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MCOM 391 - Media for Social Change - Janice Windborne

Abstract:
Media for Social Change, MCOM 391, relies on the theories of psychologist Albert Bandura (1961) and telenovela writer, Miguel Sabido (1965). Entertainment media is crafted to teach target audiences vicariously. Six senior-level college students from three different departments participated. The goal was to teach/encourage pro-social behavior specific to the needs of the target audience-local high school students. The college students conducted focus groups with high school students from Westerville North who had completed a course in Sociology. In total, about fifteen high schoolers participated in biweekly focus groups. Some attended once, others became part of the Youth Advisory Team. A series of four radio dramas about sexual decision-making-the topic chosen by the focus groups-- were created and aired and posted on radio station, WOBN, a favorite of Westerville high school aged students. The Youth Advisory Board critiqued the programs throughout; shows were changed according to their direction.

Partnership and Collaborative Development
Collaboration between college students who got to use their skills and talents with high school students who were, in fact, the experts, was enlightening for the college students and empowering for the high schoolers.

Milestone #1: The first focus group. Even though the college students are only a few years older than the high schoolers, they quickly realized they had much to learn about the lives and concerns of the high schoolers. We all had to adjust our expectations and assumptions to the priorities and viewpoints of the high school students. Understanding this, the high school students became bolder and more willing to "own" the conversation.

Milestone #2: The second to last focus group. The college students worked very hard on scripts for the radio dramas. They were very ego invested in them and not willing to hear criticism from the professor. They also were not willing to put much attention to detail. When we met with the Advisory Board, the high school students pulled the scripts apart, pointing out places that were unrealistic, badly worded, or otherwise inappropriate. The high school students were very confident about their opinions, and the process helped the college students critique their own work and make it better.

Milestone #3: University students' attitude. The focus group critique was a painful but helpful learning experience for the college students. After the meeting, they were more professional and more willing to put more thought and work into their product.

Milestone #4: Conversation with the school department. I had a conversation with one of the school administrators for Westerville, who, after this project, is more willing to discuss a shared project that might include all of the local high schools.

Evaluation
  • Collaboration between high school and college students for a tangible, broadcast-worthy product
  • Understanding by college students of concepts of target audience
  • Practice with focus groups and audience feed back
  • Clear methods and steps for creating entertainment education projects
  • A program with an entertaining content that addresses important issues for target audience
  • A pilot project for further classes
Stories and Successes
This was a pilot class. The most successful part of the class was having one developmentally disabled person on the college team and one on the high school team with seamless participation. Hopefully, further success stories will come with continuation of the class.

Listen to "Good Morning, Eastville High."

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