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Purposeful Use of Film within
the Classroom:
Encouraging Student
Engagement
Presented by Mandy Latz
27 February 2009
3
rd
Annual Learning College Conference, Ivy Tech Community College
Presentation Agenda
 Overview of film use inside classrooms
 Items to consider
 Examples in a variety disciplines
 Think-Pair-Share Activity
Why this topic?
 My own in-class film use
 Integration of film via Blackboard
discussions
 Need to articulate rationale
 Student feedback
 Better than me
Advocacy for Film Use
 Meets students where they are
 Is Google Making Us Stupid?
 Brings course concepts to life
 Variation in messenger
 Provides a common experience to draw from
 Leads well into various learning activities and
assignments
Quotation
“…instructors must learn,
and in turn teach their
students, how to make
movie viewing a meaningful
and active educational
experience” (Sprau, 2001,
para. 10).
Purposeful Use
 Why are you showing the film? What is the
purpose?
 What learning outcomes are associated
with the film?
 How will you measure the intended
outcomes?
 Link film use with activity, assignment,
discussion, etc.
 Integrate film with course content
Quotation
“…film in educational
settings is often relegated to
filler material for
overworked, underprepared,
or absent instructors”
(Sprau, 2001, para. 10).
Considerations in Selection
 Documentary versus
fiction
 Full length versus clips
 Length of class
 Method of presentation
Documentary versus Fiction
 Hollywood movies
 Novel and appealing to students
 Easy to find
 Students may perceive fiction as reality
 Documentaries
 May be hard to find
 Closer to reality but may be historically or
politically bias
 Should be viewed critically
Quotation
“One of the dangers of using feature film is that
students often confuse what they see in it with
the truth or attribute to a film the factual
characteristics of a documentary. Although most
films are not documentaries, they can carry
great emotional power while delivering truths
that reality obscures, as has been said about
fiction. This emotional power can be a catalyst
for thinking and learning. It is important to
remember, however, that films are a starting
point, not an end in themselves” (Harper &
Rogers, 1999, para. 5).
Examples of Learning Activities
 Historical fiction
 Popular
 Is it accurate?
 Feature films in the psychology classroom
 Diagnosis, identification
 Rewriting the documentary from a different
perspective
Specific Examples of Films
Full Length versus Clips
 Consider the class time you have
 Consider the actual full length of the film
 Watching the whole film may be boring
 Clips can overcome lack of class time to show
entire film
 Clips can be extracted to display particular
character, scene, or concept
 Clips can be difficult to manage
 Go back to the overarching purpose of showing
the piece
 YouTube, Google Video, other websites (PBS)
Crafting Learning Activities
 Some questions to consider…
 What are you trying to achieve (in terms of
student learning) by showing film?
 How can you “stretch” your students?
 How can you help them to think critically?
 How can you enable them to use a variety of
skills (writing, speaking, building)?
 How can you help students enjoy the
process?
Using the New Bloom’s
 Building on remembering and
understanding
 Enabling students to create
Using Kolb’s Cycle
 Moving from concrete experience
(watching) to active experimentation
(creating a new film)
Quotation
“…an instructor, in selecting
learning activities to correspond
with each of the four poles of the
experiential learning model, must
give greater consideration to the
functional use of the activity than
to the activity itself” (Svinicki &
Dixon, 1987, p. 144).
Personal Example from ANTH 154
 The Observation Exercise
Think-Pair-Share
 How have you used films in your
classrooms in the past?
 What types of learning activities have you
linked with film viewing in the past?
 Brainstorm a new use of film within a class
you are currently teaching
 Create a short list of films to use
 Create a learning activity for students that
blends the film and your course content.
 Can you describe your activity in terms of the
New Bloom’s or Kolb’s Cycle?
References
 Harper, R. E., & Rogers, L. E. (1999). Using
feature films to teach human development
concepts [Electronic version]. Journal of
Humanistic Counseling, Education &
Development, 38(2).
 Sprau, R. (2001). I saw it in the movies:
Suggestions for incorporating film and
experiential learning in the college history survey
course [Electronic version]. College Student
Journal, 35(1).
 Svinicki, M. D., & Dixon, N. M. (1987). The Kolb
model modified for classroom activities. College
Teaching, 35(4), 141-146.
I appreciate your attendance!

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