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Young people entering college today have grown up in a multimedia environment, yet the classroom they most often encounter reflects nineteenth-century pedagogy. This paper explores the paradigm shift that is making documentaries more widely accessible for use in the classroom; describes a pedagogical strategy for connecting a critical media literacy ‘reading’ of documentaries with more traditional reading of written texts; investigates the effectiveness of this method to engage students through critical media literacy in ways that encourage transformation. Effectiveness was measured in a voluntary, self-reported questionnaire, emailed to students after the semester they took Introductory Sociology. Students in the sample favored the use of documentary films in the classroom, reported seeing connections between assigned readings and films, and said that because of the films they were more able to grasp core sociological concepts.


This article was originally published in Theory in Action

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