Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 2117-2126
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Media, including audiovisual materials, are seen as a popular way of fostering education and improving the quality of lessons in formal education settings. But detailed research on learners’ perceptions of audiovisual materials in educational settings is lacking. Media producers and educators have little feedback on how specific educational film content affects learners and less still based on real classroom experiences. Additionally, a gender gap is stated in terms of interest for science education: Girls show significantly less interest in scientific studies than boys. Taken together, this strengthens the necessity to have a closer look at the requirements of educational science media to effectively enhance interest in science for both boys and girls, especially for the 14 – 19 year age group, a time when future schooling decisions are made. Our study, which focuses on the process of learners watching educational science films, is a first step in identifying relevant audiovisual media content that can positively affect classroom learning experiences.

The study, embedded in a realistic classroom setting, included 41 learners aged from 14 to 17 years. To investigate perceptions of educational science film content we chose a science film specifically produced for usage in the classroom. Learners’ perceptions were measured by a methodological mix: First, individual electronic feedback controllers measured each learner’s opinion in real-time. Second, after watching the film learners evaluated the quality of the film through a questionnaire (e.g. if the film was entertaining, understandable, etc.). Additionally, they indicated their level of motivation to learn more about the scientific topic as well as their level of interest to watch further science films in the classroom.

Our findings support the assumption that the learning experience is not only dependent on the film’s content but also on the gender of the learners. Whereas certain film content provokes overall positive (e.g. animations) or negative (e.g. unappealing interviewed experts) responses, there are others that are clearly perceived differently by boys and girls. This is especially the case for specific biological scientific procedures (e.g. animal experiments). Whereas boys exhibit pleasure watching such scenes, girls react in an opposing manner. Moreover girls’ real-time responses are persistently more critical than boys’. The general evaluation after watching the film supports this result: Boys tend to evaluate educational science films in the classroom more positively than girls and are more motivated to watch further educational science films. Surprisingly, however, despite girls’ more critical and negative evaluation of the educational science film, they tend to gain more interest in the presented scientific topic than boys. Implications are discussed.
Educational media, real-time response, learning experience, interest in science, science films, gender, media effect.