|Many products marketed on
television and in print advertisements claim to have scientific
evidence of their effectiveness
and/or have undergone some type of rigorous testing of the product's
purported benefits. Though the products are tested and
statements reviewed by the FDA, companies have great leniency in the
USA in regards to supposed salutory effects of products.
Students, therefore, need to be informed when purchasing
products. The PBS
website suggests that teachers have students study food
labels and pharmaceutical ads as part of their media education in
health and science. Food products that portray pharmaceutical
benefits are increasingly common and not well regulated. Weaver
(2009) suggests that curriculum include opportunities for students to
not only analyze media, but also view media as an alternitive to text
only. In this lesson students can take advertisements (print and
video) from their media experiences outside of school into
school. Students are therefore engaged in questioning aspects of
the world they live in.
This lesson can be incorporated into a unit on either the scientific
method or nutrition. Computer technology is used in class to help
bring parts of student popular culture into the classroom.
Students are engaged when using their own computer and the teacher
can utilize a projector to show media to a class all at once as
well. The lesson, overall, is flexible and can be used in several
instructional settings though the focus here is middle level
science. Also, the lesson can be used in part or in whole.
The print media section may be used without the video analysis if
computers and internet access is limited or unavailable. Teachers
also need not fear that students merely "imitate" the commercials they
view. Buckingham (2008) emphasizes that imitation develops a high
level of analytical and practical skills (p.134). The final ad
production is essential for students constructing their
understanding. Of greatest importance is the dialogue
that develops concerning these advertisements between teacher and
student, and student and student. If discussions prove fruitful,
focused, and pedagogically sound additional time should be provided to
explore these emerging avenues of discourse.
Buckingham, David. Media Education: Literacy, Learning, and
Contemporary Culture. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2008.
Weaver, John A. Popular Culture Primer. New York: P. Lang, 2009.