There is a dearth of solid evidence in the field of media education about learning and learning progression. What evidence there is tends not to take enough account of prior, informal learning; in particular there is a lack of attention to what children may have learned about the media before they start school. This has led me to my PhD topic, which starts from the hypothesis that, from an early age, children must be acquiring some understanding of the distinctive codes and conventions employed in moving-image media (mostly without much adult mediation), and will be starting to develop their own strategies for making sense of all kinds of text.
Here are some other research projects that I've been involved in:
Persistence of Vision
I was project leader of this Media Education Association initiative, jointly funded by the UK Film Council’s education strategy "Film: 21st Century Literacy", by Creativity Culture and Education, and by three local authorities: Devon, Norfolk and Worcestershire. From 2009-10, it explored the ways in which primary school children can learn about animation, by providing training and resources for their teachers, ensuring that the children involved had repeated experiences of critical viewing and creative activity, and by encouraging the schools involved to make links between animation and poetry.The report is available here.
I was part of a team led by Professor Jackie Marsh, and funded by the (now closed) Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, in which the universities of Sheffield and Nottingham, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) and the British Film Institute (BFI) followed up the BFI's film and literacy initiative (see Projects for more on this) to investigate what is involved in learning to acquire and understand key elements of film language, what the relationship is between this learning and other literacies, and how both teachers and pupils develop their subject knowledge in this area. This project is reported in the UKLA publication Beyond Words (Bazalgette and Bearne 2010).
Learning about Broadcast News
Ofcom funded this eight-month study to identify learning outcomes achieved through BBC News School Report, an initiative which began in 2006. The BBC aims to provide opportunities for Year 8 children (ages 12-13) in UK schools to learn about news production. The research team, which was completely independent from the BBC, selected as case studies three schools who were involved in School Report, and interviewed selected pupils before and after the project, as well as observing activities in the schools on 22nd March, the day on which participating schools all did news projects which were linked to a national website. The research report was completed in August 2007 and is published by Ofcom under the title Lifeblood of Democracy? Learning about Broadcast News. Click here to see the research report.
This year-long project by the BFI and the National Foundation for Educational Research was funded by Creative Partnerships and reported in April 2007. The project aimed to identify the distinctive learning outcomes associated with moving image eduation. Nine case studies were selected, representing a range of types of school in different Creative Partnership areas, and selected pupils in each school were interviewed before and after their school's Creative Partnership project. The research team also observed activities during each project. Click here to see the research report.