As media and technology expand their impact on our lives, students in Mediated Communication Theory—a capstone for communication majors—are doing more than watching from the sidelines. Through the CBL course, these Stonehill students are teaching the next generation how to navigate media in our changing world.

In Angela Paradise’s section of the course, students teach media literacy to middle school students at a Brockton after-school program, Davis Commons, as well as at the city’s Ashfield Middle School. The lessons, developed and delivered by Paradise’s students each week, focus on developing critical thinking skills around media consumption, messages and their effects on individuals and society. Topics touch on media matters that impact tweens and teens, including gender stereotypes, advertising and hypercommercialism, Internet safety, and the portrayal of race. Discussion of these topics happens around hands-on activities, from media clip analysis to the creation of a public service announcement reflecting the students’ new knowledge.

As they teach these concepts, the Stonehill students gain a better understanding of media theory through its application, and also help the younger students navigate the daunting media sources and messages they face every day.

“Often, there is little to no space in the regular school day for teachers to engage students in discussion around media use and messages,” says Paradise. “My students facilitate these critical discussions, and touch on important public health issues like food advertising, body image and cyberbullying.”

Assistant Professor Wanjiru Mbure, who teaches a section of the course in partnership with Brockton’s West Middle School, says that the translation of communication theories from college classroom to middle school classroom can bring real-world surprises.

“It enriches our conversations, and it also tests them, to see how the younger students respond to topics in the news,” says Mbure. “Part of it is seeing how the kids’ exposure to media is different from the theories we cover in the classroom.”