data to get a co mprehensive idea of what had been collected over the eight week time frame. The next step requ ired that I consider ho w the data could provide structure to the constructed text. For example, I was looking for common threads that ran through the stories of all the participants. To acco mplish this step I started with one participant and read through each individual piece of data for that one participant. I also began to code passages with codes ranged in length from one sentence to a paragraph. The codes that emerged inductively consistently reflected the participant's app arent depth of critical thought. For example, I coded the following passage as "No critique," because it appeared that the participant's answer was a simple response that, while an interesting

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36 anecdote, did not show any particular depth of thought or insight into the implications of the message. One of the messages in that film that really stood out to me is that at about age 8, an equal number of boys and girls will say that they want to be the president when they grow up, and by the time they hit puberty, there are far less girls than boys who still h ave that ambition. Other passages had more complicated codes. For example, the following passage was coded as "Pseudo critical". As for other people, I believe most people I know also fall in the 3 category... I think that as we are younger, we have a more difficult time recognizing what is legitimate or not, and again as we get older, we tend to be less open or flexible with our thinking, so it can be easier for us to accept or dismiss things based upon our own bias." Passages with the "Pseudo crit ical" code demonstrated an appearance of self critique and an acknowledgement of personal bias towards media choices and attempts to demonstrate multiple perspectives or tries to address dimensions of diversity in analysis of the media. However, there was also evidence of underlying assumptions and stereotypes about groups. These passages had a feeling that this is just the way things are' mentality and self centered lens that appears to be superficially poised as outside their experience. The next passage was coded as "Questioning" because the participant was beginning to use a wider lens but it was still limited in scope. "This message is being sent because healthy choice wants to be a relevant brand for young people who are responsible for buying their own food. They want to appeal to people who don't want to spend a lot of time cooking, but do want something that is "heal thy" to eat. Positive messages: eat healthy, don't spend a lot of money to eat healthy. Negative messages: people will age out of their value, so find ways to cling to it... if this is someone you know that is embarrassing for them... you shouldn't speak so directly with people, being honest is awkward... Why are there only white people eating vegetables?"

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37 Lightfoot and Davis (1997) stress the importance of striving for coherence in all aspects of the portrait and ask whether there is an overarching theme located logically from the themes that emerged in various data sources and it was during this process that the emerging themes ove rlapped considerably with Watts Five Stage Theory of Sociopolitical Development (Watts, Gri ffith, & Abdul Adil, 1999). As I continued to work read and look through each of the partic ipant's data sets it became clear that the Sociopolitical Development framework would be a hel pful way to find the "form of the text that would bring the story to life brings the stories to life" an d bring the "texture of the details that are incorporated into the document" (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997, p. 32). Lawrence Lightfoot (1997) states that overarching themes should be located logically from among the themes that emerged in various data sources and that there be sufficient detail to provide to create a coherent and genuine portrait. Though portraiture does not generally use an outside framework, because the connection to this framework appeared inductively and was not imposed, I deemed th is to be appropriate for this analysis and decided to use the Sociopolitical Development framework to help make sense and give structure to the fi ndings. It is the researchers opinion that the decision to use sociopolitical development as a frame work aide d in providing an "aesthetic whole" to the portraits. Table 2 connects media literacy constructs (explained further in Table 5) with Watt's sociopolitical development framework and provides an example of the guiding framework that was used to code and iden tify sociopolitical development via participant responses to the Five Key Questions of Media Literacy.

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38 Table 2 Identifying Sociopolitical Development via Participant Responses to Media Literacy Key Que s tions Stage of Sociopolitical Development Key Questions Acritical Adaptive Pre critical Critical Liberation Who created the message? What creative techniques are used to attract my attention? How might different pe ople understand this message differently from me? What lif estyles, values and points of view are repr esented in, or omitted from, this message? Why is this message being sent? Answer is uncritical. There is no critique. A nswers are surface level and do not connect with the concept behind the question. Pseudo critical r esponse. A ppe arance of self critique & awareness of bias t owards media choices. A ttempt to show mult iple views or address d iversity in analysis but assumptions and stere otypes about groups are evident. Problem is outside of one's co ntrol. Perspe ctive is self centered. Begins to question and voice an awar eness of the cons equences of media me ssaging. Demo nstrates co ncern about unjust rea lities but does not see the problem as solvable or pose sol utions to the problem. Answers and responses are personal and demonstrate an ability to see examples of media infl uence in daily life. Speaks of personal exp eriences related to media me ssaging and identifies with negative co nsequences. Sees media messa ging as a powe rful force with significant co nsequences for a person's life. Expre sses a desire to solve the problem or offers sol utions. Demonstrates action to cou nteract the o ppressive power of media me ssaging. Poses solutions and puts them into action. Gets i nvolved in media literacy advoc acy at personal, organizational, community, o r national level. Involvement in social action and community development is tangible and frequent. Ada ptive behaviors are eschewed.

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39 The process of creating the portraits followed Lawrence Lightfoot 's (1997) advice that careful attention and regard be paid to : a) the contextual significance of individual human exp erience; b) honoring the participant's voice and providing a platform for the researcher's voice to be heard throughout the study; c) giving value to all relationships as they evolved throughou t the study, including the relationship between the study participants and the researcher; d) mainta ining an iterative investigation that works to uncover emergent themes while recognizing the pr esence of preconceived notions, biases, or foregrounding beli efs that may impact the study and making those transparent for the reader; and e) creating a complete, aesthetically whole portrait of each subject and their experience (See Table 3).

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40 Table 3 Portraiture: Framework and Aspects of the Inquiry Process Context Contextual factors can range from broad stroke descriptions of historical or environmental events to more narrow descriptions of personal, internal fa ctors. It is up to the portraitist to choose the elements that receive focus or those tha t should remain in the background. Voice The participant's point of view is at the center of the portrait; however, value and equal attention are given to both the individual and collective voices of all involved in the research process. The researcher's voice is always co ntrolled, disclosing any biases and motivations behind the study. Relationships Flexibility through conversations and dialogue is encouraged along with an openness that allows participants to authentically share their thoughts. The relationship between the researcher and the participant is based on dialogue and interactions with degrees of intimacy that shift and change over time. There must be an awareness of how contextual factors may or may not i mpact the quality and dynamics of t he relationship between the researcher and the subject. Emergent Themes Searching for emergent themes through five modes of synthesis, conve rgence, and contrast (see Table 4). Aesthetic Whole A complete, aesthetically whole portrait of each subject and their experience. Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) state the dual purpose of portraiture as the follo wing: "to inform and inspire, to document and transform, to speak to the head and to th e heart" (p. 243). The portraitist draws out and constructs emergent themes using five modes of synthesis, convergence, and contrast (See Table 4). In order to accomplish this, the portraitist searches for patterns that help paint a picture of the life, e vents, or interactions that occurred.

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41 Table 4 Searching for Emergent Themes: Portraiture's Five Modes of Synthesis, Convergence & Co ntrast 1. Repetitive Refrains that are spoken (or appear) frequently and persistently, forming a colle ctive expression of commonly held views. 2. Resonant Metaphors: poetic and symbolic expressions that reveal the ways actors illuminate and experience their realities. 3. Themes: expressed through cultural and institutional rituals that seem to be important to o rganizational continuity and coherence. 4. Triangulation: to weave together the threads of data converging from a variety of sources. 5. Aesthetic Whole: construct themes and reveal patterns among perspectives that are often e xperienced as contrasting and dissonant by the actors. I continued through the portraiture process using all of the aforementioned guidelines and with the intention of keeping true to the spirit of portraiture laid forth by Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997). Each participant's data was analyzed and coded individually before the portraits were written. I wanted to keep each individual's experience as separate as possible before bri nging them together into a coherent portrait of the entire experience. I began by writ ing my pers onal portrait and the portrait of the course using my field notes and personal observations to give voice to my own perceptions of the experience and to give the reader a better idea of how the course was structured. I then wrote the participant 's portraits, revisiting each portrait many times to maintain an eye on new or emerging threads.

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42 Credibility & Trustworthiness According to Lincoln and Guba (1985), internal and external validity issues related to the qualitative data gathered are base d on the extent to which the research is determined to be trus tworthy and "worth paying attention to" (p. 300). Credibility refers to whether or not the reco nstructions of the inquirer are "credible to the constructors of the original multiple realities" ( p. 296). The trustworthiness of the data is rooted in the credibility of voices and personal histories. In addition, close attention will be paid to the quality of inferences made during the research pr ocess by maintaining transparency in the explanations of all stages of the research. Lawrence Lightfoot and Davis (1997) cite Maxwell when discussing credibility and validity in a portraiture study: Maxwell (1996) refers to this standard of credibility, this effort to construct a trustworthy narrative, as "validity." Objectivity is not the standard for validity as it is in quantitative research. Maxwell speaks of it holistically as "the correctness or credibility of a description, conclusion, explanation, interpretation, or other sort of ac cou nt. Nor are you required to attain some ultimate truth in order for your study to be useful and believable." (p. 245) To address issues of credibility and validity I attempted to triangulate my findings through mu ltiple forms of data. Also, all of the participants were sent transcripts of their final interviews and once the information had been coded and portraits had been written, three of the participants r eceived follow up phone calls to clarify statements on their intended meaning. This was n ot a fu lly participatory examination of my findings but rather a clarification of questions and answers. None of the participants requested any changes. Finally, the coded frameworks were discussed with an outside observer familiar with the study, to allow for more categorical accuracy.

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43 The outside observer did not read and confirm all of the participant codes but discussed a sample of narratives and compared findings with the researcher based on their own judgement of a statement. I chose to use portrai ture as a method because of its high regard for context and for the fact that it gives equal bearing to all of the voices and relationships involved in the human exp erience (Lawrence Lightfoot & Davis, 1997). Critics of portraiture argue that "ascertaining the truth telling capacity of the portraitist" is impossible "because the definition of truth is circ ular" (English, 2000, p. 21). However, Creswell argues that the circular relationship between truth and truth telling is what makes qualitative research p erhaps more capable of capturing the n uance of human experience as "research cannot exist independently from context because it i mpacts all interpretation of meaning (Creswell, 2013). I believe that p ortraiture is uniquely well suited to capture human per spective and experience because it honors the authority, wisdom, and knowledge of individuals.

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44 CHAPTER IV ANALYSIS The portraits that follow are intended to provide the reader with an aesthetically complete interpretation of the course experience for the participants and the researcher through narrative development that carefully attends to context, voices, relationships, and themes that emerged throughout the analysis. First, I will present a portrait of the researcher, followed by a portrait of the c ourse, followed by portraits of the four course participants. Each portrait is an interpretation and an artistic representation (Lawrence Lightfoot, 1997). The contextual significance of the i ndividual human experience, the participants and the researcher 's voices, all relationships within the environment, and maintaining an iterative stance that eagerly seeks to reveal preconceived notions were given careful consideration. Portrait I: Researcher The narrative that follows is provided to illustrate the in tellectual and ideological motiv ations behind this research project. Describing them for the reader will provide insight into how certain events in the past inspired my research to this point. As I was completing my master 's degree in communication, I le arned about the concept of critical media literacy in a course called Education Perspectives on Media Literacy. My exp erience in that course represents a pivotal moment in my life as it significantly shifted my worldview. In retrospect, that moment was uns ettling. I am now able to recognize that, as new mother, I was dealing with how to fulfill the role of fierce protector. Re examining my life goals and challenging my previously held notions of femininity and success made it clear that I held biases that w ere largely based on a fear of the unknown. The course lifted a veil that revealed the media as a more powerful force in my life than I had realized, and I began to understand more

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45 clearly how perceptions of myself and the world around me were being shaped by messages that I received from the media. Every standard against which I measured myself, such as my perce ptions of what it meant to be happy, successful, and human, were constructed for another's profit and not my own. This realization upset my sense o f self. In this way, my experience in that course transformed my thoughts and behaviors and I began to be able to look at the world through a more critical lens. That experience was emancipatory. It provided me with the means to become a more active partic ipant in my life and gave me the skills to exert greater control over my life as well, despite the apparent threat of media messaging and other assaults. As a parent raising two young girls, my research is also motivated by a sense of urgency. A journal en try from several years ago describes a typical day in my home: Just home from my morning commute, I open the door entering my kitchen from the ga rage. I unload my tangled mess of bags, laptop, and purse onto the floor and survey the situation. My fifteen year old babysitter is planted on my couch in front of the enormous television that is currently tuned to the Disney Channel. I assume she is doing her hom ework on the laptop that is balanced on one knee. In the hand that is not being used to su pport the l aptop, she appears to be texting in an impressive one handed technique. Without looking up, she cheerily greets me with a "Hey!" I say hello back to her but she doesn't hear me because of the ear buds she is wearing. My five year old daughter jumps up from behind the coffee table where she was lying down watching the television. She immed iately dives for my iPhone, that I had yet to put down (it has a special place), because she wanted to play a game on it or something. "Well, hello to you, too!" I replied sarcastica lly. My eight year old daughter hears this and slides off of her perch on the back of the s ofa, walks backwards towards me, without taking her eyes off of the television, and wit hout a word gives me a half hearted side hug before reassuming her p revious position on the back of the sofa. Moments like the one just described were not unusual, and I suspected that my exper ience was not uncommon, but I was alarmed. Although the four of us were typically in the same room together, we were choosing to disconnect from each other and to replace each other 's co mpany with media and technology. The dominant and pervasive presence of the media in my home meant that a constant stream of advertised messages were being fed to my impressionable and

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46 vulnerable chi ldren. I feared that these experiences were chipping away at their fragile senses of autonomy and uniqueness as their young minds were being shaped by constructed perspectives regarding race, gender, culture, and society through family friendly programming I could sense our family's media appetite growing due to the constant pressure to be connected through means that were continually being presented to me as more convenient and efficient. I worried about the naturalization of violence and trauma my childr en were witnessing but I did not have the ability to articulate why I felt this way, or even give a name to the problem. I feared that I had not taught them enough about how the media works or given them adequate critical thinking skills that I knew they n eeded to shield their developing authentic voices from the pervasiveness of fabricated realities and ideologies. As my daughters grow up, I find that the media 's omnipresence continues to pose cha llenges to me in my daily life. Raising two teenage girls is presenting me with new and confoun ding parenting decisions that have to be made regarding social media, technology, and the role it will play in our family. It is getting hard to draw a clear boundary between acceptable amounts of screen time when schoo l time, homework time, downtime, and family time often involve some form of technology. Adolescents socialize through media in ways that seem to change by the minute and even after spending an extensive amount of time researching the topic, I am fin ding it difficult to keep up and feel confident that I am protecting my girls from all of the dangers that media messaging and connectivity can expose them to. My research and interest in the topic of media literacy has changed over the years, but has always been guided by a desire to advocate for critical media literacy as an essential critical thinking skill to protect young developing minds from the alternate reality presented by the media. My assumptions are deeply embedded in my beliefs about the importance a nd power of critical media literacy. I believe that media messages

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47 are always conveying subjective messages. I have continued to seek out ways to make an impact and this ultimately led to my decision to pursue a doctorate in education. I realized that the one place that critical media literacy can be the most emancipatory and transformative is in the ed ucation system. An embedded critical media literacy curriculum is the ideal way to teach young people that the media is a powerful presence in their lives an d deserves special attention and careful analysis. By working with teachers, my ultimate goal is to create experiences that they can then bring to the students in their classrooms. Portrait II: The Course The course design focused on helping educators identify opportunities and challenges for young people living in a digital media culture and a macro sociological environment in which mass communication systems operate The outcomes for the course include: (1) being more aware of the significant role of mass media, popular culture, and digital media; (2) analyzing and critiquing media literacy research and linking research with practical skills to create curricular items to integrate the teaching of critical media literacy education into classrooms; (3) f ostering careful analysis and evaluation of media and understanding the complex interactions that take place between the reader/viewer and media texts, and the power of the media to transmit culture; (4) understanding the origins and evolution of critical media literacy education both in the U.S. and internationally; and (5) engaging in an informed discussion on issues relating to critical m edia literacy education. The goal of the course focused on ensuring that participants could analyze and critique criti cal media literacy research and also link research to developing practical skills to help them create curricular items to integrate the teaching of critical media literacy education into their classrooms. I wanted course participants to understand and lear n instructional strategies to connect digital and critical media literacy to their learning in all topic areas. I hoped to i n

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48 crease their confidence in using a variety of media and digital technology tools and online sha ring tools with their students in wa ys that connect to the existing curriculum. Finally, I hoped that the course participants would develop, implement, and assess a project that activates children's digital and critical media literacy competencies. Each week, course participants were expect ed to participate in the threaded discussion regarding that week 's reading and assignments. Course participants were expected to demo nstrate depth of thought, make connections to other readings and assignments, and utilize critical analysis in their contri butions. Their responses were expected to reflect real world experiences as much as possible, and be relevant to the topic and context of that session. Because of the rel ativ e ly large number of course participants in the class, I divided them into two equa lly sized di scussion groups of 15 16 people. The idea behind this was to make the discussions manageable and to give all course participants more opportunities to engage with the course materials. The groups were generated by Canvas, but course participant s were allowed to change groups if they so desired. The discussion threads were also organized so that course participants watched a vi deo introduction of the concepts for the week. This included PowerPoint presentations and videos chosen to address conten t in the discussion threads. For example, during the first week, course participants previewed the trailer for the movie Killing Us Softly (Kilbourne, 2001), a film that examines media through a gender lens by specifically examining how media impacts young girls. During the second week, course participants completed two readings: "Critical Media Literacy is not an Option" (Kellner & Share, 2007) and "Literacy for the 21st Century: The CML Media Lit Kit" (Share, Jolls, Thoman, & Center for Media Literacy, 2 010). The course partic ipants watched Generation Like (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2014), which addresses the impact of an adolescent's search for identity within an online environment. Week three focused

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49 on the documentary Merchants of Cool: A Report on the Creators and Marketers of Popular Culture for Teenagers (WGBH Educational Foundation, 2001). I gave participants guiding que stions and asked them to think about how they might address their students after showing them this film and how they could rephr ase the questions I gave them in order to suit different age groups. I required the course participants to submit a summary of their discussion points and a self reflection describing the value of their participation based on the assignment 's prompts. The goal of this summary was for the course participants to reflect on and evaluate their engagement with the topic and how they accomplished engaging with both the topic and their peers in a pr oductive dialogue. In order to earn full points, course participa nts were required to read through their postings and summarize their participation in terms of the contribution guidelines provided below. Self assessments asked the course participants to consider both the quantity and quality of their contributions. Keep ing the rubric, their reflections, and their actual participation in the course discussions in mind, I ultimately assigned points according to the self assessment assig nment. I used their input as a guide but did not give course participants full points if they gave themselves a good evaluation but did not actually participate, or if their participation was inad equate. Course participants viewed media artifacts and evaluated them in terms of the "Five Key Questions of Media Literacy" (See Table 5).

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50 Table 5 Five Key Questions of Media Literacy (Center for Media Literacy, 2016) Key Question Core Concept Key Word Guiding Questions: Who created this message? All messages are constructed.' Authorship What kind of "text" is it? What are the various elements that make up the whole? How similar or different is it to others of the same genre? Which technologies are used in its creation? What creative techniques are used to attract my attention? Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules. Format What do you notice... (about the way the message is co nstructed)? Colors? Shapes? Size? Sounds? Words? S ilence? Props, Sets, Clothing? Movement? Composition? Lighting? Where is the ca mera? What are people doing? Are there any sym bols? Vis ual metaphors? What is the emotional appeal? How might di fferent people u nderstand this message di fferently from me? Different people experience the same media message differen tly. Audience Have you ever experienced anything like this in your life? How close is this portrayal to your experience? What did you learn from this media text? What did you learn from other people's responses? From their experience of life? How many other interpret ations could there be? How could we hear about them? Are other viewpoints just as valid as mine?

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51 Table 5, Continued Five Key Questions of Media Literacy (Center for Media Literacy, 2016) What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message? Media have e mbedded values and points of view. Content What kinds of beha viors/consequences are depicted? What type of pe rson is the rea der/watcher/listener invited to identify with? What questions come to mind as you watch/read/listen? What ideas or values are being "sold" to us in this message? What p olitical ideas are communica ted in the message? Why is this me ssage being sent? Most media me ssages are org anized to gain pro fit and/or power. Intent Who is in control of the cre ation and transmission of this message? Why are they sen ding it? How do you know? Who are they sending it to? How do you know? What is being sold in this message? What is being told? Who profits from this message? Who pays for it? Who is served by or benefits from the message to the public? Pr ivate inte rests? Individual i nstitutions? The media deconstruction exercises were presented in the form of a quiz but were graded in terms of how well the student applied what they had learned to deconstruct each of the media messages. In the second week, I opene d a "Gallery Space" where I asked course participants to post an interesting critical media literacy or maker space artifact. These items were open to r eflection and discussion and were meant to reveal their personal experiences with media and ma k

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52 er spaces to their classmates. For example, they could post an interesting video clip, advertis ement, article, project, program, or curriculum. Course participants were asked to create a project that they could use in their own individual educational context and to record a presentation for the class describing their project. It could be a resource for learning in an area of their choice (e.g., school, work, or informal; topic of their choice; developmental level of their choice) that would have possible application s in their present or planned work setting. For this assignment, a scoring guide using the Media Literacy in Action Project Rubric was provided and presentations were submitted to a peer review process. When I first proposed this study, I had intended for the course to be a full semester, h ybrid course meaning a 16 week semester during which I would meet with the course partic ipants in an online forum for half of the time and the other half of the time the meetings would be in person and on campus. My o riginal syllabus submission to the School of Education Curric ulum Review Committee proposed a course solely focused on the topic of critical media literacy. The committee responded with a request to resubmit my syllabus to include the topic of "maker space s" and to restructure it as an eight week, summer semester, entirely online, course with the title "Media Literacy and Maker Culture." I was to keep in mind that I would mainly be teaching graduate course participants enrolled in the master of library scie nce program and those that were taking the course as part of the teacher librarian certificate. I embraced the opportunity and quickly restructured the course to include both critical media literacy and maker spaces. I had just spent a year working in a mi ddle school library where we had built a maker space program so I was already excited about the idea and had firsthand knowledge that I could offer to the course participants. The concepts of critical media literacy include the idea of both consuming and c reating media, so to me, the two ideas fit together nicely because a person that is media li t

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53 erate is both a critical creator and consumer and can use the "Five Key Questions of Media Li teracy" (Table 4) to both consume and create media in a mindful way (S hare, Thoman, & Jolls, 2010). The problem was that I had to do all of that in eight weeks without overwhelming the course participants with information, while giving them practical and applicable skills to bring back to their classrooms. I structured the c ourse so that the first four weeks would focus on i ntroducing the concept of critical media literacy and media deconstruction and the second half of the semester would focus on introducing them to the philosophy behind maker spaces and the basics of how to build one in a classroom or library. It quickly became apparent that there was a disconnect between what the course partic ipants expected to learn (based on the course description) and what the course intended to cover. The course participants were gener ally expecting to learn how to use technology rather than cr itique media. I did not expect everyone to understand the term critical media literacy as I was u sing it, but I decided to review the registration page for the course and it was at that point that I discovered that the course description that I had submitted to the curriculum review committee was not the same description viewed by the course participants when they registered. There was a significant difference between the intended description and w hat the course participants in the course received or viewed. The course description, available in the course catalog, did not d escribe critical media literacy as a critique of the media, but rather described how to use technol ogy in the classroom. I began to wonder if the divergence would have an impact on who would sign up for the course and what they would expect to learn. I thought that perhaps people would sign up for the course because they thought it was going to address maker spaces. I could not be certain that the course participants would have signed up for this course if it had been marketed

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54 as critical media literacy. Nonetheless, because it is (and was) a required course for many of the course participants, it probably did not matter in the end. I knew that we would be discussing controversial topics, like race and gender, that are often uncomfortable for course participants. Therefore, I knew that I would have to somehow quickly develop a sense of trust and try to build relationships with the course participants so that we could dialogue in meaningful ways. I also knew that doi ng this in an online environment, u nder such time constraints, would be a challenge. Consequently, I was excited, but I was also nervous because I had never taught an entirely online course completely on my own. However, I had been a teaching assistant for a few courses and was familiar with online courses as I was r ecently a student myself. I was similarly nervous about the idea of teaching a group of people that I regarded as my peers. I worried that I would not be viewed as credible or that the course wo uld not feel useful to them. I worried that the content could not be delivered effectively in such a short semester and in an online environment in which we could not dialogue and communicate face to face. I tried to troubleshoot ways to reduce my anxiet ies by paring down the course content and researching strategies to make online courses feel intimate, immediate, and real to the course participants. I wanted to prevent course participants from doing the least amount of work nece ssary, because this was s omething that I was guilty of myself in my experiences taking online courses. To achieve this, I decided that I would not require a specific number of posts each week. At the same time, I provided a specific rubric of what I considered "good participation" to be in our course and left it up to the course participants to figure out what that meant for them. For e xample, I provided guidelines that made it clear that they were expected to stay on topic and avoid

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55 posting irrelevant links, comments, thoughts, or pictures just to satisfy a requirement. I thought I made it clear that they were expected to add something valuable to our discussions. At this point, I will take the opportunity to remind the reader that the goal of this research was to capture the sub tle nuances of the participants experiences in the course in an effort to be t ter understand if participants perceived their participation in the course as changing their pe rspectives about media, and if their experiences indicated the development of criti cal media lite racy. Upon completion of the data analysis, it was clear that three assignments provided the best insight into the perceived growth in depth of thought and the development of critical media lite racy skills, and they will be the focus of the p ortraits that follow. These included the video intr oduction assignment, the weekly questions discussed in the threaded discussions, and the five m edia deconstruction exercises. The four portraits that follow are intended to provide the reader with an aes thetically complete interpretation of four course participants through providing a narrative development that carefully attends to the context, voices, relationships, and themes that emerged throughout the analysis. Each portrait is an interpretation and a n artistic representation (Lawrence Lightfoot, 1997). Careful attention was paid to the contextual significance of individual human experience, the participant 's and the researcher's voices, all relationships within the environment, and to maintaining an i terative stance that eagerly seeks to reveal preconceived notions. The portraits are drawn from the study participants' narratives as they were revealed in their introductory vi deos, threaded discussions, final projects and exit interviews. The intention w as to paint a co mplete, coherent, and aesthetically whole portrait of each participant and their experience.

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56 Portrait III: Sarah At the beginning of the course, I noted in my observations that Sarah "seemed eager, o rganized, and on the ball.'" She was the first student to contact me about the course to address enrollment issues and to let me know that she would be traveling for a week during the semester without access to the internet. Throughout the semester, our relationship continued to be positive and she always made sure that she was doing the right thing at the right time in a way that made her stand out to me from among her peers. I learned from Sarah's introductory video that she grew up in a small town in the Mi dwest and attended a large stat e university where she earned her bachelor's degree in music ther apy. Sarah mentioned that she liked the educational setting so much that she decided to pursue her master's degree in early childhood special education at another large state university. Afte r Sarah earned her master's degree, she taught for a few years before moving west. Sarah now lives in the local metro area and has been teaching preschool for three years for a large school district. Sarah shared that she was the daughter of a school libra rian and a teacher. The course marked her first step towards earning her School Library Endorsement. She expressed that she was looking forward to getting back into graduate school and beginning the school library program. This was her first online course experience. In our interaction, I got the sense that Sarah had a strong co nnection to her teacher community and was active in organizations that she described as influe ntial in her larger community. Sarah 's introductory video indicated her excitement to learn "how to be savvy with m edia." Her video stood out to me because while other participants described an expectation to learn more about how to use technology in their classrooms, Sarah's expectation was that we would instead investigate our relationshi ps with media. In her video, she stated:

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57 Social media is everywhereeverything just seems to be right at our fingertips so I think being smart about what we are consuming is a good skill to have and I would like to be able to pass that along to the stud ents I work with Media literacy is being able to take in those messages or information with a type of filter that allows one to recognize what is objective, factual, relative, or real and decide how media messages will influence him or her. Sarah's nar ratives consistently expressed the importance of being mindful media consumers and creators of media, reiterating the definition of critical media literacy that I used throughout the course (Hobbs, 2013). Her conception of critical media literacy addressed the use of a critical thinking lens and it acknowledged that media is influential. Although Sarah was not specific about how the media influences people, I was intrigued that her definitions were focused on the idea that critical media literacy is needed to provide objectivity a filter that can be used to d etermine what is "objective, factual, relative, or real" as she stated. Sarah's narrative also implied that she believes that a moment exists when a person decides whether or not they will be infl uence d by the media. This revealed to me an underlying assumption of an objective reality and the belief that there is an ultimate truth that exists, but is skewed by media. Admittedly, Sarah's pos i tivist definition surprised me and challenged me to consider th at an irreconcilable disconnect may exist between a positivist stance and grasping the emancipatory potential of critical media literacy. Sarah's notion of using critical media literacy to "uncover the truth" was problematic in that it revealed that her in terpretation did not value context or seem to consider the potential of there being more than one interpretation of the "truth." The media deconstruction assignment was given the very first week of the course. Course participants watched a video clip of a Toys "R"Us¨ advertisement (Appendix B) and analyzed it through a critical media literacy lens using the Five Key Concepts of Media Literacy (See Table 3). In this ad, kids are loaded onto a school bus labeled "Meet the Trees Foundation." The guide,

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58 under the guise of being "Ranger Brad," announces "Today we're taking some kids on the best field trip they could wish for." He then shows them some pictures of leaves, as the camera pans around the bus showing bored, tired, and yawning kids. He then reveals tha t they are not going on a natural science field trip at all, but to... Toys"R"Us¨. Kids run from the bus into the store and play with whatever they want. I chose this commercial because it would give course participants a simple media me ssage to deconstr uct for their first assignment. The themes we addressed in the first part of the course were obviously laid out and I tried to create an easy access point to the five concepts of critical media literacy (authorship, format, audience, content, intent). When I first saw this adve rtisement, I was disgusted by the blatant stereotyping of children of color as coming from disa dvantaged socio economic backgrounds and the implication that they needed to be rescued from their sad lives by a white male. The vignettes this advertisement creates are disconcerting. The only white person featured in the advertisement is "Ranger Brad." There appear to be a few white children on the bus but the advertisement focuses only the reactions of the children who are not white. The green bus, along with Ranger Brad's government inspired uniform, create an image that resembles a scene outside of a correctional facility. There was a strangely obvious and tragic metaphor for the institutionalization of education and every frame of this ad is laden with negative stereotypes. I thought this advertisement would facilitate a straightforward discussion for the class to talk about typically uncomfortable topics, like race and gender stereotyping, b ecause the examples were so blatant that they could not be overlooked. However, I was proven wrong. The first question of the assignment addressed the concept of authorship and probed the viewer to try to identify the corporations behind the advertisements. In Sarah 's case, her response

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59 to this firs t media deconstruction assignment revealed a base level, acritical connection to the questions. When asked "who created" the Toys"R"Us¨ advertisement, Sarah's answer was short, vague and simple: "The advertisers at Toys"R"Us¨ created this message." Her ans wer did not engage with the advertisement from a critical stance or demonstrate any awareness of a co nnection to the social constructs related to advertising. In comparison, the sole course participant who successfully demonstrated critical level thinking with regards to this question answered that advertisements are constructed by advertising teams targeting children and parents, and interr ogated the Toys"R"Us¨ corporation, the executives themselves, and its sponsors. The majority of my feedback to Sarah and to the rest of the course participants on this assignment focused on responses to the third and fourth key questions. The goal of the third and fourth questions is to inspire consideration of the notion that people can interpret the same media message differently. This also offered the potential to challenge Sarah 's seemingly positivist a ssumptions expressed earlier. Sarah stated that "Children may interpret this advertisement as play vs. learning is better" and that "parents may receive the message t hat in order to make my child happy, he/she needs lots of toys." Sarah explained that "as an educator I am receiving the message that education is not fun." To the question of what lifestyles, values, and points of view were represented in or omitted from the message, Sarah wrote that she thought the advertisement represented the values, lifestyles, and points of view of "families and children of lower socio economic status... because not everyone can afford a lifestyle at home that allows for lots of nice new toys." She stated that she thought that the parent's point of view was omitted from this me ssage to appeal more to kids because they "are happiest without structure and adult supervision and with their toys to keep them occupied."

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60 Although Sarah 's answers revealed slightly varying perspectives (educators, children, families, parents, children of lower socio economic status), they comfortably align with and r eflect her life experience as a preschool teacher. Her responses provide an example of an acr itical stance that avoids critique, and provides only surface level answers that fail to connect with the critical thinking and critical media literacy concepts that underpin the questions. Focusing on how children, parents, and teachers would interpret th e advertisement reveals that Sarah is either critiquing the advertisement through a lens of white privilege that is oblivious to the presence of racial difference, or she is simply avoiding having to experience the discomfort of discussing, or having to j ustify, conflicting interpretations related to racial stereotyping. In my feedback, I encouraged Sarah to think more deeply about the impact of media me ssages on the development of a child 's identity and to consider what the message was inferring about t he children in the bus in order to draw connections to the population being represented. Along with conveying the obvious message that playing is better than learning, or that kids di slike adult supervision, I asked her to consider how the advertisement wa s sending strong me ssages about the children being depicted. Among these, the strongest message was that the chi ldren represented are easily duped, and if it were not for the benevolence of Toys"R"Us¨, they would not have access to either toys or a happy c hildhood. I asked Sarah to consider whether a child would likely see themselves in the Toys"R"Us¨ advertisement, or if they would see a st ereotype meant to reflect their life experience. I asked Sarah to consider the impact of seeing that in not just one a dvertisement, but in an entire lifetime's worth of advertisements repeating the same types of messages and depicting the same stereotypical portrayals of race and class. A few weeks into the course, the course participants watched the trailers to two film s and responded to questions in the threaded discussion in response to two video taken clips from the

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61 films. The first was a short excerpt from the film Killing Us Softly (2010) by Jeanne Kilbourne that specifically addresses the treatment of women and you ng girls in media messages. Kilbourne convincingly explains how a consequence of the consistent, omnipresent positioning of women in the media as "props" and objects to be consumed or used directly relates to the perpetuation of aggression towards women in society and the aggression of women towards themselves in the form of eating disorders and perfectionism (Appendix B). Sarah explained that This reminded me of a short segment that I recently watched on the Daily Show John jokes about welcoming Bruc e Jenner to womanhood and as such she will be treated accordingly by the media I think this happens with a lot of women who are in the spotlight and attempt to go beyond feminine' expectations. The opposite is also true for men who show themselves as less than masculine.' In this adaptive response, Sarah demonstrates an awareness of an inequity in media portrayals of women but does not connect this equity to real life consequences. In the threaded discussion, I asked Sarah if she could identify a real life consequence of the mistreatment of women in the media messages. This question seemed to help her shift to a pre critical connection between the wage gap between men and women and the media. However, her insight stops short of connec ting how wome n in the media are portrayed with their job opportunities and their perceptions of their own potential: There are a number of jobs in society where there are significantly more women or men in that field, and I believe that is because of societal views of men or women working in those positions. For example, the majority of preschool, kindergarten and ea rly elementary teachers are women. Is this because it is not considered masculine' for men to be nurturers of young children? I personally disagree, but it is still a reality. I commented in my notes that Sarah can "see" the problem but rationalizes it as being outside of her control, which is yet another example of an adaptive stage of sociopolitical development. This demonstrates that Sarah is aware that a problem exists in the inequity of the portrayal of men and women in the media but has an underlying unwillingness or inability to move forward

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62 towards considering how to sol ve the problem or even admit that the problem needs solving. This is also evidence that Sarah's degree of sociopolitical control, or her belief that her actions can lead to change, remained unchanged throughout the semester. Sarah 's reaction and response after viewing the documentary Merchants of Cool: A R eport on the Creators and Marketers of Popular Culture for Teenagers (Frontline, 2001) signaled a regression in her sociopolitical awareness. The film, although dated, provides excellent exa mples of the l engths that companies will go to target the teen market. Although the strategies have changed in the time since that the film was made, it reveals the powerful symbiotic relationship between the media and teens in their search for identity and uncovers tac tics, techniques, and cu l tural ramifications of predatory teen marketing by interviewing marketers, media executives and cultural media critics. I expected the participants to have the same reaction that I had when I first watched this film which was outra ge and disgust. I remember that I walked out of the classroom because I was so overwhelmed by some of the images. When I read the responses to this film, I was struck by their ambivalence and I was concerned that they did not understand the connection betw een how marketing techniques literally shape culture and the behaviors and a ctions of young people. Sarah stated in the threaded discussion that exploitation was "the last thing that came to mind" during the film explaining that "at least in the 1990s the cool hunters' had to seek out a ctual people, get their permission to receive their feedback, and in some instances, those people would receive something in return for their time and responses." "I don't blame the "mooks" and "midriffs" or the media solel y for the actions of individuals, but it does make me wonder to what extent the media is responsible for perpetuating rape culture'?" This response was uncritical and connected with the concepts of critical media literacy at a very surface level. The exp loit a

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63 tion that the film addresses is focused on the cultural level ramifications of the accepted marke ting techniques used to interrogate adolescents, drill down to their insecurities and then use these findings to mass market identity Sarah's response wa s shocking to me because she was defen ding the advertiser's tactics as acceptable because the teenagers were seemingly aware of what they were taking part in and receiving compensation for it. In terms of sociopolitical develo pment, Sarah's statement led m e to believe that she failed to grasp the concept of cognitive e mpowerment as she was not able to see how the relationship between the teens and the marketing investigators was exploitative and how their ideology was manipulated for profit (Speer & Pete rso n, 2000). Sarah 's sociopolitical development had shifted very slightly by the last weeks of the course to reach the adaptive stage, as evident in her deconstruction of a Dodge¨ commercial for the 2010 Super Bowl, titled "Man's Last Stand." This commercial consists of a series of close up images of lifeless and bored looking middle aged men as a monotone male voice over describes what men must endure as a result of the women in their lives. The advertisement makes the a rgument that, in exchange for all that they put up with from women, men are entitled to the thrill of owning a Dodge Charger¨. The overtly sexist message, that women emasculate men by na gging and rendering them powerless in all areas of their lives, is delivered in a condescendingly light hear ted tone. The narrator sarcastically describes the range of tasks that men endure: I will get up and walk the dog at six thirty in the morning I will say yes' when you want me to say yes' and be quiet when you don't want to hear me say no' I will sha ve I will clean the sink after I shave I will put my underwear in the laundry ha mper I will sit through two hour meetings I will carry your Chapstick. I will talk to your mother And because I do this, I will drive the car I want to drive. The last shot is of the Dodge Charger¨ revving its engine as it speeds away and the text "Man's Last Stand" appears on the screen.

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64 Sarah 's response to this media deconstruction demonstrates increased awareness, or wil lingness to acknowledge, asymmetry and inequali ty by identifying the creators of the message as the "advertisers at the Dodge¨ car company," who she assumes "are straight men." Sarah makes an indirect accusation that the message being sent is sexist by assuming that the authors are straight men, but do es not go further than merely suggesting that fact. Here, Sarah shows a shift in critical thinking from an acritical stage of sociopolitical development to an adaptive stage by acknowledging the corporate hierarchy that impacts the construction of a messag e and that ge nder also plays a role in how messages are created. My feedback asked Sarah to reconsider her assumption that the Dodge¨ advertisement was created by straight men, but rather that it was created for straight men by a strategic marketing team w ith the expertise to reach their target a udience. Although deconstructing the Dodge ¨ advertisement showed that Sarah's lens of diversity had expanded, her analysis also revealed her underlying assumptions and stereotypes about men, women, men of color, a nd the gay community. Again, in her adaptive response, Sarah shows e vidence of being self critical and attempts to acknowledge multiple views, but her underlying a ssumptions and stereotypes about groups remain evident. When asked how different people might interpret the message differently from her, Sarah answered that the men in the advertisement might think that the message being sent is that men "should drive a loud muscle car, be respons ible, have a wife, and do things to be responsible even though they don't want to." Sarah thought that "men of color and boys receive the message that white men are the only true men." She thought that the "gay community" would feel "completely discounted" by the advertisement b ecause it does not pertain to them, even if they do "like muscle cars." Sarah thought the adve rtisement represented the values of heterosexual white men and their responsibilities to their d e

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65 manding wives and girlfriends. Sarah said that she found the phrase "man's last stand" especially irritating because it suggested that masculinity was being diminished by women. Although she may have found the advertisement "irritating," Sarah's position on gender stereotypes that exist in the media are expressed as something that is beyond her control. She state s: I don 't necessarily believe that media is the root cause of gender stereotypes and discrepancies, but I do believe that a great deal of media perpetuates these stereotypes. On the other hand, agreeing with many of you, media literacy is not only consuming media with a lens, but also creating it with consciousness of our message, I think that media gives us all an avenue to combat gender norms and stereotypes, and that is encouraging. Sarah's analysis of the Dodge¨ advertisement shows adapt ive stage behaviors by acknowled ging the system but describing it as "immutable." This is further evidence that Sarah demonstrated a low level of sociopolitical control as she was not able to see any possible solution that was within her control. This is a lso evidence of low level social attribution as the problem rests on the shoulders of the viewers rather than on those of the media creators (Watts and Guessous, 2013). Watts explains that these accommodation strategies are employed to maintain a positive sense of self and to acquire social and material rewards. With her answer, Sarah acknowledges the pro blem of perpetuating stereotypes but chooses to assuage her own concern by offering up an "e ncouraging" antidote about media creation. At the time of the course, Sarah had already earned a master 's degree, so my expectations were admittedly higher for her than they were for some of the other course participants. This was based on my expectation that a graduate student would be more comfortable with the critical thinking process and the learning en vironment, more willing to challenge both themselves and others, and would enjoy being challenged by a graduate level course. However, her narratives revealed that although she was capable of thinking at a critical level, she did not engage with

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66 others or with the material at a level that indicated that she had shifted beyond a pseudo critical level of sociopolitical development. Online environments allow for a level of anonymity that can either make participants feel free to express themselves or can have the opposite effect and provide them with too much time to self censor and second guess their initial reactions. Our topics were also value laden, which added another level of complexity to honest dialogue. Race, gender, and cultural stereotypes were ofte n being discussed in this course and navigating those conversations in any environment can be complicated and intimidating. In interacting with Sarah throughout the semester, I was not convinced that she could observe the scope and incredible power that th e media has over one's sense of self. Sarah did not seem convinced that the media plays a powerful role in naming, cat egorizing, and scripting our lives or that stereotypes work because they represent something that we recognize as being true even if it is not, because they are prevalent in the narratives and me ssages that are presented to us in thousands of different ways through the media. The second goal of this research was to understand whether participants perceived their participation in the course as changing their perspectives about media and, if so, in what ways. After the course had ended and grades were turned in, I reached out to the participants that had indicated at the beginning of the semester that they would like to be a part of the study and then arranged a time for a video call that was later transcribed. All participants were asked the que stions below and engaged in a one on one discussion with me about their experiences in the class. Sarah and I were able to Skype three weeks after the course had ended. It was a semi formal i nterview and I tried to keep the interview questions (Appendix A) as conversational as possible. I did not want her to feel like I was putting her "on the spot" or trying to test her knowledge. Our conversation was p leasant and I was relieved and happy to hear that she perceived her experience

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67 as transformational and rewarding. I was glad that her first graduate level course in our program was positive and that she felt like it was worth her time because the course wa s created to foster the development of critical media literacy skills and to cultivate perspective transformation. I asked Sarah if she felt that she had experienced a change in her perspective on the co ncept of critical media literacy. She explained tha t although she had started the course with some knowledge of critical media literacy, the course did expand her understanding: I think before the course I had some awareness that I needed to be skeptical of media, or recognized that media is portraying so me sort of message, but I was not labeling it that way. I feel like I came to the class having an awareness of media as a message and not every message out there being factual I think overall just getting a greater cognizance of critical media literacy an d having a greater more defined definition of what it is. She explained that the course specifically helped her to better understand the important role that the media industry plays in the creation of media messages: "The course definitely opened up my ey es to the need to look at media consumption as carefully as media creation and looking at the media industry with a more critical lens." Sarah explained that she noticed that she found that things that resonated or reflected her own values were easier for her to accept and, therefore "be less critical of" than those that did not reflect her own values. I thought this was a point of growth to recognize that presence of bias in her own value judgment. She explained that she experienced a situation where sh e was driving with her family and saw a billboard for a trucking company that featured a silhouette of a nude girl sitting sideways the kind of image that you might see "on like trucker flaps" with the caption "I got detailed at so and so auto center" S he said she was "grumbling" about it to her sister and questioned her feelings about the advertisement as she talked to her sister about it: It was misogynistic in my opinion for the way this company was choosing to advertise. If I were someone else, how would I view that differently? I told my sister I 'm taking this class and it's making me think about things in a different way.

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68 Sarah's self examination and assessment of her own assumptions suggests a level of awareness and desire to engage in dial ogue about a subject that she may not have been comfortable con5fronting before. Sarah described that she felt more comfortable talking to people about her new perspectives and that the course gave her options and a stronger foundation from which to start when describing a problem to someone else. In addition, Sarah said that she was looking forward to implementing what she had learned in her own classroom. She described how she planned to put what she had learned into action by hosting an open house for he r preschool pa rents to teach them a little bit more about what media literacy is and why it's important for other research, but what's behind the movement and why it's important and you know present to them "here's something you can do to help make you more cognizant of what your preschoole r is consuming and how you can be involved in that." She explained that she intended to use the knowledge, skills, and resources that she had gained in class and felt confident enough to share them with her colleagues. She described the integration of he r new perspective into her life by noticing that she is interacting with social media differen tly and "being more conscientious of the things that I am posting or sharing on Facebook and just when I am out and about I think I'm noticing things in a slightl y different way or maybe a sligh tly more analytical way." However, Sarah did not demonstrate an increase in agency or a desire to participate in the community or political projects to further develop her individual sense of age ncy. Although I do feel tha t Sarah viewed her experience in the course as rewarding and changing her perspectives about media, her growth in terms of critical media literacy develo pment and her movement through Watts stages of sociopolitical development were minimal. S arah demonstr ated what I consider to be a pre critical awareness of the social implications of m e

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69 dia messages, as the majority of her participation in the course failed to provide evidence that she was willing to move past a critique or acknowledgement of the existence of the problems to find a solution. Our interactions implied that she felt that media messaging is a problem that perpet uates negative stereotypes (to a degree), but I also felt that she believed that it is just something to accept and nothing of conseque nce needs to be done about it.

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70 Table 6 Sarah Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Source: Participant Narrative: SPD/ML Code & Observ ations: Media Deco nstruction #1 ToysRUs ad Children may interpret this as play vs. learning is better as though those ideas are mutually exclusive. Par ents may receive the message that in order to make my child happy, he/she needs lots of toys. As an educator I am receiving the message that education is not fun." Acritical: Resource asy mmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is tho ught to reflect real diffe rences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience. Media Deconstruction #2 Dodge Charger ad Men : to be a man I must be a respons ible individual, who has a wife/girlfriend. I must do things to be responsible even though I don't want to, and I must drive a loud muscle car. Men of color: white men are the only true men. Boys : white men are true men, and in order to grow up and be a man I have to like girls, and feel irritated by them, and I have to like loud muscle cars. Women : I am anno ying to my husband/boyfriend and not allowed to drive muscle cars. The Gay community I am completely discounted in this advertisement and it pertains to me in no way... but what If I like muscle cars?" Acritical but leaning more Adaptive or Pseudo critical: Resource asymmetry is acknowledged as well as c apabilities of group members. I see an expanded lens in trying to show multiple perspectives or addre ss diversity in her analysis but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens is still poised inside of her own of experience and o nly superficially poised to u nderstanding the "gay" co mmunity.

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71 Table 6, Continued Sarah Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Source: Participant Narrative: SPD/ML Code & O bservations: Media Deconstruction #3 Healthy Choice ad "This message seems to empower white young professionals and disempower middle aged adults or beyond particularly middle aged women clin ging to their youth There are no people of color in this commercial, no children, no one of a low soc ioeconomic status, and the couple in the commercial is straight. This serves the media makers interests because it serves the majority of Americans... young white straight people who do n't cook. m ajority being the stereo type of Americans, not ne cessarily the true majority values, youth, health, b eing independent of your parents, being hip are all values that are represented. Some subtext might be that honesty is awkward and therefore sh ouldn't be used so freely in regular conversations. Another subtext might be that only white or straight people eat healthy food." Adaptive or Pseudo critical: Resource asymmetry is acknow ledged as well as cap abilities of group me mbers. Lens shows more pe rspectives and a ttempts to address d iversity in her analysis in regards to race and gender but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stere otypes about groups. Lens still feels superf icially poised. Media Deconstruction #4 Dove Real Women ad Some people may initially see the women and have an initial reaction of wondering why their pi ctures are being highlighted, as they do not have the appearance of a more traditio nal fashion model, but upon further investigation they may agree or dis agree with the idea that women are beautiful not matter their age or size. Both of these women a ppear white, so it does leave one to wonder if wo men of color are also beautiful at any s ize or age. Though I have seen other dove advertisements from this campaign that do feature women of color. Dove is not for men is another way that this could be interpreted." Adaptive or Pseudo critical. I see an e xpanded lens in trying to show multiple p erspe ctives or address divers ity in her analysis but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens is supe rficially poised as ou tside of experience.

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72 Table 6, Continued Sarah Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Media Deconstruction #5 Scene from Disney's Au stin & Allie sit com "There seems to be a lot of white kids being fe atured in the clip and the students of color are mos tly in the background. The skinny white girls are all playing somewhat stereotypical roles such as stuck up, and cheerleader... The biggest values that seem to come across to me, are earning your roles vs. deserving or being entitled tho them, and being a g ood sport when things don't go your way. I think they are also attempting to devalue being pretty even though the lead is a beautiful girl, she isn't beautiful in the traditional sense... skinny, blonde, etc." Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real differences in the cap abilities of group me mbers. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience. Sarah appeared to be "playing it safe" throughout the semes ter by demonstrating her awareness of inequity but choosing not to engage with that concept or attempt to change it. For example, Sarah did not avoid self critique and she often acknowledged a personal bias towards her media choices. Moreover, she attempte d to demonstrate multiple perspectives and to address dimensions of diversity in her analysis of the media. However, she also demonstrated consistent evidence of having underlying assumptions and perpetuating stereotypes about groups throug hout her narrati ves. Therefore, Sarah s lens of perspective was often self centered and perhaps superficially poised to convince her readers that she was not complacent when it came to the asymmetry and inequality that the media perpetuates. Table 6 provides a brief summa ry of S arah s responses and subsequent change in perspective and shifts in sociopolitical development as they relate to the media deconstruction assignment 's questions "How might people different from me interpret this message.

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73 Portrait IV: Carolyn From C arolyn's introductory video, I learned that this course was the fifth that she had taken in her graduate program. She was, at the time, approximately halfway through her pr ogram. At the beginning of the semester, Carolyn's engagement with the course materi al and her responses to the media deconstructions were very similar to Sarah's. However, I found that Ca rolyn responded positively to feedback and seemed to quickly become more comfortable expres sing herself in the course. I thought that this might have be en because she was more comfortable in an online environment or participating in a graduate level course. The responses she gave at the beginning of the semester were not immediately critical, but she reached that level of thin king much faster than the ot her course participants. At the beginning of the semester, she described critical media literacy as being able to look at different types of media and "decode what is actually being said to be able to look at something from several angles and think abou t what it actually is be able to view it [media] from different viewpoints and then decide on what it is that you are actually seeing, or reading." She described herself as media literate and believed that the media influenced her own thoughts, ideas, beh aviors, values, and beliefs. Carolyn's deconstruction of the Toys"R"Us¨ advertisement during the first week of the course reveals responses that were similar to Sarah's (See Table 1). Carolyn's answers made a base level and acritical connection to the qu estions. When asked "who created" the Toys"R"Us¨ advertisement, Carolyn's answer was even more perfunctory than Sarah's, as she simply stated: "Toys"R"Us¨." Like Sarah's response, simply identifying the company fails to demonstrate any awareness of a conne ction to the social constructs that are inherent in adverti sing. When considering the notion that people can interpret the same media message differently,

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74 Carolyn stated that "all ages" could understand the message that "Toys"R"Us¨ is a great toy store" an d that parents would receive the message that "toys will help kids be happy" and the "general population" would get the message that "it is fun to dream and imagine." In response to the question regarding what lifestyles, values, and points of view were re presented in, or omitted from, the message, Carolyn wrote that she thought the advertisement represented the perspective that "new toys that lead to happiness and dreams coming true" and that "Toys"R"Us¨ will make your kids happy and inspired." Similar to Sarah's, Carolyn's answers were safe or predictable and reflected her own life experience. Carolyn avoided critique and gave only superficial a nswers that failed to critically engage or connect to critical media literacy concepts. It was hard to determine if this response was tempered by the effects of white privilege that caused Carolyn to be oblivious to the presence of racial difference, or indicative of an avoidance tactic to reduce her discomfort with discussing racial stereotyping. In her response to Kilbourne 's gender investigation, Killing Us Softly (2010), Carolyn reflected upon her own childhood and on how commercials for Easy Bake Ovens, My Little P ony, and Barbie dolls were gender biased. Carolyn commented that the media contin ues to perpe tuate traditional masculine and feminine roles today. For example, Carolyn described how when she watched the Super Bowl this year, one car commercial stood out to her because of its atyp ical portrayal of a "single dad going through the trials and tribulations of having a daughter and then seeing her off to join the Army." She also thought the Caitlyn Jenner story that had hit the headlines at the time was interesting in that "many shows have started dissecting her looks and her body." Her answ ers move beyond uncritical to become adaptive because she is thinking about what the message is implying about acceptable masculine and feminine roles. Although these responses acknowledge and demonstrate an awareness of a problem, Carolyn's analysis

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75 does not progress to investigate or question what impact gender biased messages have on soci ety. In the middle of the semester, I began to notice that Carolyn 's analysis had become more socially focused and less self centered. Her responses to Merchants of Co ol: A Report on the Creators and Marketers of Popular Culture for Teenagers (Frontline, 2001) focused on the s ocial implications of targeted teen marketing practices. It was interesting to see her analysis throughout this particular threaded discussion. At the beginning of the discussion, she posted about the importance of educating course participants on the "tricks and gimmicks used by co mpanies" to show her students "how teenagers are exploited." As the conversation in the threaded discussion progressed, Carolyn questioned her classmates' stances on the exploitation of teens, stating "I am going to play Devil's advocate here; yes, teens are being exploited, but do these companies and trends give them a place where they feel connected to other peoplea pla ce where they feel like they can belong?" Similar to Sarah, Carolyn's analysis is fairly uncritical and only superficially connects with the concepts of critical media literacy; however, she had become more focused on the ramifications of the marketing tec hniques on a cultural level. Throughout the semester, Carolyn consistently steered clear of addressing the role that race plays in the advertisements, despite my efforts to encourage everyone in the class to look more closely at the subtle and not so subtle racial stereotyping prevalent in all of the advertis ements, even the ads that appear to only address gender (like the Dodge ¨ ad). Carolyn was co mfortable talking about gender stereotypes, stating that the Dodge¨ advertisement was "most lik ely created by a man" and that the message "man's last stand" is a masculine phrase used to d escribe war. This implies that marriage is a "battle over masculinity" as represented in the battle over which car to drive. Carolyn thought the advertising campaign was directed at a "pretty sp e

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76 cific" demographic of middle class, employed, young, and married (or seriously committed) men. She thought that the main message was that men deserve their reward because of "all that they have to put up with." These adaptive l evel responses are evidence of a personally focused lens her responses clearly represent the perspective of a white female who is not considering how people different from herself might interpret the advertisement. Another media deconstruction provided a n opportunity to analyze a television show pr oduced by the Disney Corporation, Austin and Ally that is targeted specifically at pre teens. I chose this advertisement for this assignment because Disney's role in our media landscape is i ncredibly powerful. The clip shows mostly young, white teenagers (even though the setting is in Miami Beach, where there is a large Latina/o community). The two main white characters do not get the roles that they wanted in a play but are still the center of attention. The ac tor who does get the main role in the play is a robust, presumably Latina, girl who does not retain the focus of the clip even though she has won the lead and is applauded for her believable portrayal of being asleep. There is also an Asian male character that is stereotypically portraying a soft spoken nerd. This clip is interesting because Disney is being hypocritical by using typecasting in an ep isode that focuses on stereotyping. Carolyn brought up stereotypes, but seemed unable to reach a level of und erstanding that connected the repercussions of positive and negative racial stereotyping to the limiting of our perceptions of people different from ourselves. In Carolyn's analysis of the Disney television show, she focused on the role of stereotypes: On e thing that really stood out to me is the use of all the traditional stereotypes that you see in this clip several different types of people are shown, but they are all very stereotypical and clichÂŽ the extravert pretty popular girl the overweight kind friend the Asian nerd, complete with plaid vest and bow tie the ditzy blonde who is exci ted to be a tree.

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77 On one level, she was able to see a connection between how one's life experience would affect the interpretation of a message, stating "I think your age and demographic would really influence how you see [understand] this video." However, she seemed to interpret this as only positive, stating that she views the "wide range of characters in the show" as a helpful way "to connect with a variet y of viewers" and "help lots of kids relate to the show." She thought that the me ssage was being sent in order "to help show their audience that even though stereotypes exist and can be funny, they can also be broken." I was excited to see that she was moving towards a pre critical level of sociopolitical development, but I was also aware that I needed to find a way to help her understand that stereotypes, even those that appear benign, are sometimes so familiar and subt le that we overlook how they place limits on the young minds that see themselves as typecast in the characters, story lines, and situations depicted for their entire lives. Although both Carolyn 's and Sarah's responses to the media deconstructions were s im ilar in their acritical and adaptive tendencies, I believe that Carolyn's overall transformation and degree of sociopolitical development was greater than Sarah's. Carolyn's final project and inte rview revealed a strong desire to incorporate what she had learned from the course into her daily life in ways that would inspire change in her students and in others. Although Sarah saw the course as changed her perspectives about media on a personal level, by the time of the final pr oject and in the interview, it was clear that Carolyn was taking steps to bring critical media liter acy to her school's administration and her fellow teachers in ways that moved beyond her own personal experience. Course participants were given the assignment of creating a project that they could use in their educational context and asked to record a presentation to the class describing their project.

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78 For example, it could have been a learning resource in an area of their choosing with a potential application in their current or ant icipated work setting. Carolyn created a twelve unit lesson plan for seventh and eighth graders that tackled social media and internet safety. She connected her curriculum to national standards and included learning objectives, a list of materials steps f or e xecution, and an innovative "exit ticket" concept to ensure student understanding. I was impressed with her project's thoroughness and our conversations led me to believe that she was excited about implementing this curriculum in her school. Her projec t showed me that she had grown and reached a new level of understanding about critical media literacy since the commencement of the course. The project seemed to draw everything together for her into a cohesive plan that made the project goals clearer for her. In our final interview, I asked Carolyn if she had experienced a change in her perspective on media and her teaching as it relates to critical media literacy. She replied by stating: "I've r eally taken a hold of it. I love it. I believe that there h as been a major shift in my perspectives about media and my teaching since taking the course." I asked her to clarify what she believed had changed in her understanding of media and critical media literacy. She spoke directly to her lens becoming less self focused: "I think I had a very limited view at the beginning that just ce ntered around me and what I put out as opposed to how I read things and how I interpret things and how others are interpreting things and how that can be different. In describing th at change, she spoke about being able to look at "different messages that are all around us in a little bit di fferent light I didn't know how much kids' lives are affected by media and how much time they were putting into it." In her interview, Carolyn fo cused heavily on how she was applying her new mindset to the things she reads and hears and applying it into her teaching by recogni zing that "everything the kids read is all created by someone and there's always going to be a

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79 message behind it." She expla ined that at the beginning of the course, she thought critical media literacy was going to be more about creating media as opposed to critiquing our own experiences with media and "what we need to be thinking about as we see it." Carolyn explained that on e of the things she valued most about the course was how it a pplied to her teaching in ways that other courses had not. I 've really enjoyed this class because I was also able to create something and use it right away from week one in the school. Which is so valuable because of the way you structured it, I'm going to be using it. I used it last week with the teachers and I'm going to be using it next week with the kids. It made me look really good to my new principal to see me doing this kind of work with the students and the teachers. She explained that she had just met with the principal at her school and showed her the critical media literacy unit that she would be teaching to the eighth grade students. Carolyn had also pr esented a critical media literacy unit to school staff in a teacher professional development session and was scheduled to deliver more once a month so that she could "get some of those resources in the hands of the different age levels and different things that they [teachers] cou ld do in their class with the different ages on how to bring those perceptions to their students all the way down to kindergarten." Carolyn talked about how the professional development session "went really well because the teachers got to pick which prof essional development topic they wanted to hear and half of the staff showed up for my presentationSo far, I have collaborative lessons planned with four teachers." I learned from Carolyn 's interview that the online environment impacted how she inte racted in the course and placed limits on which topics she was comfortable bringing up in the threaded discussions. She explained: I remember at the beginning of the semester, there was a lot of push back and people not wanting to bring up things like race or conversations like that because it 's hard. I think because when you're face to face it's a lot easier to bring up the more difficult subjects

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80 like race or gender equality or all the different hot button topics because you're able to see the person and kind of see if they're understanding where you're coming from. She further described her experience in retrospect: Looking back I realize that I was not comfortable writing things in the way that I was hearing it in my head especially with the toy st ore ad, when looking at the race and the genders of the kids, I immediately thought this is an inner city school that never gets to go outside, and here these kids are going back into a toy store.' I recognized that the only reason I thought that was because they were of different ethnicities but I was afraid to post that. Especially with some of the women ads too, because I didn't know how people were going to take it. You can't actually see them to tell if they're going to be offended with what you're saying, whether or not that's how you meant it. I don't know if that came out right. It is a lot easier face to face. Our course met weekly online in a chat room and Carolyn explained that these weekly meetings made those difficult topics easier t o address because they happened synchronously. Some of the threaded discussions and conversations took place asynchronously and some lasted well over a week, so if somebody did not understand what someone else meant or needed clarification, there was time to "think and stew about it and wonder if that's what they really meant." In creating Carolyn 's portrait, I began to understand more clearly that although a course participant may show acritical and adaptive behaviors during their learning experience, the y can demonstrate critical and liberatory level consciousness in the actions they take to improve what they see as the problem, and this may not always be apparent during the course itself. I also learned that the online environment clearly impacted how sh e interacted in the course and limited the topics that she was comfortable addressing in the threaded discussions. Carolyn 's portrait was interesting to create in comparison to the analysis of Sarah's exp erience. Although both Carolyn's and Sarah's respon ses to the media deconstructions were similar in their acritical and adaptive tendencies, I believe that Carolyn's overall transformation and the extent of her sociopolitical development was far greater. Carolyn's sociopolitical development

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81 was not always apparent in her in class interactions, but her actions and enthusiasm about critical media literacy were revealed in her final interview when she showed a strong desire to incorp orate what she had learned from the course into her daily life in order to ins pire change in her st udents and in others. Although Sarah saw the course as changing her perspectives about media on a personal level, by the final interview, Carolyn was taking steps to bring critical media literacy to her school's administration and her fellow teachers in ways that extended beyond her own e xperience. Carolyn is in an excellent position to be able to incorporate critical media literacy into her curriculum as a digital teacher librarian in a school that goes from kindergarten through to the eighth grade. This portrait reveals that although a course participant may show acritical and adaptive behaviors during their learning experience, they can demonstrate critical and liberatory level consciousness in the actions that they take after the cou rse has finished. Table 7 provides a brief summary of Carolyn's responses and subsequent change in perspective and shifts in soci opolitical development as they relate to the media deconstruction assignment's questions "How might people different from me in terpret this message.

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82 Table 7 Carolyn Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Source: Participant Narrative: SPD/ML Code & Observations: Media D econstruction #1 ToysRUs ad All ages would understand this message: kids Toys R Us is a great toy store, pa rents toys will help kids be happy, general population it is fun to dream and ima gine." Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the exis ting social order is thought to r eflect real differences in the cap abilities of group members. In e ssen ce, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own exper ience. Media Deconstru ction #2 Dodge Charger ad "I could see a female finding this comme rcial to be very trite. Either because she doesn't think it's funny to portray the co mpromise or joint duty that is marriage as a negative thing. The final message of the commercial is man's last stand, usually a phrase that's reserved for a battle or war. It seems to be implying that being married is a constant fight with his masc ulinity and this is the one, and only reward that he gets. I could also see this from the side of a woman who wants to drive a fast no powerful car This message is full of st ereotypes." Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the exis ting social order is thought to r eflect real differences in the cap abilities of group members. In e ssence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own exper ience.

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83 Table 7, continued Carolyn Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Media Deconstru ction #3 Healthy Choice ad "This message empowers the younger generation but takes power away from the older generation. It suggests that you have to dress and act younger than you are, and that your children will be embarrassed by you. This ad is geared to the age group and demographic that comes to the table with the most money to spend, young middle class white people ." Adaptive or Pseudo critical: R esource asymmetry is acknow ledged as well as capabilities of group members. Lens shows more perspectives and attempts to a ddress diversity in her analysis in regards to race and gender but her answers still show underlying a ssumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens still feels superficia lly poised. Media Deconstru ction #4 Dove Real Women ad "This ad is aimed at middle aged, and older, women who might feel insecure about their looks. The ad might think that they are giving women the option to feel either fit or fat, but it might actually be pointing out a description that the woman m ight not have ever associated with he rself. A woman might be proud of her body, one that is similar to the first picture, and never considered herself fat until it was suggested. Adaptive or Pseudo critical. I see an expanded lens in trying to show multip le perspectives or a ddress diversity in her analysis but her answers still show underlying assumptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens is superficially poised as outside of experience. Media Deconstru ction #5 Scene from Disney's Austin & A llie sit com "I think your age and demographic would really influence how you see this video. They have a wide range of characters in the show to help connect with a variety of viewers. I think that would help lots of kids relate to the show. It seems to take place in a fairly affluent or at least middle class setting. The problems that they e ncounter would probably only be relevant to those from a similar background. Older viewers might find these story line clichÂŽ and played out, but they would relate and hit a nerve with younger viewers who can relate." Acritical: Resource asymmetry is outside of awareness, or the exis ting social order is thought to r eflect real differences in the cap ab ilities of group members. In e ssence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own exper ience.

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84 Portrait V: Mallory Mallory was an elementary school teacher for ten years and had worked mainly with st udents from kindergarten to grade two. For the past five years, she has lived overseas but is now back in the United States substitute teaching in classes from kindergarten through to high school. She is also currently a full time student working towards ea rning a position as a teacher librarian. Mallory's undergraduate degree was in gender, ethnicity, and race studies. At the beginning of the semester, Mallory described herself as very media literate and believed that her own thoughts, ideas, behaviors, val ues, and beliefs were only slightly impacted by the media. She e xpressed the belief that others are highly affected by media messages. Compared to other course participants, she did appear to have a clear understanding of the critical framework. She stated in her introductory video that "this is the first time I've heard the term media literacy and I would define it as: the ability to unpack hidden or deeper media messages." The demonstration of Mallory 's critical thinking about media messages was similar to Sarah's and Carolyn's. Her analysis of the Toys"R"Us¨ advertisement was similarly acritical and focused on the goal of the business selling toys by framing it as a "one stop shop place you need to go to purchase toys and items children need or want to h ave a fulfilling childhood." The persuasive tactics she recognized in the advertisement did not extend beyond the superficial and extremely obvious symbols in the advertisement, stating that "Most everyone has had a school and school bus experience, so the creators use that, and happy children, to tug on our heart strings." Her answers at the beginning of the course were uncritical and without critique. Her a nswers were surface level and did not connect with the concepts underlying the questions. Like other s in the course, I had to push Mallory to recognize and discuss the racial and cultural stere otypes represented in the ad versus her focus on the very obvious metaphor of the advertisement

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85 comparing "Toys R Us as a heaven like experience for children." The only audience that Mall ory focused on as interpreting the advertisement differently were "people who did not have chi ldren," who might receive the message that "they can go to Toys R Us if they need a present or gift for a child in their life." It was n ot until later in the semester that I was able to gauge Mallory 's grasp of the mat erial and recognize that she was applying pre critical and critical analyses to it. It was at this point that Mallory caught my attention and it was exciting to see that some one in the class was able to move past an acritical analysis. I was growing concerned that my choices for the media deco nstructions were not easy enough to deconstruct and that I had somehow missed the mark with how I had organized the course. Mallory 's analysis of the Dodge¨ Charger media deconstruction focused predominantly on the gender of the person who created the advertisement, Mallory stated, "An advertising firm created this message for Dodge¨. I feel that the team who worked on this was (or at le ast I hope) comprised of all males." This is a step forward for Mallory but her answer is adaptive on two levels. First, her answer shows that Mallory was not thinking at a level of awareness that acknowledges the fact that gender biased advertisements hav e a significant social impact on the lives of women. Second, the critical lesson in the deconstruction of the Dodge Charger¨ adve rtisement does not lie in determining the gender of the person that created the message; in fact, this is irrelevant. Mallory focuses on how men view the message rather than women. Some men might view this message as evidence that all women nag, act demanding and are the needier partner in a relationship long term relationships and marriage are terrible for men; somethin g so bad they need their own car to drive away from the issues. In fact, it's SO bad their women owe them this car.

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86 Like Sarah's and Carolyn's, Mallory's critique of the role of gender in the advertisement was focused on the idea that advertisements ar e created by a group of inherently flawed humans that are sitting around a table trying to marginalize women because they are chauvinistic. To counter this thinking, I asked the students to consider that the advertisement was most likely created by a team of professionals targeting a very narrow segment of the population most likely at a micro level that even determined the type of toothpaste their target audience used and to disregard the chauvinism or racism of the creators as ultimately being inconsequen tial. I explained that the devastating consequence of advertisements like this lies in its fixating on definitions of masculi nity and femininity that become ingrained in the social narrative and limit how young boys and girls create their identities and de termine their self worth. Being able to recognize this impact is the true goal of critical media literacy. When a person is able to see the media through the lens of social consequence, they are demonstrating a critical level of sociopolitical development. At times, Mallory was able to observe the limiting impact of the media's messages but would often fail to observe the social implications. Another example of Mallory 's adaptive tendencies was evident in her analysis of the Disney advertisement. In her an alysis, Mallory avoided the discussion of cultural stereotypes. In this way, I saw Mallory's response as adaptive. She describes the advertisement as follows: This culturally diverse group of teens is dressed in current fashion trends and sporting trend y haircuts. A P.E. teacher is acting as the drama teacher, but still blowing the stereotypical whistle, carrying a clipboard and speaking like an authoritative sports coach I think they have simplified teen personas to the traditional roles of jock, ch ee rleader, nerd and show teachers as authoritative and not considerate of their students' feelings. I doubt older teens would watch this. She brought up benign stereotypes in the advertisement, but did not speak to gender or culture. Because of this ina bility to look through the lens of gender or race, I felt that she was unable to

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87 reach a level of understanding that connected with the repercussions of positive and negative r acial stereotyping. She was not able to see the limiting effect of advertisement s like this on our perceptions of people different from ourselves. Her response to the Killing Us Softly trailer shifted to pre critical as she addressed gender bias and cultural stereotypes which revealed to me that she had become slightly more comfort able sharing her opinions in the course. Mallory stated: "The media, especially in the Middle East, makes very clear assumptions about how men and boys should behave (like the man of the house) and how women and girls are portrayed as being ideal beauties a nd caretakers." This a nswer was unlike Sarah's and Carolyn's in that Mallory's answer reached outside of her own lived experience and included a social level analysis regarding the impact of media messaging on real life opportunities for women, stating tha t "recently, ad campaigns seem to be changing to reflect women in a more positive light faster in some places and this is for sure impacting real life opportunities and possibilities offered to women/girls in their personal and professional lives." In her response, she included some relevant examples that demonstrated that she was thinking about the issue of the representation of women in the media at a pre critical/critical level of sociopolit ical development. Her response reached for explanations for, and solutions to, the inequality she perceived in the media's representation of women. Unlike Sarah and Carolyn, Mallory displayed pre critical and critical tendencies in her approach because she did not accept the problem of cri tical media literacy as be ing unsolvable; rather, she offered examples to show how the problem is being solved or resolved in other countries. In her analysis of Merchants of Cool Mallory explained that she watched the film with her husband and that it was like watching a "biography of our adolescent years" and it was "a blow to see that many of the things we thought were cool and esoteric at the time were actually

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88 preordained to be successful by media giants." In the program, several market researchers claim that parents c ontribute to the prominence of the teen market by giving them guilt money. The film suggests that in the absence of parental attention and love, teens are able to temporarily fill that emotional void by buying tangible things, like brand name clothing and shoes, or purchasing experiences such as expensive trips or concert tickets, and eating junk food. As a result, parents feel less guilty about spending more time at work,and it helps their teens forget and forgive the fact that they are lacking the quality time with their parents that all children need. The vulner abi l ity of young people to marketing messages is an important concept to grasp in regards to crit ical media literacy. The film makes the comparison between "cool hunters" and the colonial po wers in early U.S. history. For Mallory, the notion that the media eliminates the option of exerci sing free will was too far of a "stretch" and that "cool hunting is more of a capitalistic venture." This reaction felt adaptive to me, and in response, I pressed th e course participants to think more deeply about how the media exploits teens during a stage in their development when most ad olescents lack the judgment, confidence, and life experience necessary to make good decisions. Her reaction was again adaptive, st ating that "teens are more equipped to see through some of these marketing strategies" than they were in the past and the "recent rise of educating students in the fields of information and media literacies has, and will continue, to curb the level of teen susceptibility to media giants' advertising." This particular discussion thread grew heated as classmates disagreed with Mallory's responses (and those of others) regarding the vulnerability of teens. Mallory seemed to be exasperated by the problem at the end of the thread, stating that she would "like to think that today's media is not in the business of morality! But history has shown that sex, violence, and civil disobedience sells. How can we change this?" I could tell that Mallory's perspective was wi dening, but it worried me that she, along with other course partic i

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89 pants, seemed to make some progress in their sociopolitical development only to slide bac kwards. This tendency made me feel uneasy and I recognized that I was growing impatient with the stu dents' answers to the media deconstructions and threads. My impatience was evident in the discussion as I felt as though the class was avoiding the difficult topics and just writing an ything to make it seem as though they were being critical. In one post, I pushed the course partic ipants to dig deeper with a barrage of questions: Your answers are still surface level think long term think about psychological and physical effects of these messages that are received over, and over, and over. How have children 's purchasing power and influence increased, and why? Do you think it's reasonable to believe that people can be transformed, from the earliest ages, into life long consumers? Do you feel that there are, or should be, societal or moral reservatio ns about marketers approaching children at such early ages? What role and responsibility do you feel parents should have when it comes to addressing the commercialization of chil dhood? Is it fair to expect them to cope, on their own, with a billion dollar industry? Or should there be policies in place that help parents protect children from marketing? Why do you think the U.S. government has not taken an active role in protecting children from commercial culture? Do you see a difference between this issue a nd child labor laws or laws mandating that children wear bike helmets or protect children from the marketing of tobacco? Do you feel that voluntary guidelines, or so called "self regulation," by the youth marketing industry offers enough protection for chi ldren? Are self regulations working? Or do you see a need for stricter policies and regulations that limit marketing that directly targets children? Do you agree that we have become a nation that places a lower priority on teaching our children how to thri ve socially, intellectually, even spirit ually, than on training them to consume? Explain why or why not. This tactic really did not work as I had hoped it would and I inadvertently managed to complet ely shut down the conversation that week. Course partici pants got defensive rather than more e ngaged and I really felt like I had messed up. I tried to bring them back that week but it did not work. However, the next week, the course participants as a whole did show more effort in their answers. In particular, Mallory expressed in the discussion thread that in regards to challenging dominant ideologies, I 'm on the fence on whether it is or isn't the job of educators. After teaching abroad, I think educators need to be culturally

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90 sensitive, as well as cautio us, when making blanket statements about what is "right" and "wrong." I do believe that it is my job to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and safe. I've found that by grounding my classes in democratic discourse, students o f all age groups and grade levels start to gather information, form opinions and challenge dominant ideologies all on their own. The need for media literacy education becomes ever more apparent; I believe it is our duty to teach these types of life s kills and concepts. However, I do not necessarily think media literacy needs to be taught as a separate discipline, but rather through cross curricular lessons, projects and activities. It was not until the end of the course that I really saw evidenc e of Mallory 's growth; her final project was exceptional and our final interview indicated that she viewed the course as b eing very transformative. For her final project, she created an assignment for her middle school students titled "Media Deconstruction : Crisis in Syria." Her project included Guidelines for R espectful Discussion and gave notes to teachers about the potential triggers and feelings that might come up during difficult discussions. Her project also demonstrated a clear path to collaborating with her colleagues and provided exceptional cross curricular activities to introduce critical m edia literacy across the curriculum. I loved this project because it was innovative, focused on e mpathy building, and gave course participants the chance to tak e action by writing "op ed" pieces. As it was for Carolyn, the final project represented a major shift for Mallory in that it demo nstrated that she had attained a deeper level of understanding about the importance of inspiring social action when it comes t o teaching critical media literacy. At the beginning of the semester, Mallory had never heard of critical media literacy and viewed the media as a source of news and information. Mallory remained firmly acritical and adaptive throughout the semester but was able to reach outside of her own life experience and include social level analysis by the end. Mallory had a firmer grasp of the critical framework than either Sarah or Carolyn, but unlike them, she was not complacent about the problem and offered exam ples and ways to resolve it. From the final interview, it was evident that, like Ca r

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91 olyn, Mallory 's grasp of the material had evolved during her time in the course. By the end of our last interview, she was asking me about doctoral programs for critical me dia literacy, how to join and become an active member of the National Association of Media Literacy Education, and how I thought critical media literacy would be received overseas. Mallory clearly saw critical media literacy as a way to liberate people and "change people's lives in third world countries" and I sensed that she shared my feeling of urgency regarding the need for critical media literacy education. As with Carolyn, I was unable to see Mallory's transformation until the final inte rview a few wee ks after the course had ended. She told me that she viewed the course as pr ofoundly transformative and demonstrated huge leaps in her sociopolitical development when compared to her earlier media deconstructions and dialogue. Her interview responses pushed past the adaptive limitations of her earlier conceptions of critical media literacy and she seemed to be thinking about ways to solve the problem of media messaging at a deeply personal level, at a community level, and even on a global level. I asked Mall ory how the course changed her pe rspective in general and she stated that "it changed everything" for her and was "the most impac tful course" that she had taken in the program, noting that she was "always thinking about itIt was inspiring." In this inter view, Mallory showed that she had become able to perceive the importance of, and urgent need for, critical media literacy as it relates to education in the U.S. as an integral part of the curriculum. When I asked Mallory how she saw critical media literacy becoming a part of her professional, educational, or personal endeavors, she spoke about creating change on a global level. Mallory told me that she was very interested in earning her PhD in critical media literacy and wanted to work abroad because she di d not think that "anyone was really teaching this critical media literacy overseas." She was passionate about her desire to reach a global

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92 community and saw great potential for the development of underserved schools in other cou ntries. Mallory is already a ctive on a local level and it was clear to me that she understood the challenges of creating change in our current American education system. Nonetheless, she spoke of her desire to create spaces for critical media literacy across the curriculum because "i t's just something that needs to be integrated." In the process of creating Carolyn and Mallory 's portraits, I recognized that it takes time to develop and encourage a shift in sociopolitical development. Intellectually, I knew that lear ning takes time, but through this process I recognized my impatience as an educator and my desire that course participants "get it" faster than they were able. The results of an effective curriculum may not be apparent by the end of a course and formal assessment may miss what a student i nternalizes and applies to their lives well after the learning experience is complete. In an online environment in particular, I now see that I need to dedicate more time to creating safe spaces for course participants to engage in a dialog ue on race and gender bias. I also understand that I should have pushed the course participants to confront those issues sooner and with more care. Media literacy is not a one size fits all approach, and I should have been more deliberate in my questions a nd more patient regarding my expectations. At the beginning of the semester, I was not sure if Mallory was ever going to be comfortable talking about race and gender, but by the end of her interview, we were discussing potentially collaborating on a confer ence presentation in the coming year on this subject. Table 8 provides a brief summary of Mallory's responses and subsequent change in perspective and shifts in sociopolitical development as they relate to the media deconstruction assignment's questions "H ow might people different from me interpret this message.

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93 Table 8 Mallory Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Source: Participant Narrative: SPD/ML Code & Observ ations: Media Deco nstruction #1 ToysRUs ad People who did not have a great school experience or childhood might view going to Toys R Us as a heaven like experience for children. People who do not have children will recognize that they can go to Toys R Us if they need a present or gift for a child in their life." Acritical: Resource asy mmetry is ou tside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real diffe rences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience. Media Deconstru ction #2 Dodge Charger ad Some men might view the Charger as a place to call their own, perhaps as a mobile form of the man cave. Some people may view the Charger as a car to appease the stereotypical man's middle aged life crisis and more a ffordable way to escape the mundane routine of an ordinary life than a Porshe. Some pe ople may view this as evidence that long term relationships and marriage are boring. Some men might view this message as ev idence that all women nag, act demanding and are the needier partner in a relationship. Their women OWES them this car. Acritical: Resource asy mmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real diffe rences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience. Media Deconstru ction #3 Healthy Choice ad People who are not educated in healthy food/eating literacy would definitely get the wrong impression that these meals are pe rfectly healthy. The people look classy enough that if you don't know how to read the nutr itional information on the packaging you would totally think this product is good for you. This message empowers the healthy, wealthy, young and beautiful This message disempowers seniors as the daughter is ope nly slighting her mother's choices and attempt to hold on to her youth." Acritical: Resource asy mmetry is outside of awareness, or the existing social order is thought to reflect real diffe rences in the capabilities of group members. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience.

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94 Table 8, Continued Mallory Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Source: Participant Narrative: SPD/ML Code & Observations: Media Deco nstru c tion #4 Dove Real Women ad Real women are a variety of sizes and may better ident ify with the first model's size than the typical, stick thin models you see in traditional ads for beauty and fashion. Older women may better identify with the second mo del's age and hair color than the typical, air brushed youth featured in traditional ads for beauty and fashion. Minor ities might not identify with this ad as both women appear to be Caucasian. Many types of people might view the women's smiles as evidence they are happy and confident even though they don't look li ke traditional models used in advertising. Adolescents see all types of sizes and ages of women being featured and celebrated as beautiful. You do not need to conform to the media's definition of the ideal women to be beautiful. Again, minorities might not identify with this ad as both women appear to be Cauc asian. The invitation to "join the beauty debate" opens th ese industries up to everyone. Adaptive or Pse udo critical. I see an expanded lens in trying to show mu ltiple perspectives or address diversity in her analysis but her answers still show underlying assum ptions & stereotypes about groups. Lens is superficially poised as outside of experience. Media Deco nstru c tion #5 Scene from Disney's Austin & Allie sit com Adults might see this and think that high school has not changed a lot since they were students. Teens might be intrigued to see how their favorite characters deal with role reversal. Well, we don't know why t he teacher a ssigned the roles that he did, but just from this short clip I think they have simplified teen personas to the traditional roles of jock, cheerleader, nerd etc. Teachers are author itative and don't consider their students feelings. It's co mplic ated being a teen. I think this message is being sent because Disney wants to get good ratings and this type of show is what preteens expect high school to be like. I doubt older teens would watch this. Acritical: Resource asymmetry is ou tside of awareness or the existing s ocial order is thought to reflect real diffe rences in the capabi lities of group me mbers. In essence, it is a just world. Lens is poised as inside her own experience.

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95 Portrait VI: Matthew Matthew is a special education teacher with an undergraduate degree in cinema studies. Although this was his first course in the graduate program, Matthew conveyed that he was well versed in the critical approach of critical media literacy and that his goa l in taking the class was to become more efficient in his use of technology so that he could transform his classroom in order to support 21st century learning and digital citizenship. His definition of media literacy was aligned with my own and addressed c reating and analyzing media messages with a critical lens. Moreover, he indicated that he had "analyzed a lot of films" and possessed a familiarity and comfort with discussing "gender and racial bias." Matthew's knowledge of the media industry quickly beca me apparent as he was one of the few course participants that demonstrated critical level thinking with regards to the question of the authorship of the Toys"R" Us¨ advertisement. Matthew did not question the gender of the authors, as the other course par ticipants had done. Instead, he recognized that the advertisement was created by a "team of advertising executives, working directly for or hired by an outside firm for the Toys"R"Us¨ corporation." Matthew's knowledge of cinema also came through in his ana lysis as he had a lot to say about the strategies that were used in the advertisement to focus attention. It stood out to me that Matthew was very thorough and I appreciated the time he took to analyze each assignment. Music, quick cutting, reaction shots, and bright colors are all used. A sense of excitement is created via editing choices and the juxtaposition of the course participants' reactions when they are being told about leaves versus when they learn that they are going to Toys"R"Us. The pace of th e commercial noticeably quickens once they enter the store. The camera lingers on the children, highlighting their ecstasy and excitement. The vi deo's narrator also becomes more excited once the topic switches from leaves to Toys"R"Us¨. His tone of voice b ecomes agitated, almost manic in its intensity. The vi deo also implies that the drudgery of everyday life can be transcended via the interaction with and acquisition of external sensory stimulation devices (toys).

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96 Matthew was demonstrably more critical than his classmates in some aspects of his ana lyses, particularly in his ability to eagerly seek out new perspectives and to critique themes with a sharp eye for detail. However, I began to suspect early in our interactions together that Matthew was not e xpecting to learn anything new in this course. I came to recognize that Matthew's level of sociopolitical development fell short of what I would consider a truly critical lens due to two things he did throughout the semester. First, Matthew consistently di stanced himself from his answers responding in third person or using his perspective hypothetically rather than directly. Secondly, Matthew's focus remained on an insular interpretation of media messages that rarely considered their broad social impact. M atthew 's answers and responses to discussion questions were detached. It was not a lways clear to me if Matthew's answers and responses reflected his own beliefs or if he was sim ply answering hypothetically. For example, in his response to the Toys"R"Us¨ ad vertisement, he hypothesized how "a more analytic viewer, who some may characterize as cynical, might view the commercial." This cynical viewer, he explained might see the ad as a crass attempt to target children in order to turn them into brand loya l consumers. To such a viewer's eyes, the commercial functions as a tool designed to groom and condition the child to associate toys, indeed the very idea of what it means to have "fun," with Toys"R"Us¨. Matthew's passive responses made me think that he was reluctant to articulate what he believed to be right or wrong. His responses pointed out critical perspectives but his answers did not risk losing face because he was not personally tied to the response. I can only assume that this ada ptive techniqu e was used to protect himself from being criticized in the event that someone called him out on an answer, since he could always retort that he was merely speaking hypothetically.

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97 His response to the Killing Us Softly video trailer demonstrated a similar disconnect b etween what he observed and how he actually felt. I believe that the media equates masculinity with power. Specifically, the power to do whatever you would like to do in life. Were one to take a broad sample of the representation of masc ulinity in the media, one could conclude that, when you are a man, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible. Matthew's responses moved past ambivalence and became dismissive of arguments when it came to the analysis of the film, Merchants of Cool Mat thew pushed back against the arguments presented in the film by implying that because marketing has always existed, it does not have much of an impact. In the threaded discussion, Matthew stated that "Truthfully, I don't think that cool hunting' adversely affects the development of new ideas, music, art, etc. any more than it always has. Although cool hunting' may be a relatively new phrase, the concept behind it (fin ding out what young people like and then trying to sell it to them) is old hat." One of the threaded discussion questions asked course participants to compare the explo itation of colonial powers to the exploitation of the youth market. Matthew made the argument that the advertising teams in the film were "merely exploiting privileged teenager s with dispos able income" and that it was "common knowledge that advertisers are interested in making money more than acquiring power." In response, I made the argument that the critical question, in my opinion, was not whether or not advertisers are seeki ng power, but whether the system creates inequities or an imbalance in power regardless of whether or not it is a conscious action. Ma tthew responded that "the political factor related to power is not really as present in advertising to the extent that it is in colonialism." Again, I tried to emphasize that whether or not power is re cognized, the consequence is real. Marketing has a significant power over the minds of young people whether or not they the target market is aware of the exploitation. Matthew m ade the a r

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98 gument that J. Crew is more interested in selling their clothes to Caucasians and that it is "typical for companies to target their sales towards certain ethnic groups." The following dismissive statement gave the impression that Matthew did not think that the film was relevant and was more evidence to prove that Matthew seemed to be more interested in arguing his position than he was to being open to new perspectives or to finding solutions. Young people cannot escape [it]. It's on TV. It's hidi ng in their cell phones. It surrounds them 24/7. According to Common Sense Media (links to an external site), only 17% of 17 year olds read on a daily basis. Reading for fun has been replaced by cell phone u sage, which is rife with advertising. Thus, even when teens are doing something for e njoyment, to escape the confines of everyday life, they are still being marketed to. Additionally, although Matthew's view was not self centered, it was also not externally focused on what various perspectives could m ean on a broader social level. Like Sarah and Ca rolyn, Matthew was not really looking at the implications of media messages on a wider scale. His focus remained on individuals and how different individuals might interpret messages, but his interpretation n ever reached a level of analysis that considered the social impact. For exa mple, in response to the Disney television show, Matthew hypothesized about the reactions of those that might identify with some of the actors. I think Asian people might be offende d by this. The characterization is very stereotypical. He is presented as being quiet and shy and is also dressed in a nerdy fashion. I think Lat inas would be happy with the depiction of The Sleeping Beauty character. Instead of the pretty, white girl winn ing the role, it is given to a slightly overweight Latina, which is a nice reversal of the usual manner in which this scene would play out. Matthew's analysis identified that some people might be offended or empowered by the portra yals in the television s how but, what at first glance appears critical, is ultimately adaptive. Ma tthew's responses were noncommittal in that he appeared to say what he thought was the "right" thing to say in order to come across to others in a way that showed that he had conside red other

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99 perspectives. However, Matthew does this in a way that is passive and ambivalent and in a way that avoided addressing the wider consequence of offensive or stereotypical portrayals of race in the media. Another of Matthew 's tendencies was to com e across as arrogant and resistant feedback. His statements carried an air of superiority and conceit and gave me the impression that he felt he was "above it all." For example, I got the feeling that Matthew made a few enemies in class and put his classma tes on the defensive with this post: I could go on in this vein, but I am a bit old school' when it comes to sharing my personal life via social media. My personal life is my personal life and I do not like to let everybody in on it I do support s ocial media's power to inform, connect, and learn when it is used to share every intimate detail of one's life with the outside world, I lose interest. Mainly, I use Facebook to promote my writing, whether it be my blog or book, and to share items th at I find interesting, such as music. While my above diatribe might read as a scathing critique against those that do share their personal lives via Facebook, it is not my intent for it to be so. I fully respect others' right to use Facebook in this re gard, I just choose not to do so myself. This was another example of how Matthew's interactions with the course and its participants were less than open to new perspectives. He would provide answers and defend them with re asons and evidence, but he did s o in a way that sent the message that he was detached from the course and not interested in hearing feedback. His answers were well articulated and professio nal, but not accessible, and he seemed to try to use vocabulary that would impress others. For e xam ple; "Although the above assertion is a highly specific reference point, I do feel that it [is] emblematic of the larger point that Kellner and Share are making, mainly that a media literate student populace will be able to more effectively espouse their o wn viewpoints, which can affect change within the dominant ideology." In his final interview, Matthew stated that his "point of view was more refreshed' than changed" and that the activities where the course participants analyzed commercials were r e

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100 spons ible for "reinforcing the perspective that I already held regarding media literacy." Matthew admitted that he had not "engaged in many conversations about media literacy" since the course had concluded, but he did state that in the time since taking the co urse, he had taught one lesson directly related to media literacy, and that the course participants had enjoyed it and he definitely planned on doing it again. It was helpful to reconsider passive responses through this lens, which, at the beginning of the course appeared very critical, but when I really looked closely at his answers were actually adaptive and evasive. He often responded in a way that was nonco mmittal and confusing to his peers because although he might have said something that made it soun d as though he had considered other perspectives, he did it in a way that was vague enough to obscure how he truly felt about the question or argument. Matthew's portrait was an interesting one to create in that he was more critical than other course part icipants in many ways, but his receptiveness to new ideas or perspectives seemed li mited. Matthew's portrait revealed that his pre critical lens remained consistent throughout the s emester and showed no indication that he would seek liberation or action to wards finding sol utions to the problems created by media messaging. My overwhelming feeling throughout the s emester was that I was being "played," that he was faking his interest, and that he was telling me what I wanted to hear in order to get a good grad e. He obviously did not have to put much effort into the course and I do not think that he truly grappled with the questions or had any interest in doing so. I chose to embrace this as a learning experience and as an opportunity to strategize how to engage course participants similar to Matthew in a way that challenges their perspectives in a more innovative manner. Table 9 provides a brief summary of Matthew's responses and subs equent change in perspective and shifts in sociopolitical development as they r elate to the media

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101 deconstruction assignment's questions "How might people different from me interpret this me ssage.

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102 Table 9 Matthew Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Source: Participant Narrative: SPD/ML Code Media Deco nstruction #1 ToysRU s ad "Those who take commercials at face value would simply conclude that toys are good and might be persuaded to buy some for themselves or their children. Parents might be r eminded that they need to purchase toys for a child's birthday, Christmas, etc. and mi ght even view the toys as tools / distra ctors that can be utilized as a respite from the constant demand of child rearing. A more analytic viewer, who some may cha racterize as cynical, might view the commercial as a crass a ttempt to target children in orde r to turn them into brand lo yal consumers. To such a viewer's eyes, the commercial fun ctions as a tool designed to groom and condition the child to associate toys, indeed the very idea of what it means to have "fun," with Toys 'R Us.." Adaptive/Pseudo crit ical: Asy mmetry is acknow ledged, but the sy stem mining it is seen as immutable. Predatory, antis ocial or accomm od a tion strategies are employed to maintain a positive sense of self and to acquire social and material rewards. Media Deco nstruction #2 Dodge Charger ad "I think there are four distinct groups that would interpret this commercial in different manners. Each group would fit the advertiser's idea of the typica" subset, i.e. the stereotypical member of that group. Marr ied men would probably identify strongly with the commercial. They might also extend this thinking to rationalize any number of choices, from buying certain things, hanging out with certain people, engaging in certain activities, and failing to do non desi red tasks. Married women would probably feel a great deal of antagonism t owards this commercial. They also would see some of the mselves in the women who are being talked about and would most likely resent it. After all, they might reason, I don't ask my hu sband to do too much. How is carrying my lip balm such a big hassle? They might also think about the things that their husbands do that bother them, which could result in the ma rried women engaging in the same rationalizations of behavior that their husban ds are. Single men & Single Women are technically two different groups, I am including them in the same subset because I think that they would interpret the commercial in a very similar vein. Adaptive/Pseudo critical: Asy mmetry is acknow ledged, but the sy stem mining it is seen as immutable. Predatory, antis ocial or accomm od a tion strategies are employed to maintain a positive sense of self and to acquire social and material rewards.

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103 Table 9, Continued Matthew Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Source: Participant Narrative: SPD/ML Code Media Deconstruction #3 Healthy Choice ad "The target audience ( 25 35 year old Caucasian wor king professionals ) would identify with this commercial. They would find the depiction of the mother humorous, perhaps seeing parallels to their own relationships with their parents. The nice clot hes and fancy house are status symbols that would empower this group of people. I think that people above the age of 40 might find this commercial insulting. It devalues their worth, suggesting that people are at their peak when they are between 25 and 35 years old. These depictions of the two age groups serve the media maker's interests because it suggests that (1) if you eat Healthy Choice, you will be able to achieve the "ideal" lifestyle as personified by the young couple and (2) if you wish to reclaim the "ideal" lifestyle, like the mother, you can do so if you eat Healthy Choice." Ada ptive/Pseudo critical: Asy mmetry is acknowledged, but the system mining it is seen as immutable. Predatory, antis ocial or accomm odation strategies are employed to maintain a pos itive sense of self and to acquire social and mat erial rewards. Media Deconstruction #4 Dove Real Women ad "I think that older women would understand this me ssage as being a validation of their own beauty, despite, or because of their age. I think that the "plus size" woman (sorry if that is not the PC way to say it) might unde rstand the message as being a validation of their body type. Of course, the fact that their needs to be a vote to decide whether or not the older woman is "gorgeous" or the plus size woman is "fit" might be insulting to both groups of women. Hopefully, men might see this ad and reconsider their conceptualization of beauty. Sadly, I do not think that this is what would happen. I think most men would see this ad as being targeted towards women and ignore it. Younger women as well as those who fit within the parameters of what media makers have dete rmined are the standards for "beauty," might see the ad as unimpeachable proof of their own beauty. After all, the people at Dove have not deemed it necessary to conduct a poll to determine their beauty." Ada ptive/Pseudo critical: Asy mmetry is acknowledged, but the system mining it is seen as immuta ble. Predatory, antis ocial or accomm odation strategies are employed to maintain a pos itive sense of self and to acquire social and mat erial rewards.

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104 Table 9, Continued Matthew Sample Coding Matrix for Media Deconstruction Advertisement focusing on Media Literacy Question: How might people different from me interpret this message?' Source: Participant Narrative: SPD/ML Code & Observations: Media Deconstruction #5 Scene from Disney's Austin & Allie sit com "I think Asian people might be offended by this. The characterization of the "narrator" is very stereotypical. He is presented as being quiet and shy and is also dressed in a nerdy fashion. I think Latinas would be happy with the depiction of The Sleeping Beauty cha racter. Instead of the pretty, white girl winning the role, it is given to a slightly overweight Latina, which is a nice reversal of the usual manner in which this scene would play out. Interestingly, the white people are pr esented in the most stereotypical manner out of all the characters. There is the peppy, annoying cheerleader, the pompous, spoiled girl and boy, and the goody, goody tissues girl. I'm not sure that white teenagers, whom this show is aim ed at, would even pick up on any of this. Teachers, especially gym teachers might be offended by the depiction of the coach. Though the teacher is very positive, his casting decisions are pr esented as being ridiculous, which plays into the "clu eless teach er" characterization so prevalent in shows and movies aimed at the teenage market." Adaptive/Pseudo critical: Asy mmetry is acknow ledged, but the sy stem mining it is seen as immutable. Predatory, antis ocial or accommod ation strategies are employed to mai nta in a positive sense of self and to a cquire social and m aterial rewards.

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105 CHAPTER V CONCLUSION Summary The purpose of this study was to examine participants experiences in a graduate level critical media literacy course that introduced them to the concept of critical media literacy and critical theories about media. Lawrence Lightfoot's (1997) method of portraiture was used to uncover themes and capture each participant's perspectives as they relate to the two overarching research questions that fra med the investigation: do the participant portraits reveal gains in crit ical media literacy development? Second, at the end of the course, did the participants perceive the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)? If s o, how? Over an eight week, period four types of data were collected: participant course assignment and discussion content, questionnaires, reflective field notes, and individual interviews. From this data, a total of six portraits were completed: the cour se, the researcher, and four study partic ipants. The participant portraits that developed throughout the study were based on data gathered through personal interviews, the transcription of group discussions with classmates, by observ ation, and a review of course assignments, documents, and video narratives. From this data, a spects of each participant's experience in the course were analyzed, including: (a) the partic ipant's understanding of critical media literacy and general understanding of the nature of media; (b) how their understanding of, and perspectives on, media, critical media literacy, and sociop olitical development changed or did not change throughout the course; (c) their perceptions of the online discussion boards and dialogue that occurred th roughout the semester; and (d) their inte ntions for using (or not using) what they have learned in the course and whether they believe that their change in perspective will impact their teaching in the future. This data was woven into the

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106 participant portr aits to reveal key themes and significant contextual information and to provide an insightful and complete interpretation of the course experience. The portraits show that all of the participants demonstrated evidence of growth in terms of their critical media literacy by the end of the course. With regard to their sociopolitical deve lopment, growth was not evident for all of the participants; moreover, gains in critical media li teracy and sociopolitical development were not easily assessed as they did no t appear to occur in a linear or consistent way. Finally, there was a significant discrepancy between the observed and self reported gains in critical media literacy and sociopolitical development of the participants. The following discussion section prese nts the key themes that emerged through the analyses in regards to growth and transformation and as they relate to existing literature on sociopolitical development and critical media literacy. Taken together, these findings reinforce the importance of rec ognizing that growth, as it pertains to sociopolitical development and critical media liter acy, is nuanced and may include inconsistencies, regressive tendencies, and stagnancies and flu ctuation throughout the process of the development of critical conscio usness. Discussion Research Question One The first research question addressed whether the participants experiences indicated the development of critical media literacy. All of the participants in the course showed varying d egrees of gain in regards to critical media literacy. Hobbs and Frost (2003) argue that media lite racy growth can be successfully measured through intensive qualitative analysis of a student s ability to identify the purpose, target audience, point of view, and construction techniques along with their ability to recognize when information has been omitted. In addition, the Center for Media Literacy s framework measures acquisition of skills that build upon one another to predict

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107 a student s ability to engage in higher order, critical thinking (Arke & Primack, 2009; Ashley, Maksl, & Craft, 2013; Share, Jolls, Thoman, & Center for Media Literacy, 2010). The portraits revealed inconsistencies, regressive tendencies, and stagnancies and fluctuation throughout the process of sociopolitical development. Though Sarah s growth, in terms of critical media literacy development, seemed minimal, in the final interview she stated that the course helped her better understand that media messa ging can have negative social implications. Sarah s portrai t also revealed that she seemed to b elieve that nothing of consequence could be done about the perpetuation of negative stereotypes in the media. The portraits show that in terms of sociopolitical development, Sarah started the s emester at the acritical st age and only progressed to the pseudo critical stage. Although both Ca rolyn s and Sarah s responses to the media deconstructions were similar in their acritical and adaptive tendencies, I believe that Carolyn s critical media literacy comprehension, by the end of the course, showed a comprehensive understanding of the various ways to incorporate critical media literacy into her curriculum as a digital teacher librarian serving multiple age groups. Ca rolyn appeared to move from acritical to critical by the f inal interview. At the beginning of the semester, Mallory had never heard of critical media literacy and viewed the media as a source of news and information. Mallory 's portrait revealed that by the end of the course and the final interview, her understa nding of critical media literacy had grown significantly. Mallory expressed that she viewed critical media literacy as an urgent need and as a means of changing people's lives. Like Carolyn, Mallory shifted from acritical to critical by the end of the seme ster. Matthew presented himself as having a critical lens from the beginning of the semester, and stated that his "point of view was more refreshed' than changed" by the end, and that the

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108 activities where the course participants analyzed commercials wer e responsible for "reinforcing the perspective that I already held regarding media literacy." Despite this, his portrait revealed that the course also motivated him to implement a critical media literacy lesson for his middle school students. Matthew's por trait showed minimal development that really never shifted from where he started the semester at the pseudo critical level. Freire 's (1970) theory of critical consciousness argues that sociopolitical consciousness and action must exist in unison to form a pathway that creates social change. Watts and Hipolito Delgado (2015) noted that most programs designed to promote critical consciou sness and awar eness do not adequately prepare participants for social action thereby leaving participants with a lack of understanding of social action or a clear path for their involvement. The final curriculum projects were created to provide the partici pants with an opportunity to create relevant and timely lesson plans that they could implement in their classrooms. Although the final project was somewhat successful at promoting critical aspects of social functioning through analysis, evalu ation, and pla nning, the pathway between consciousness and action did not appear to be clear enough to promote visible growth and development in all of the participants. For example, Ca rolyn's sociopolitical development was not always apparent in her in class interactio ns, but her actions and enthusiasm were revealed in her final interview when she showed a strong desire to incorporate what she had learned from the course into her daily life in order to inspire change in her students and in others. Both Matthew and Sarah demonstrated a coherent understanding of the social ramifications of media messaging, however, this growth did not appear to result in a desire to impact social change, raise consciousness in others, or in any way act upon this new understanding. The disc onnect between Matthew's and Sarah's awareness and desire to act upon

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109 that knowledge signaled that their sociopolitical development and critical media literacy deve lopment did not progress. Research exists that shows a strong link between communication in online courses and student success (Brindley, Walti, & Blaschke, 2009; Jackson, Jones, & Rodriguez, 2010). Intr ospective examination of values and beliefs were important aspects of the course as race and ge nder biases were often discussed, creating value laden dialogue that may have been intimidating to some of the participants. Freire (2002) argued that dialogue presupposes equality amongst pa rticipants and that in order for knowledge to be created through dialogue, mutual trust and respect must be establ ished. Freire argued for the urgent need for critical dialogue and his "cultural ci rcle" provides a model of group discussion that encourages dialogue to formulate and seek actions together (p. 42). Mallory, in particular, avoided addressing topics of rac e and gender at the b eginning of the semester, but demonstrated a more confident and direct approach within her di alogue by the end of the semester. Sarah is another example of a participant who expressed in her final interview that she was very uncomforta ble engaging in dialogue about race, thus potentially limiting her opportunity for growth. Mae Gayle, Price, and Cortez (2013) argue that students perceive participation in discu ssions to be more dangerous as the complexity and emotionality of the materi al increases. Some argue that the desire to be liked, or looked upon favorably, can override the desire to express one 's true opinion (Edwards, 1957). Social desirability describes the tendency for some people to care more about making a good impression th an about objectively describing their actual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Mallory expressed in her final interview that the process of self reflection and the examination of values and beliefs felt emotionally uncomfortable; she stated that this was one of the reasons that some of her engagement in the course appeared su r

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110 face level. Social desirability, and its resulting acquiescence, are factors that may have impacted the participants' willingness or ability to express their true feelings; thus, pote ntially hindering their growth, or ability to take action, and affecting the ability of educators to measure said growth. Based on Watts, Griffith, and Abdul Adil 's (1999) five stage theory of sociopolitical d evelopment framework, transformation was expec ted to occur in a linear fashion. For example, the literature implies that an individual progresses from one level of sociopolitical development to the next in a relatively continuous manner. The participants in this study appeared to follow a more circula r, than linear, pattern of growth, with some portraits revealing periods of apparent gains in understanding followed by periods of regression. For Sarah, her sociopolitical and crit ical media literacy development seemed to stop altogether. Although I do fe el that Sarah made minimal gains in sociopolitical development at the beginning of the semester, her movement through Watts' stages of sociopolitical development and demonstration of critical thinking in r egards to critical media literacy appears to have s topped after the beginning of the second week. She continued to engage in discussions, but her sociopolitical development did not progress into a deeper level of critical thinking. The Center for Media Literacy 's framework measures the acquisition of med ia literacy skills in a similarly linear fashion in which skills build upon one another to predict a student's ability to engage in higher order, critical thinking (Arke & Primack, 2009; Ashley, Maksl, & Craft, 2013; Share, Jolls, Thoman, & Center for Medi a Literacy, 2010). In particular, Mallory and Carolyn's answers to the media deconstructions, threaded discussions, and feedback were inconsistent. From day to day, there was what appeared to be drastic fluctuation between su rface level, anecdotal particip ation, and deeper analysis.

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111 Research Question Two The second goal of this research was to understand if the participants perceived the course as changing their perspectives about media, and, if so, in what way(s)? The portrait anal ysis revealed that the participants did perceive their participation as changing their perspectives about media. After the course had ended and grades were turned in, I reached out to the partic ipants that had indicated at the beginning of the semester that they would like to be a part of the study and then arranged a time for a video call that was later transcribed. All participants e ngaged in a one on one discussion with me about their experiences in the class. By the time that the final interviews took place, all of the partic ipants stated that they saw their experience in the course as changing their perspectives about media to varying degrees. Sarah and Matthew e xpressed minimal transformation that expanded upon their basic understanding of critical media literacy. Mallory an d Carolyn expressed a more intense transformation by the final interviews, demonstrating a desire to take action and incorporate critical media literacy into their professio nal goals. The portraits revealed a consistent discrepancy between the participant s perception of their performance and my assessment of their performance in the course. Self reports of sociop olitical development, critical media literacy, and critical thinking were higher than what was pe rformed or demonstrated in the course. Although Carolyn and Mallory both expressed that they had experienced significant growth by the time the final interviews took place, their course pe rformance did not appear to show significant movement or gains in development or growth until after the course had f inished. Unfortunately, there is no existing literature that examines or e xplains the discrepancy between perceived and performed sociopolitical development and critical media literacy.

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112 Limitations Most limitations associated with this study relate to the uniquely nuanced method of po rtraiture. This study focused on a small, homogeneous sample of four students with similar bac kgrounds. Greater diversity might have allowed for the detection of group differences within the study that would be helpful informa tion for those teaching sociopolitical development and crit ical media literacy to different and more diverse groups. Although 30 students participated in the course only 4 choose to complete the study, meaning that some selection bias may have been present in this study. The process of portraiture, by design, requires subjective interpretation. It can be a ssumed that my expectations and bias might have impacted the design of the study and interpret ation of the evidence. Although the process of portraiture is a uniquely personal study method, there is little doubt that personal bias or the subjective nature of interpretation caused me to get things wrong. The fact that I was also the instructor of the course might also have led to undue influence for partici pants to opt in and might have colored my critique of the course design. Finally, the shortened timeframe and online environment might have limited the oppo rtunity for the students to develop sociopolitically. This shortened timeframe might have also a ffe cted my ability to adequately assess their sociopolitical development. as the interviews o ccurred not long after the course was completed thus limiting the time students had to process their learning upon course completion. As was stated by Tidwell (2002) students are more hes itant to engage in critical discussion in online environments, so the format of the course might have also hurt my ability to assess the growth of the participants if they censored their thoughts in the online discussions. In additio n, this course was not intentionally designed to develop their sociopolitical development.

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113 Implications Though this study did not set out to determine the implications regarding specific ped agogical practices for the development of critical media literacy skills, the experiences described by the participants, along with the critical media literacy and sociopolitical development liter ature, provide valuable considerations for educators teaching critical media literacy and other su bjects related to sociopoli tical development. This information can be used to inform teacher prep aration and professional development programs and to augment future research about critical m edia literacy education by providing important insight into the learning experiences of educa tors around critical media literacy. Expectations of Student Growth Although Watts, Griffith, and Abdul Adil's (1999) five stage theory of sociopolitical d evelopment linear framework model and the Center for Media Literacy's framework (2010) are helpful i n simplifying the process of sociopolitical development and critical media literacy d evelopment, based on the findings of this study it seems more likely that growth in sociopolitical development and critical media literacy does not occur in a consistently predictable linear way. Therefore, better consideration of the circular nature of sociopolitical development, critical m edia literacy, and critical consciousness would more adequately prepare educators and researchers for what they might face in the fiel d and help prevent educators from becoming frustrated by a pparent regression. Consideration should also be given to the notion that the results of an effective curric ulum may not be apparent by the end of a course and assessment may miss what a student in te rnalizes and applies to their lives well after the learning experience is complete as was the case with the participants in this study. As such, researchers and educators might consider holding off

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114 on determining their final evaluations of growth until a fter the course is over. Furthermore, ed ucators should ensure the courses are sufficiently long to provide students with enough time to demonstrate growth in their sociopolitical development. Encouraging and Supporting Critical Dialogue in Online Courses Developing and teaching sociopolitical development and critical media literacy in an online environment posed unique challenges to the course and may have created barriers to growth. A lack of dialogue and subsequent lack of growth could have been related to the impe rsonality of the online space. This course may have benefited from the incorporation of face to face time rather than adhering to a strictly online format. Those seeking to develop sociopolitical development and critical media literacy might con sider more hybrid (combination of face to face and online) course designs or incorporate activities to foster more authentic dialogue through the online medium. The impact of the online environment on the participants growth in the areas of sociop olitic al development and critical media literacy should be considered as important aspects of the student experience. According to Tidwell (2002), initial interactions between unacquainted ind ividuals through computer mediated communication are primarily focused on reducing anxiety and unknowns. Social information processing theory (Walther, 1992) suggests that while online, people often mediate tension between impression management and a desire to present an authe ntic sense of self through tactics that allow the m to present their ideal self. Though it would be impossible to entirely remove the bias of social desirability and acquiescence to maintain a f avorable impression, it is nonetheless an important consideration for researchers and educators (Johnson, 2014). More direct, or face to face, conversation may be necessary to promote soci o

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115 political development, in order to avoid this type of superficial discussion and to promote critical consciousness and critical media literacy. The short duration of the course m ay also explain the lack of depth in the discussions and the perceived lack of action apparent in the portraits. The course 's limited timeframe similarly limited our ability as a class to devote significant amounts of time to discussing value laden to pics thus damaging the ability of the participants to develop a rapport with one another. With this in mind, approaches to sociopolitical development and critical media literacy theories should work to identify the nuances of the relationship between critical c onsciousness and identifying the appropriate amount of time needed to develop, grow, and transform in those areas. Encouraging Action Although the final project was somewhat successful at promoting a pathway between consciousness and action, it may not ha ve been clear enough to promote visible growth. More insight is needed into the ways that educators can bridge gaps between awareness and action. Making the pathway to action more obvious and explicit may lead to gains and momentum in growth with regard to making sociopolitical development and critical media literacy more co nsistent and observable. Educators might consider implementing activities that encourage action by creating detailed action plans around sociopolitical goals and critical media literacy in their organizations and classrooms. In addition, explicitly discussing the sociopolitical framework ea rly in the learning process may encourage the development of an action based vocabulary to su pport growth. Assessing Growth It might be helpful for t eachers to consider that what a student takes away from a course may not always be evident in a teacher s analysis if the teacher does not engage the student in

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116 self refection or follow up after the class to determine what the participants did with what th ey learned; this can be used as an additional tool for assessing growth. Educators and researchers might also consider periodic assessments of sociopolitical development and critical media liter acy to document growth. In particular, self assessment gives p articipants a chance to reflect on their growth and whether they have attained their learning goals. Educators might consider i mplementing activities that encourage self reflection directed at examining one s growth throug hout the semester, or creating det ailed action plans around sociopolitical goals and critical media literacy in their organizations and classrooms. In addition, researchers should consider impl ementing an individual follow up assessment for sociopolitical development and critical media lit eracy to provide an additional measure. Future Research Additional research is necessary to validate the results of this study. The nature of this study, which was to look closely and in depth at a small group of graduate students, revealed i mportant insight into the challenges of teaching and assessing successful sociopolitical develo pment and critical media literacy pedagogy. A number of important considerations were revealed that call for the attention of future researchers. The fields of sociopolit ical development and crit ical media literacy research and pedagogy would benefit from more in depth investigations into the relationship between self reports of transformation and research findings. Though this is not addressed in the research, connections to this type of discrepancy in other fields of study could also be investigated. Current research on sociopolitical development and critical media literacy do not ad equately address the unique challenges presented by teaching in an online environment. A s this study revealed, the online environment may have contributed to a lack of engagement and di a

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117 logue; therefore, more research into online pedagogy and the development of critical consciou sness is needed. In addition, because it is unclear whether or no t the research findings reflect a participant 's desire to be socially accepted, a lack of understanding, or apathy, more research is needed to investigate ways of controlling for these factors in the teaching of sociopolitical deve lopment and critical medi a literacy. Also, research into what constitutes adequate time to address concepts like sociopolitical development and critical media literacy may help educators design more appropriate pedagogies around sociopolitical development and critical media litera cy, or any course that involves value laden and critical pedagogy. This study revealed that sociopolitical development and critical media literacy can occur in a non linear fashion. Additional research is needed to determine the applicability of differen t models of critical consciousness development and how those may or may not relate to sociopoli tical development and critical media literacy. This study provides evidence that more research is needed into identifying specific strategies or interventions in courses that might promote soci opolitical development, critical media literacy development, and critical consciousness. Conclusion The purpose of this study was to uncover themes and capture the participants perspe ctives as they related to the two overarching research questions that framed the investigation: (i) did the participants' experiences indicate the development of critical media literacy?; and (ii) did the participants perceive their participation in the course as changing their perspective s about media, and if so, in what way(s)? This study found that all of the participants demonstrated ev idence of growth in terms of critical media literacy by the end of the course. This study also found that growth in regards to sociopolitical development was not obviously revealed for all of

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118 the participants; moreover, gains in critical media literacy and sociopolitical development were not easily assessed as they did not appear to occur in a linear or consistent way. This study found that there was a sig nificant discrepancy between the observed and self reported transformative aspects of the course. This study also found that growth, as it relates to sociopolitical develo pment and critical media literacy, is nuanced, and may include inconsistencies, regre ssive tende ncies, and stagnancies and fluctuation throughout the process of the development of critical co nsciousness.

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126 Morgan W., & Streb, M. (2001). Building Citizenship: How Student Voice in Service Learning Develops Civic Values. Social Science Quarterly (82) 1 154 169. San Francisco, CA: Wiley Blackwell. Morrell, E., & Duncan Andrade, J. (2006). Popular culture and critical media pedagogy in secondary literacy classrooms. International Journal of Learning 12 (9), 273 280. Open Journal Systems. Public Kno wledge Publishing Services, Simon Fraser University. Morrell, E., Duenas, R., Garcia, V., & Lopez, J. (2013). Critical media pedagogy: Teaching for achievement in city schools. Language & literacy New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Morse, J. M. (1994). Designing funded qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.). Handbook of qualitative research. (pp. 220 235). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Mustakova Possardt, E. (1998). Critical consciousness: An alternative pathway for positive personal and social development. Journal of Adult Development, 5(1), 13 30. Springer International Publishing. New York, NY. National Association for Media Literacy Education. (2007). Core principles of media literacy education in the United States Available at: https://namle.net/publications. Accessed on 1/12/16. Newman, I., Ridenour, C. S., Newman, C., & DeMarco Jr, G. M. P. (2003). A typology of research purposes and its relationship to mixed methods. Handbook of mixed methods in social and beha vioral research 167 188. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publis hing. Nielson. (2014). The total audience report: Q4 2015. Published online March 24, 2015 via http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2016/the total audience report q4 2015.html Onwuegbuzie A.J. & Leech, N. (2005) The Role of Sampling in Academic Research. Academic Exchange Quarterly Fall. Stuyvesant Falls, NY. Palfrey, J. G., & Gasser, U. (20 08). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives Basic Books. Patton, M.Q. (1990) Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods. Sage Publications, Inc; 2nd edition. Pew Research Center. (2012). Digital divides and bridges: Te chnology use among youth. Authors: Zickuhr, K., & Smith, A. Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Washington, D.C.

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129 Watts, R. J., Griffith, D. M., & Abdul Adil, J. (1999). Sociopolitical development as an antidote for oppression theory and action. American Journal of Community Psychology, 27 (2), 255 271. Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company. San Francisco, CA. Watts R.J., & Hipolito Delgado, C.P. (2015) Thinking Ourselves to Liberation?: Advancing Sociopoliti cal Action in Critical Consciousness. The Urban Review (47) 5, 847 867. Springer International Publishing. New York, NY. Watts, R. J., Williams, N. C., & Jagers, R. J. (2003). Sociopolitical development. American Journal of Community Psychology 31 ( 1 ) 185 194. Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company. San Francisco, CA. WGBH Educational Foundation. (2001). Frontline PBS. Merchants of Cool: A Report on the Creators and Marketers of Popular Culture for Teenagers Original air date February 27, 20 01. WGBH Educational Foundation. (2014). Generation Like. Frontline PBS, Digital Nation. Original air date February 27, 2014. Wolfe, T. (1965). The new life out there. McLuhan: Hot & Cool. New York: The Dial Press, Inc New York: Roaring Fork Press. Worsnop, C. M. (1994). Screening images: Ideas for media education Wright Communications, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Zimmerman, M. A., & Zahniser, J. H. (1991). Refinements of sphere specific measures of perceived control: Development of a sociopolitical control scale. Journal of Community Psychology 19, 189 204. Zion, S., Allen, C., & Jean, C. (2015). Enacting a Critical Pedagogy, Influencing Teachers Sociopolitical Development. Urban Review, 47, 914 933. Spring Science and Business Media. New York, NY. Zion, S., York, A. & Stickney, D. (Spring 2017). UNDER REVIEW. Bound Together: White Teachers/Latinx Students Revising Resistance In Elmesky, R., Yeakey, C, & Marcucci, O. Eds. The Power of Resista nce: Culture, Ideology and Social Reproduction in Global Contexts. U.K.: Emerald Press.

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130 APPENDIX A PRE COURSE QUESTIONNAIRE This survey is part of a research study about the experiences of teachers as they learn about m edia literacy education. We are looking at two aspects of this experience: first, if teachers see their participation in the course as changing their perspectives about media, and if so, in what ways; and second, if a teacher's experiences reveal the development of critical media litera cy. The su rvey only takes a short time to complete, and your responses will be anonymous and confidential until the course is officially complete and grades have been submitted. Participation in this study is NOT a requirement of this course. Your choice t o participate in this study will in no way be reflected in your grades. SHORT ANSWER ESSAY QUESTIONS: 1. Describe an ideal learning environment for yourself. For your students? What factors are important for a favorable learning environment? 2. Describe a time when you experienced a learning experience that was transformational. 3. What role do teachers and families play in developing a learning environment that meets the needs of today's students? 4. What is your definition of "critical thinking"? 5. Ho w do you define "media"? 6. What is your definition of "media literacy" or "critical media literacy"? 7. Are you currently teaching media literacy in your classroom or library? If so, describe your approach. If not, describe why, if applicable. 8. Describe a time when you were a media "creator" and a time when you were a media "consumer." 9. How much influence does media have on your life? On the lives of others? Explain your reasoning. 1. What do you feel are the most important skills required of children to be succes sful in contemporary society? 2. What competencies are essential to becoming a powerful communicator in contemporary society? 3. Are you familiar with the concept of "media literacy"? Yes No 4. If yes, in your own words, how would you define "media literacy"? 5. Do you have a computer at home? Yes No 6. Do you have access to the internet at home? Yes No 7. How many hours a week do you generally spend: a. On the internet i. For education/school/work ii. In your free time a. Watching TV (not on your computer) b. Reading books, magazines, or newspapers i. In print

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131 ii. Online c. Playing games (online, on your cell phone, on a game system, i.e., Wii, Xbox, etc.) 1. On average, how many hours a week do you spend on a. Facebook b. Twitter c. YouTube d. Other social networking sites e. Online groups (Google Gro ups/Yahoo Groups) f. Message Boards g. Blogs h. Games (online, on your cell phone, on PlayStation, Wii, Xbox, etc): i. By myself ii. With other players i. Blogging (Blogspot, WordPress, Blogger, etc.) j. Podcasting k. Other online activities (specify) 2. In regards to the activities mentioned above, how frequently did you share information, ideas, or opinions? Often Sometimes Rarely Never 3. In regards to the activities mentioned above, or when you post comments on websites, do you provide additional facts and information or share website links with other pe ople? Often Sometimes Rarely Never 4. How often do you create projects that use video, audio, music, photographs, etc. outside of school or work time? Often Sometimes Rarely Never

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132 APPENDIX B MEDIA DECONSTRUCTION EXAMPLES Toys"R"Us¨ Advertisement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfnuFrE5_M0 The advertisement is described by the company as follows: "Toys"R"Us¨ made the wishes of kids come true by taking them to Toys"R"Us¨ and giving them anything they wanted. Making their dreams come true just in time for the holidays.

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133 Images of advertisements from Killing Us Softly Trailer: http://www.jeankilbourne.com/videos/

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134 APPENDIX C ONE ON ONE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS The goal of this interview is to further add to, or better explain, the answers given to the original survey questionnaires and try to probe deeper. 1. Since you have taken this course, in what ways do you think your ideas or points of view have changed? (F or example, your ideas about teaching, media literacy, learning, or media in general may be topics of change.) 2. What did the course have to do with your ideas or views changing? a. Is this change related to thinking about teaching and/or how you will t each media literacy? b. Is this change related to thinking about your own relationship and behaviors around, or with, media? c. Did anything/anyone help or support you as you went through the changes? d. What kind of assistance/support woul d have been helpful as you experienced this change? 3. Do you have any needs or concerns at this time? Follow up interview protocol adapted for use by Deirdre J. Morgenthaler and originally deve loped by Kathleen P. King, 1998 2009. All rights reserved Contact email: TransformationalEd@gmail.com

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135 APPENDIX D SAMPLES FROM CODING SPREADSHEETS

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