Watching films raises grades, research finds

2nd October 2015 at 12:03
film, bera, british educational research association, jennifer lawrence, literacy, hunger games, robert downey jr, research

It sounds like a particularly lame excuse for failing to do homework: “Watching The Hunger Games is good for my English skills, honest.”

But, in fact, spending the evening at the movies can boost school grades, research has suggested.

Franzi Florack of Bradford University in the UK introduced regular film-literacy classes to 19 elementary schools in England. These were supplemented with visits by professional film-makers to the classroom.

She found that following the classes, 38.8 per cent of students performed higher than expected in English tests.

The evidence was supported by interviews with the students, many of whom said that they felt more confident about expressing themselves following the film-viewing classes.

In fact, 53.7 per cent of students said that their writing was better in film classes than in other lessons. Meanwhile, 48.4 per cent said that they achieved better grades in film lessons than in other lessons.

The majority of teachers also believed that the scheme was having a positive impact on their pupils’ writing.

The effect of spending school time watching Jennifer Lawrence save the world in a black leather jumpsuit, or Robert Downey Jr doing the same in an iron romper, was particularly felt in schools where standards were low.

“These students were more likely to begin the year with below-expectation grades, but then caught up and sometimes exceeded expectations,” Ms Florack said, presenting her findings at a research conference this month.

Students who were working below the level expected for their age group were the most likely to make progress as a result of the new lessons: 62 per cent saw an increase in their English grades, compared with 52.5 per cent of children already at the expected level.

Teachers reported a particularly noticeable effect among underachieving and hard-to-engage boys, as well as with older children, leading Ms Florack to conclude: “Films might be a good tool to raise the attainment of underachieving students.”


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