Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Aubrey Johnson, EdD

Committee Member

Daniel Gutmore, PhD

Committee Member

Antony Farag, EdD


media literacy, media sources, racial literacy, visual literacy, student-centered inquiry, data literacy


This qualitative study explored the ways in which student use of media literacy tools and different media source materials can influence the conclusions students draw about race in the United States. The author visited eighth-grade social studies students in two different schools (one more economically advantaged; one more economically disadvantaged) for six visits apiece. During these visits, students engaged with several media sources (controlling for bias) covering two issues related to race (housing and immigration). The goal was to determine how the overall use of media literacy tools and the different types of source materials can influence the ways in which students view a difficult topic such as that of race in the United States. Students engaged in student-centered inquiry with these sources, and they shared their responses through discourse analysis featuring surveys, free-writes, small-group discussions, large-group discussions and individual interviews, all conducted in the classroom. The results of this study suggest that media literacy tools can have a profound impact on students’ analysis and critical thinking when they are engaging with media messages on tough topics such as race. As for the various media source materials explored, students responded most strongly to visual sources and to personal-experience sources about race. Hard-data sources, while not universally appealing to students, held significant influence among those who connected with telling the story of race in the U.S. through numbers. Students presented a clear desire to learn more about race, and to engage with more source materials in school to deepen their examination of this ever-challenging topic. They responded positively to the connection between the practices of media literacy and student-centered inquiry.