Mapping Impactful Media Literacy Practices

Extensive research over the past decades has found media literacy education to positively impact learners’ ability to critique and create media. This research has taken place across academic disciplines and within a variety of formal and informal education settings. As a result, there exists no widely accepted framework for defining and measuring impactful media literacy practice.

This project seeks to build a common framework for identifying and measuring impactful media literacy practices in the United States. The values that guide our project are as follows:

  • Media literacy practices prioritize marginalized and underserved communities
  • Media literacy practices prioritize just and equitable futures
  • Media literacy practices are guided by caring ethics.
  • Media literacy practices encourage experimentation, risk-taking, play, and failure.
  • Media literacy practices are nourishing, supportive, inclusive, and respectful.

The assumptions that we are questioning in this project are:

  1. Media literacy is in service of democracy.

    But for whom? And how are we defining democracy?

  2. Media literacy is in service of the community.

Which communities and to what end?

  1. Media literacy is about empowering voices.

Whose voices? And who is listening?

  1. Media literacy is about increasing civic participation.

What kinds of participation and for whom?

  1. Media literacy is about being competent and conscientious consumers of media.

What types of knowledge and skills matter most? How do we know they matter?

To address these assumptions, this project advances an “ecosystem approach” to research that is comprised of the following three phases:


Systematic Literature Review

Despite the increasing research into media literacy interventions across primary and secondary education in the United States, there has been little consensus on what makes interventions impactful, and how that impact should be measured.

We will conduct a systematic literature review of media literacy interventions in the United States, to identify and highlight what the research counts as an impactful media literacy practice. A systematic literature review will allow us to provide, for the first time in the United States, a comprehensive inquiry into two decades of research exploring the evaluation of media literacy education.

Based on the findings of the systematic literature review, we will identify a core set of indicators for impactful media literacy outcomes. These indicators will inform phase two of our research.


Mapping Media Literacy Practice

Based on the indicators for impactful media literacy practice that result from the systematic literature review, phase two of our research will map media literacy practices into various learning environments. We will select a sample of ecosystems for media literacy practice that include: primary & secondary schools, after school, and youth-focused community programs. Based on our research, we will apply our indicators through research with existing media literacy practitioners and their learning ecosystems.


Core Indicators of Impactful Media Literacy Practice

Phase Three of our research project presents a dynamic tool for media literacy practitioners to assess the impact of their media literacy practice.

This tool will use the core indicators as steps in a media literacy intervention to ensure that best practices are identified and met. The tool will prioritize and make actionable core indicators for educators and community stakeholders. It will be designed to map across diverse issues and communities.

Mapping Impactful Media Literacy Practices

Contact: Paul Mihailidis
[email protected] ​ ​