Media and the affective domain – Veronica Brown

I am still letting last week’s thoughts about expressive activities leading to expressive outcomes rummage around in my head. For now, I’d like to talk about the value of media in instruction and assessment of the affective domain. I’d like you to take a few minutes to look at the following three examples.

Example 1 – Tacoma Narrows Bridge

First, watch this video. It shows the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse in 1940.

The image of that bridge oscillating has stayed with me all these years. We watched that film (yes, this was pre-YouTube and I’m almost positive it was a film) in high school physics. For me, it was life-changing. Sounds a bit dramatic but I could never look at a structure the same way again. Even watching it today, a thousand questions run through my mind. How did that happen? Not just the physics of it but the human side, too. Who reviewed all the specs? How did this possibly happen? Can concrete actually move like that? Why did that car get stuck there? Was anyone hurt?  But as I sit at my computer writing this blog, a different question comes to mind.

Why did my physics teacher show us that film?

Example 2 – Rural and Urban Life in England

Now, I would like you to perform two Google searches for images (just click the links below to see my search’s results).

Search 1: 17th Century rural England

Search 2: 19th Century Tenements

How do you feel when you see those two images? Where would you rather live? Why? This idea of sharing images for comparison was presented by Linda Hunter at the Teaching & Learning Innovations (TLI) Conference at the University of Guelph (2012). She used two images to help students immediately see the difference between two time periods. She also played examples of the music of the eras (the abstract of her presentation, Making Connections Across Disciplines: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Interpreting Art, Music and Film for Sociological Theory Applications,  is available on the TLI web site). While we might understand that it was crowded in London in the late 19th century, how quickly we might be able to appreciate just how different it was from rural life 200 years earlier. These images and the music served as an introduction to a lesson but could also become an assessment tool. By asking students to find images to represent that era then comparing the images through a written component, students are able to demonstrate their knowledge of the era while also reaching into the affective domain. Another option would be to have students create something to represent both eras, such as a piece of art, a photo, a video, or some other piece.

Example 3 – Durham City Baths

Finally, I’d like you to look at the images in this article, Adventures of a Serial Trespasser. In particular, check out Photo 20 then compare it to the photos on Rob Birrell’s photography blog – Durham City Baths. I can imagine asking students to review both photos in any number of disciplines. They could prompt a discussion in any number of disciplines, such as planning, recreation and leisure, sociology, fine arts, engineering, economics, or environment and resource studies. To encourage students to look beyond the simplistic view that it is an old building that’s falling apart, why not ask students to defend the city’s decision to abandon this facility in order to build a new recreation complex. Other questions could encourage students to consider diversity, societal impact, socio-economic factors, historical factors, political implications, etc.. A broad question, such as What factors might influence the city’s decision not to repair the existing facility?, could provide opportunities to assess whether students are even aware of these factors. In this case, media can be used to encourage students to take a broader view of the scenario beyond addressing only the knowledge pieces.





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Veronica Brown

As Senior Instructional Developer, Curriculum & Quality Enhancement, Veronica Brown provides oversight and facilitative support for departmental and Faculty-wide curriculum planning initiatives. She also leads the development and implementation of the Centre’s assessment plan for understanding the impact and quality of our work.