Using Film to Teach Communication Concepts at University

By Heather Kavan and Jacqui Burne.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Educational research in diverse fields shows the value of using film to demonstrate concepts. However, lecturers may not have time to find appropriate material and are often left to guess what works best to maximise learning. Our project involved collecting 2-7 minute clips from different film genres to illustrate communication concepts.

We found that the most fruitful source of clips was documentaries, and popular television series were also useful for specific themes. However, the strongest student preference was for material filmed in their own geographical location. We offer recommendations, both for collecting clips and for using them to maximise learning. While incorporating film did not in itself fulfil the noblest aims of higher education, it had distinctive benefits. The key to ensuring its value was to include it in structured discussions and assessments.

Keywords: Film, Communication, Distance Learning, Tertiary Education

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp.429-440. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.284MB).

Dr. Heather Kavan

Lecturer, Department of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Dr Heather Kavan began work as a speech writer, and has a background in writing, editing, research, world religions, and developmental psychology. She holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Victoria University, New Zealand, and currently lectures at Massey University (also in New Zealand). In 2007 she created Massey’s popular Speech Writing course, and in 2008 she won a Vice Chancellor’s award for sustained teaching excellence. Heather mainly publishes in the area of new religious movements, in which she does ethnographic research.

Jacqui Burne

Student Learning Centre, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Jacqui Burne has a Masters degree in Education, endorsed in Adult Education. She currently works as a Writing Consultant at the Student Learning Development Service at Massey University, assisting students with academic writing and study skills.

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