Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


College of Education

First Advisor

Toby Jenkins-Henry


This paper outlines an action research study focused on the possible effects of a media literacy curriculum on middle school students’ ability to recognize racial bias in mass media. The research study also evaluated the possible differences in sensitivity to mass media messages based on gender and race. Currently, while numerous forms of media literacy education exist, very few K-12 educational systems in the United States have implemented a formal media literacy curriculum; instead, teachers who are not trained in media literacy education are expected to include the teaching of these skills within their daily lessons. The questions this research attempts to answer is: How can a media literacy curriculum sensitize middle school students to the racial bias and stereotypes present in mass media? and How do gender and race affect student sensitivity to the racial bias and stereotypes present in mass media?

While there are some studies concerning media literacy, they have not been conclusive, and additional research needs to be done. This action research study focuses on middle school students of various ability levels, and it looked both quantitatively and qualitatively at the impact of media literacy education. The data collected were evaluated through the lens of two theories that apply to media messages. Social Identity Theory combined with the idea of Identity Threat Theory are used to help negotiate the data gathered from the participants.


© 2018, Amy Savage