ERIC Number: ED439463
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997
A Mass Media-Centered Approach to Teaching the Course in Family Communication.
Mackey-Kallis, Susan; Kirk-Elfenbein, Sharon
Teaching family communication is unique. However, unlike courses in small group and interpersonal communication, which illustrates communication processes in experiential settings, family communication courses cannot create "families" in the classroom. As such, film and television depictions of the family become all the more important in their ability to illustrate key concepts of family communication theory while providing common experiences for classroom discussion. Accordingly, this paper has two purposes: (1) to inform and affirm the ways in which films and television programming can be used to illustrate significant family concepts, relationships, and issues in family communication courses; and (2) to demonstrate how the examination of media families helps students to learn more about culture's representation of this most important social institution. After exploring the impact of mass media portrayals of families, the paper discusses ways in which such films as "Ordinary People,""Terms of Endearment,""On Golden Pond," and "Frances" can be used to teach various family communication concepts and topics. The use of films' and television shows' depictions of the family in a course stimulates students to take a closer look at their own families and themselves, and to understand how mass mediated images of the family shape their own expectations of family life. It is not so much students' tears or laughter after viewing a film that makes one better understand a family concept, but rather their follow-up questions, comments, and related personal stories. Critical analyses of families in film and television gives teachers and students a platform for discussing family life in America and the tools to delve more deeply into mass media portrayals. (Contains 49 references.) (RS)
Descriptors: Family Communication, Family Relationship, Family (Sociological Unit), Films, Higher Education, Mass Media Effects, Mass Media Role, Programming (Broadcast), Television
For full text: http://www.natcom.org/ctronline2/96-97mas.htm.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Practitioners; Teachers
Authoring Institution: National Communication Association, Annandale, VA.