Watch This Clip: Using Film as an Augmentation to Lecture and Class Discussion

By Parker, Richard D. | Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Watch This Clip: Using Film as an Augmentation to Lecture and Class Discussion


Parker, Richard D., Academy of Educational Leadership Journal


INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW

As technology continues to enhance the development of business education in institutions of higher learning (e.g. the abundance of Microsoft PowerPoint presentations being used across all business disciplines; increased online course offerings; et cetera) and professors continue to deal with students who have grown up with the Internet, video games, television and movies as central parts of their lives and therefore expect the utilization of technology in the classroom, it becomes increasingly important to note there will be challenges for effectively teaching basic and advanced business concepts in the 21st century. Professors increasingly must deal with students who are easily distracted in class and who may be more technologically savvy overall. By employing clips from popular films and television shows business professors may be able to enhance their connections with students in the classroom and illustrate concepts that may be difficult for some students to appreciate such as customer service, professionalism in meetings or leadership techniques.

The notion of using film as an effective teaching tool has been recognized for many years by scholars in numerous disciplines. Professors and instructors in history, political science, human development, psychology, family counseling, social work, physics, astronomy, advertising, marketing and management have successfully used film in their classes to enhance their pedagogies. The practice of using film to enhance university level education reaches beyond the shores of North America; universities in Great Britain are also using film to augment teaching techniques (Johnston 2001).

The idea of using film in business education dates back to the mid-20th century, when Ohio State University professor W.J. Fleig (1950) argued that "movies make it possible to bring to students types of industrial activities which are foreign to their locality. The films may be presented during regular class hours and can be tied in with a class discussion. All or part of a film may be repeated if desired." Although Fleig was arguing for the use of films produced by corporations not motion picture studios, his points are salient in the 21st century when considering the use of popular cinematic productions. The use of film as a teaching tool has been implemented in a variety of disciplines for many years. The consideration of how other disciplines outside of commerce and business may provide valuable insights as to the benefits of using film to those who teach in traditional business areas.

Several studies detail the advantages of using film in the classroom. The use of popular film as a "framing tool" is noted in scholarly articles (Higgins and Dermer 2001; Harper and Rogers 1999). The alternative to additional reading assignments is also noted by several researchers (Weinstein 2001; Higgins and Dermer 2001; Huczynski and Buchanan 2004). The most praised advantage is the ability of film to stimulate discussion and thinking on the part of the students (Huczynski and Buchanan 2004; Boyer 2002; Higgins and Dermer 2001; Weinstein 2001; Harper and Rogers 1999; McPherson 2001; Witze 2004).

In psychology and counseling literature, the use of film as an effective teaching tool is noted. Higgins and Dermer (2001) point out that "films can demonstrate difficult-to-teach concepts." Harper and Rogers (1999) reported that "films can dramatize and enlarge theoretical issues in ways that clarify and promote discussion." Christopher, Walter, Marek and Koenig (2004) effectively teach students about stereotype formation and prejudice using the 1985 John Hughes film The Breakfast Club.

The University of Central Florida offers a course to non-science majors entitled "Physics in Films" (Witze 2004). "More than four-fifths of one class surveyed said it was more interesting than the standard physical science course" (Witze 2004). Other colleges have instituted similar courses for non-science majors that are interdisciplinary (Borgwald and Schreiner 1994). …

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