Date of Award

Spring 1992

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Thorn, William J.

Second Advisor

Monfils, Barbara S.

Third Advisor

Leonard, Richard H.

Abstract

Revolutionary technological advances are creating an expansion of human communication, especially through the use of the mass media. Through the use of computers, data banks, lasers, digital technology, and other electronic technology exposure to mass media messages is greater than ever before. The developments and expansion of the mass media alter the way we communicate with each other and affect our language. At a time when young people are exposed to more media messages than ever before, they are given little guidance in how to read, interpret, and critically evaluate the images and information to which they are exposed. Acquiring media literacy skills will equip students with the ability to be discerning, critical users of the mass media. Elementary and secondary schools play an important role as social institutions and socializing agents by helping students gain mass media literacy as part of their preparation for productive citizenship in the 21 st Century. Mass media literacy, enables teachers and students to challenge the inequalities in knowledge and power that exist between those who manufacture information in their own interests and those who consume it innocently as news and/or entertainment. The time has come when schools must acknowledge the role, form, and function of the mass media in society. Teachers who fail to integrate media literacy into the high school curriculum deny their students the skills needed to understand the form and content of the communication technology of their society. This study determined: whether teachers perceived the need to include the study of the mass media within the high school curriculum; how often and to what extent mass media instruction is part of the current curriculum; how the study of mass media should be structured within the high school curriculum; how prepared are Wisconsin's secondary English/Language Arts teachers to instruct students about the mass media; and how important is it for high school students to develop the ability to critically analyze and interpret mass media messages.

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