Evaluation research

Media Smart believes that rigorous research should underpin our work and the development of our future teaching materials.

In 2007, Media Smart released a major piece of independent research conducted by a team lead by Professor David Buckingham at the Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, Institute of Education, University of London. This independent research involved data collection via 350 teacher surveys online, 24 in-depth interviews with teachers via telephone, and three in-school observations over several weeks.

Main findings:

Children do have a considerable understanding of advertising but until now have had little opportunity to discuss the things that they do not understand with teachers. ‘The children we observed and interviewed in our three case study schools already had a considerable knowledge of advertising. Some of the oldest children, aged ten, had a developing understanding of complex issues such as the persuasive techniques of advertising, the different types of advertising, and consumer rights.’

Teachers liked the Media Smart materials and found them to be effective at teaching children about advertising literacy. Nearly 91% of teachers thought the materials were excellent or good at successfully engaging students and nearly 88% of teachers found the materials well-designed and easy to use. A total of 85% of teachers rated the activities as excellent or good and over 83% of teachers found the materials excellent or very successful at teaching the language of advertising.

An overwhelming majority of teachers preferred to teach advertising literacy with commercial advertising examples, as opposed to the non-commercial materials also provided - ‘real examples are one of the best ways to get the message across to the children as they can relate to the particular advert.’

Be Adwise 2 is effective at teaching children about advertisingliteracy. In-class observations and interviews with children before and after use of the Media Smart materials confirmed that there were considerable gains in learning in a number of key areas as a result of the lessons. These included:

  • Positioning and targeting of children and adults as ‘target audiences’ of advertising
  • the difference between the attributes of a product and what is said about a product in advertising
  • the role of music, lighting and other technical features in selling ideas and products
  • the rights of consumers
  • peer pressure vis-a-vis brand culture
  • non-commercial campaigns

Media Smart Be Adwise 2
An Evaluation, Professor David Buckingham, Dr. Rebekah Willett, Dr. Shakuntala Banaji, Dr. Susan Cranmer, Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, Institute of Education, University of London, January 2007

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