New Research Shows Impact of HS Video Production Program Partnership with PBS

A team of researchers at the Media Education Lab have completed a 3-year evaluation of a program that enables high school students to learn the fundamentals of broadcast journalism with help from PBS mentors.


The PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program connects middle and high school students to local PBS stations and broadcast news professionals in their communities to report on critical issues from a youth perspective. The program involved more than 50 schools and community centers across the country and each site has adapted the program to meet the particular educational needs of its students, faculty and community.


Findings from the pre-post quantitative research conducted with nearly 500 high school students who participated in the program reveal:


1) The development of media production skills that involved synthesizing information, using digital media and technology to communicate ideas in the format of a broadcast news package, and engaging in cycles of revision and feedback to polish their work.


2) Significant increases in collaboration and teamwork competencies, including intellectual curiosity, the ability to give and receive feedback and confidence in self-expression and advocacy.


3) Increases in media literacy analysis skills, more selectivity in media use choices,and a shift towards high quality news sources over entertainment-type news.


4) A less apathetic view of news and journalism, as well as orientation toward journalism careers.


5) Increased commitment to civic activism and an interest in civic engagement activities, particularly ones that are digital and collaborative.


Read the complete report here.


The intended goals of the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program are to help students gain a better understanding of what constitutes news; evaluate the credibility of the information they receive via news content; strengthen their appreciation for the norms of professional journalism; and build skills and confidence as communicators through learning how to produce news content in a collaborative real-world environment where what they create may be viewed by an authentic large audience and publication becomes the ultimate assessment.


Students participating in the program have created videos on a variety of topics, ranging from Free Speech in Rick Ross's music to a student walkout in Minnesota to ocean acidity levels. View more samples of student work on the Student Reporting Labs website.


The Media Education Lab conducted the program evaluation which involved multiple assessment strategies, including viewing student productions, conducting qualitative interviews with participants, observing and documenting teacher professional development sessions, and conducting online survey research with students participating in the program.


Our report describes the results of a large-scale pre-test–post-test study of students and teachers who participated in the program during the 2012–2013 academic year. The online survey instrument evaluated student media behavior, attitudes, and learning outcomes. Using a combination of scaled multiple-choice items and performance-based tasks, the instrument addressed news media consumption, production skills, program experiences, life skills, media literacy competencies, attitudes toward news media, civic engagement, attitudes toward education, and demographics.


This project was led by Online NewsHour Managing Editor for Education, Leah Clapman. 


The research team on this project included:

Renee Hobbs, Principal Investigator

Katie Donnelly, Program Manager

Jonathan Friesem, Research Associate

Mary Moen, Research Associate