4/2015 - Medienbildung im Kontext der "PädagogInnenbildung NEU"/Teil 2

Moving Image Comprehension Strategies of Students in Primary and Secondary Education

AutorIn: Imre Szíjártó

Mit welchen Verstehensstrategien erleben Studierende bewegte Bilder? Die Studie von Imre Szíjártó, László Borbás und Tibor Toth liefert interessante Antworten auf diese bildungswissenschaftlich und näherhin medienpädagogisch äußerst relevante Frage ...


Wir haben untersucht, wie Studierende Bewegtbilder verstehen. Der Beitrag fasst dazu die Ergebnisse mehrerer Teilstudien zusammen. In diesen Studien haben wir Daten zur Konstruktion von Bedeutung während des Konsums von Filmen, Fernsehprogrammen und Onlinevideos erhoben.

Dabei haben wir nach Antworten auf folgende Fragen gesucht: Welche Strategien zum Verstehen von Bewegtbildern werden im Sinneder Analyse von Bewegtbildinhalten verwendet? Gibt es Unterschiede zwischen Studierenden, die Filmwissenschaft studieren, und anderen Studierenden? Welche Medienkompetenzlevel können bei Kindern identifiziert werden? Welche Entwicklungsaufgaben können identifiziert werden?

Für die Verstehensstrategien der Studierenden kann festgehalten werden, dass einige Aspekte von Bewegtbildinhalten (Genre, Plot, Trailer, Titel) besonders relevant für die Rezeption und die Interpretation sind. Die formale Ausbildung hat eine nur sekundäre Funktion für die Entwicklung der Verstehenskompetenzen. Zwar ist bei bestimmten Aspekten die Rolle der Vermittlung der Bewegtbildkultur und der Medienwissenschaft erkennbar, so z.B. im Kontext von manchen Interpretationsgemeinschaften. Dennoch kann die Schulung nicht mit andere Sozialisationsfaktoren konkurrieren.

Damit wird die Rolle der Medienerziehung erfassbar: Diese kann zu Ergebnissen führen, wenn in der Vermittlung der Bewegtbildkultur und in medienwissenschaftlichen Kursen an das Vorwissen der Studierenden angeschlossen wird. Dieses Ergebnis ist auch für die Planung von Medienerziehung in fächerübergreifenden Curricula relevant.

Die Ergebnisse der Studien können in die Entwicklung von Kompetenzen zur Wissenskonstruktion integriert werden. Wir hoffen, dass die Studien einen Beitrag zum Verständnis der Konzeptualisierung von Bewegtbildern durch Studierende leisten und dieses Wissen genutzt werden kann, um die Ausbildung in formalen Settings zu verbessern.

We looked at moving image comprehension strategies of primary and secondary students – the present study summarises the results of this enquiry. In this research we collected data about techniques of meaning construction during the consumption of films, television programmes, and online moving image content.

We were looking for an answer for the following questions: What moving image comprehension strategies are being used in terms of analysing moving image content? Are there differences in social context in relation to moving image comprehension? Are there differences between students studying the subject of Moving Image Culture and those not? What typical media literacy levels can be identified among children? What development tasks can be identified?

In terms of students’ comprehension strategies we can conclude that some aspects of moving image content (genre, plot, trailer, and title) play an exceptionally important role in reception and interpretation. Formal education has an ambiguous position in terms of establishing strategies of developing moving image literacy: in certain aspects, the role of moving image culture and media studies is notable – for example, in the context of certain communities of interpretation – yet the school cannot rival the effects of other socializing forces.

The role of education can be grabbed here: education may bring results if work in the moving image culture and media studies class builds upon students’ brought knowledge. This is an important fact when planning out the roles of media education within a cross-curricula context, as well.

1. Introducing the research

1.1. Introduction

The Department of Moving Image Culture at Eszterházy Károly College continues to develop its activity in researching moving image pedagogy as a part of the "ICT in the World of Knowledge and Learning – Research and Development in Human Performance Technology"[1] project under the national Social Regeneration Operational Programme (TÁMOP). This activity is characterized by the publication of monographs, edited volumes, translated works, methodo-logical publications, as well as by participation in conferences, producing creative products, and organising events to popularise media literacy (film festivals and contests organised for second-ary students)[2].

1.2. The positioning of the research within the entire project

The research of the Department of Moving Image Culture was realised as a part of the module entitled "Analysis of Real Strategies of Learning in Multimedia Environments Using Multimedia Methods". The title of the sub-theme is "Media Usage, Media Consumption, and Processing Media Messages in Differing Social Environments". The sub-theme consists of four interrelated phases. In the first stage we looked at moving image comprehension strategies of primary and secondary students – the present study summarises the results of this enquiry. In this research we collected data about techniques of meaning construction during the consump-tion of films, television programmes, and online moving image content. In the second part we moved on to utilise these results: we wrote four methodological studies for students enrolled in teacher-training courses. The target groups of these methodological enquiries are students of primary school teacher education, MA students of Geography and Visual Culture teacher-training, as well as students of Media, Moving Image, and Communications teacher-training courses. In the third part, students, enrolled in the above-mentioned teacher-training courses, conducted lessons based on their acquired knowledge. The prospective teachers visited a class-room in a partner institution, and under our supervision they tested their teaching skills in per-forming media literacy development work within the confines of their own subject. In the fourth part of the project we will take our experience of media literacy development outside the school: we are planning to hold textual analysis classes at local public and community develop-ment sites (local houses of culture, bases of grassroots organisations, and community buildings). During this part of the programme we set out to tackle a current, pressing, and especially sensi-tive social issue by making use of tools in moving image comprehension. Through developing media literacy skills we can help certain segments of society to broaden their knowledge, which serves general aims at integration.

The materials produced (case studies, lesson plans, documents of class work) will be available to use in teacher training, public education, and academia, even after the closure of the programme.

The programme, consisting of four components, fits the fifth pillar of the Digital Agenda for Europe scheme. Our programme is closest to the initiative "Collaboration of Member States for the Purpose of Innovative and Sharable ICT Solutions" of the "Research and Innovation" initiative. In the program, and in the research presented in this study, we set out to examine how ICT tools can be used to decrease social inequality and in the management of social con-flict. The innovative nature of the research is that the devices are not only being used for spreading information, but also for developing media literacy and e-competence.

Our programme touches upon the following horizontal elements of DAE: development of e-skills (the research or its results should enable women, disadvantaged groups, disabled people, and the elderly to access the Internet and ICT technology, and ICT technology should help in facilitating their lives)

2. The incorporation of the research

The literature dealing with the media literacy of students states that, in a society defined by mass media, most pupils acquire a broad sense of media awareness and experience before entering the classroom. This knowledge is acquired from newspapers, magazines, television, radio, Internet and digital video projects. We know much less about the broader structures of connection between media and society. We need to help students develop skills that enable them to critically asses the role of the media played in society. (Croteau, Hoynes, 2003).

Enquiries conducted in this area state that Education is required to make use of the op-portunities of technology; furthermore, these opportunities should be used to develop and broaden media literacy, as technology is available for the establishment of attitudes and values. Teachers must perform the education of media literacy with the help of ICT technology, while they also have to take into consideration the social environment of education. (Fry, 2011).

2.1. Researching media literacy

The study of media literacy is reflected in its international complexity by the European Association for Viewers Interests (EAVI), formally established by the European Council’s DG for Information Society & Media (now called DG CONNECT). The goal of the study to be summarized here is the introduction of the concept of media literacy, and the outlining of the possibilities of assessing media literacy within a European framework.

The policy document on audiovisual media services prescribes the assessment of, and reporting on, media literacy amongst EU member states for the European Council. The assess-ment of the various elements of media literacy requires the development and establishment of such tools and indicators that are able to pinpoint the state, status, and exposure of European media literacy. The aim of the study is to highlight and clarify the contiguity of definitions in terms of media literacy, and also to produce a suitable tool to assess media literacy within a European context.

The comprehensive goals of the media literacy initiative of the EU are: developing criti-cal thinking, problem solving skills, civic awareness and the broader aspect of freedom of speech, right for information, and the intercultural dialogue of media consumers and their criti-cal self-awareness. The study thus provides a comprehensive image of media literacy, and makes some suggestions about how to assess different levels of media literacy in Europe.

The study aims to: establish a system of criteria for the Council, which enables the as-sessment of media literacy, to evaluate different levels of media literacy amongst the EU 27 member states, to evaluate the economic and social effects of differing media literacy levels, and to suggest possible European policy initiatives that would assist the provision and action of member states.

The study outlines the structure of media literacy assessment criteria. Individual compe-tences are positioned on level two of the pyramid structure, which begins with usage, as the second requirement of media literacy development. Usage can be located at the intersection of accessibility and operative skills. This is followed by critical understanding, which refers to the understanding of content and media context, and how this is reflected in behaviour. It includes all cognitive processes that effect user behaviour. Usage requires knowledge, which requires meta-knowledge (knowledge about knowledge). This enables the user to evaluate various as-pects of media, comparing different types and sources of information, drawing the necessary conclusions about their validity and adequacy.

The top of the pyramid encompasses communicative abilities, which are the manifesta-tions of levels of media literacy and quality, which is based on the success or failure of the low-er levels. These are skills which are manifested through the participation of content creation and social relations through the media. This is the highest level of media literacy.

Media literacy is the result of the dynamic processes between basic (access and context) and top (communicative abilities).

Media literacy in Europe is not homogenous according to the hypotheses of the study. Northern states, especially Scandinavian countries, possess fewer people, but a high level of social and educational standards, therefore reflect higher levels of media literacy. Central Eu-rope, including the EU states of the region, belongs to the mid-level competence category, while in Southern and Eastern Europe media literacy is limited and basic. There is significant correlation between individual media literacy and environmental conditions (see also: EAVI).

3. The goal, research tools, hypothesis, data collection, and sample of the research

In this section we set out to position our research within those research trends that the litera-ture discusses. The first stream is the research on the effects of media. If we approach it from the perspective of media institutions, than these studies analyse the process of persuasion and the exertion of media effects on users. From the perspective of the audience, these processes result in the changes of one’s inner world, according to the hypothesis and results of the re-search (Hobbs 2011). The second stream puts the emphasis on media use, therefore the main question of such enquiry is: what, and why do users consume certain media products, and what media sources does one use in order to gain information (Vajda, Kósa 2005). The key word of the third stream is media literacy; its basic enquiry aims to unveil users’ competences of analys-ing media texts and of producing digital texts (Livingstone, Bovill 2001). Our study does not examine habits of television and internet usage, and only partly deals with looking at the rela-tionship between students and media texts they consume. We primarily look at strategies of interpretation, and this is accessible mostly through mapping out media literacy. In this sense our study belongs to the third stream of research. Our questionnaire is not standardized, since the relevant literature does not contain any that has already been tested and would correspond to our research. In this sense our questionnaire  is not valid and reliable.

The general aspects of creating the survey were the following: we wanted to consult children to see what pedagogical work must be done to develop skills of analysing media con-tent, and we would also like to use the results in teacher training, precisely in the work involv-ing the development of moving image comprehension.

We were looking for an answer for the following questions: What moving image com-prehension strategies are being used in terms of analysing moving image content? Are there dif-ferences in social context in relation to moving image comprehension? Are there differences between students studying the subject of Moving Image Culture and those not? What typical media literacy levels can be identified among children? What development tasks can be identified?

Students’ media comprehension strategies are composed of three elements, according to the literature and our previous findings: firstly, the socio-cultural environment, secondly, the school, thirdly, those online communities that students participate in – in traditional terms this refers to the effects of peer groups. We established logical relations at the intersection of the three components and these stood as the vantage point of designing our survey.

Accordingly, we had to gain information about the socio-cultural environment: this was necessary to unveil the relationship between socio-cultural environments and applied compre-hension strategies. Questions 6, 7, 8, and 12 served this purpose (How many members have a job in your family? How many members have a regular income in your family? What is the regu-lar monthly income in your family? How many books are there in your family? Partly, the social background, partly the possession of ICT devices was examined by question 9, which asked about the presence of TVs, computers, DVD players, and smartphones in the household. With question 10, we also wanted to know how often children were using these tools. With the other set of questions we wanted to map out the sources of students’ moving image comprehension and interpretation strategies when exposed to media texts; in other words, what effects do fami-ly, friends, classes, and consumed online content have on students’ moving image comprehen-sion. These questions tackle the extent to which strategy-categories effect the development of moving image comprehension strategies. Such questions included: List what types of social groups you watch films with (Question 18), 'What influences your assessment of a film?' (Ques-tion 19), Where do you acquire specific cinematic terms? (Question 24)

The most common and most characteristic moving image comprehension strategies can be examined with the help of specific films and media content. These can reveal the quality of comprehension; in other words, if stereotypical approaches can be identified, and if so, what these are. Questions 20 and 21 (Define what types of films you like! and Define what types of TV programmes you like!) need to be related to those answers we received for questions ad-dressing the consumption and assessment of moving image content.

The study did not tease out the time spent on consuming television programmes and films, but we did include two relevant questions: ‘How often do you watch films?’ (Question 15) and ‘How often do you watch the listed TV channels?’ (Question 22). The answers for these questions can prove if media consumption and media usage can be related to moving im-age comprehension strategies – in other words, does the consumption of moving image texts result in people’s higher level of media literacy?

Questions addressing the core research questions of study were those inquiring about various aspects of moving image comprehension. The identification of the most determining aspects was based on a study examining cinema-blogs, which examined the moving image com-prehension of audiences that use online sites to discuss films. (Szíjártó 2012).

Based on the above, there were eight questions directly addressing strategies of recep-tion, and these attempted to check the findings of the study – which was based on the textual analysis of blogs, and to provide a more nuanced idea of these processes of meaning moving image comprehension. The first approach is the aspect of choosing content (Question 16: ‘What influences your decision about watching a film?’). Based on our experience as educators, this question addresses a basic aspect of viewers’ attitudes, as many different components deter-mine a decision like this. The PR effects of a work play a significant role (poster of the film, trailer, but we can list here even genre, as the self-definition of films in terms of genre, and the characterisation of genre from a professional standpoint have caused a lot of debate). The other important aspect is expectation – based on popular beliefs in terms of identifying and assessing a film: such as the title of the film, which viewers very often identified with the film as a whole; the production country, or the actors involved. The latter elements can also incorporate expec-tations independent of the actual cinematic text, because viewers often identify certain genre with certain countries, and express expectations of repeating an actor’s previous character and performance.

In the third set of questions we emphasised four elements of assessing film and televi-sion programmes: these are the image of reality, the role of the title and the trailer, and the plot (Questions 23, 25, 26, 27). Our aim was to get closer to the mechanisms of reception, which are often characterised by the above-mentioned reappearing, therefore strategy-defining elements.

The fourth set consists of two questions, which on the one hand enable us to examine the assessment of specific films and TV programmes; on the other we can also relate these to the answers given to the other three sets of questions. With question 28 and 31 (‘Do you agree with the statements below?’ and ‘What do you think about nature films?’) we could test some popular beliefs which are presumably also present in the answers of the survey. These are the following: it is possible to separate "entertainment" and "thought-provoking" functions of films and TV programmes. Furthermore, that these functions serve as a basic factor in assessing con-tent. (Question 28: ‘Do you agree with the statements that Dallas is only good for entertain-ment?’ and that ‘Dallas makes you think about issues?) The statements of the survey also ad-dress the same phenomenon from a different perspective: ‘Barátok közt is important (or in an-other question, insignificant) in terms of the issues it raises’. In question 31, we looked at the assessment of a popular moving image genre which appears regularly in blogs: the nature film. We unhinged nature film because, based on our experience at college entrance exams, and dur-ing classroom observations, we found that there is a relatively stable general consesus about the nature of nature films. According to which, nature film, based on a sense of noble traditions, is positioned at the top of the hierarchy of the genre value system – it is apparent that this inter-pretation reifies a late modern ideology, and disregards the embedded action-film characteristics of this specific genre.

The hypotheses of the research are the following: 1. We suppose that the moving image comprehension strategies are also affected by forces outside of a school setting – most im-portantly, the socio-cultural status of students. 2. We suppose that students' moving image comprehension strategies are influenced by their habits of usage and consumption of media. 3. We suppose that formal education also informs the development of students’ media literacy and 4. the subject of Moving Image Culture and Media Education plays an important role in a for-mal educational context.

The mapping of moving image comprehension strategies, and the outlining of the vari-ous aspects that influence these strategies serve a basis for writing a textbook for teacher train-ing, which would assist in developing the training of prospective teachers. The research also helps us in outlining those areas of moving image pedagogy that need to receive greater empha-sis. Finally, the research may bring us closer to understanding students’ general attitudes to-wards culture and civilization.

Filling the survey took about 20-35 minutes. Answering the questions did not pose a problem for students. The survey was conducted on paper; data collection was attended by one of the colleagues from the Department or by a teacher of the students. The surveys were con-ducted in autumn, 2012 and spring 2013.

The survey consists of 31 questions, out of which 12 targets socio-cultural relations, 15 addresses processes of understanding media texts. 4 further questions collect data on respond-ents’ age, sex, schools, and education. We collected 115 items per survey during data entry. The study involved a total sum of 597 students, 16 schools, and 11 settlements. These are mostly located in the Northeast part of Hungary. The sum of students live in 142 settlements, a signifi-cant amount of them is located in disadvantaged and increasingly disadvantaged regions.
Most students completing the survey live in the following counties: Heves, Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Hajdú-Bihar és Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg.

Map 1: Students' distribution by home area

Map 2: Location of students' schools

Students attend grades 7 to 13. The largest number attend grades 8 (241 people) and 12 (120 people) grades.

Students by year




Valid percentage

































No answer




Table 1: Division of students by grade

The ratio of girls to boys is approximately 60 % to 40 %.

Students’ division by sex













Table 2: Ratio of boys to girls among respondents

The status of families' social conditions was determined by the number of family mem-bers and the sum of the income of a household. Other elements included the amount books and ICT tools possessed, as well as devices used for watching TV and other moving image content.

Graph 1: Number of people in a single household

Graph 2: Income per family

31,5% of students in the study live on about 100-250 000 HUF/month. The average number of people living in a single household is 4,37. Salary for one person is about 40 000 HUF/month. Notwithstanding, the families in general possess 2, 5 TV sets, 2,5 computers, 1,98 DVD players and 1,87 smartphones.

The study concludes that the students’ families live on a significantly low income, yet, they do possess devices capable of communication and film consumption.

Graph 3: Division based on GPA

A close relationship between grade point average in education, and students’ social condition was not discovered as a result. 93,2% of students achieve a GPA of 3,6 to 5,0.

4. Media comprehension strategies and social condition

We were interested in finding whether there is a difference in the usage of popular de-vices between the children of socially disadvantaged and more affluent families. The basis of filter was the higher or lower salary per family as compared to the average monthly income per person (40 000 HUF).

Graph 4: Monthly income of households

Daily usage






Higher income families




Lower income families




Table 3: Daily usage of devices

Only the use of smartphones reflected a larger amount of difference: 3,5% use smartphones less frequently in poorer families. TV usage on the other hand shows a higher val-ue amongst poorer households by 1,6%.

Based on these results, the answers submitted to the question probing types of sources of film consumption are not surprising at all:






Higher salary families

Lower salary families

Higher salary families

Lower salary families

Higher salary families

Lower salary families






















Table 4: Sites of film reception

The methods of film reception do not show significant differences among the respondents. The highest difference can be found in terms of television and computers, based on which the primary device is TV (+2,4%), while computer-use is somewhat lower (-3,0%) among poorer households.

There are no differences between socially disadvantaged and more affluent students in determining what influences students in decision to watch a film. Both categories identified friends first: 59,8% and online social sites second: 41,7%. The third factor was classmates: 31,8%. The ratio of parents in the decision-making process is also significant: 26,1%. However, the subject of media studies in formal education plays a much more insignificant role in their decision to watch a film 12,4%.

If we take into consideration the sites where students acquire cinematic terminology, the following situation becomes apparent:

Determining factors

The film



Moving image and media class



Online social media






Table 5: Factors influencing the choice of what film to watch and the acquisition of cinematic terms

If we look at the three determining factors in making decisions, we see that compared to other determining factors, the ratio of moving image and media classes in influencing students’ decision about watching a film is only about one-tenth in average. However, the ratio almost doubles when it comes to learning special cinematic terms.

In determining the respondents’ moving image comprehension strategies, we also meas-ured the supposed reality value of television programmes as imagined by students. Based on the data we can conclude that social situation does not influence these either in a significant amount.


Higher salary family

Lower salary family

M1 news



RTL Klub news



RTL Klub Fókusz



Házasodik a gazda



Barátok közt



Table 6: Reality value of programmes

It becomes clear from the data that the news programme of the Hungarian PSB televi-sion channel is regarded as a more reliable presenter of reality when compared to commercial channels.

In terms of specific programmes, a small difference could be located between poorer and richer families’ children. Socially disadvantaged students place more significance on titles in assessing films.


Higher income families

Lower income families

The title lays out the content



The title lays out the plot



We can predict the mood of a film based on its title



There might be a more complex relationship between title and film



Table 7: Attitudes to title in terms of family income

Assessment of television series amongst students’ different social backgrounds is not the same. The reflection of real problems by television series are more favourably assessed by so-cially disadvantaged students. Nevertheless, both groups regard television series more as a form of entertainment than of critical reflection.

We also looked for connections between social status and popular genre. There is no significant variance in this area either. The most popular genre is comedy (38,2%). Furthermore, a significant number of respondents chose horror, action, and romantic films (mostly girls).

Graph 5: The most popular cinematic genre

4.1. The connections of moving image comprehension strategies and social condition – summary

Based on the study we can conclude that there are no significant differences between lower and higher income students in their moving image comprehension strategies. Identifiable differences are more a result of differences in GPAs. Differences in social conditions can only be found in terms of devices available at home. In conclusion, we can state that friends, online communities, and trailers play a significant role in developing moving image comprehension strategies. PSB receives a favourable judgement when compared to commercial television channels. The effects of media studies classes are notable in the context of acquiring professional cinematic terms, but these are also influenced by school and other peer communities.

5. Strategies of reception

In this section we focus on students’ preferences in choosing films, and their applied assess-ment methods; in other words, we set out to outline those tracks of meaning construction that determine the taste and opinion of respondents in the context of moving images. We focus on answers relating to films, choice of films, and comprehension of cinematic texts, but we also make an attempt to suggest general conclusions in the context of moving image and media liter-acy.

The content analysis of cinema-blogs served as the background to the survey. In this study we conceptualised the following goals: firstly, to map out the analytical framework of viewers, secondly, to identify their mechanisms of textual analysis, and thirdly to identify some significant strategies of analysis. In other words, we set out to identify viewer’s habits of judg-ing. (Szíjártó, 2012).

In the following we highlight some film analysis methods through which students’ modes of comprehension can be attained. At the end of the section we highlight a type of non-fiction moving image, because according to our findings, it is especially suitable to examine viewer’s relationship to media content. This is the genre of nature film, around which an excit-ing popular belief seems to prevail: viewers view nature films with a heightened sense of respect and lessened level of suspicion, while in such films extremely nuanced techniques of influencing viewers can be spotted.

5.1. Preferences in terms of moving image types

Viewer’s comprehension is greatly determined by their pre-conceived notions about a film or about other media content; in other words, about what types of media text attract them the most. We can complement the results described in this section with similar results we iden-tified during the content analysis of cinema-blogs: students very often force upon pre-conceived notions on the concrete viewing experience. In other words, films and other moving image texts are expected to in fact match pre-conceived notions. It seems students’ reception strategies are quite rigid, because as viewers it is very hard for them to re-construct their prevailing concep-tions based on new experiences.

Question 20 of the survey prompted: "In order of preference, list the types of films you like". The sum value in the table points to the frequency respondents refer to a given cinematic genre, film type, or plot scheme. It is important to note that we did not provide possible catego-ries, so the answers reveal genre categories, issues of mood, and also elements of content. The respondents provided 60 categories in summary, which included a huge variety of terms, most of them not adhering to professional terminology. For example: "with vehicles," "3D," "reflect-ing important values," "good". There is great diversity in the answers, but we received a big pool of terms to be used for describing films, and this pool is a result of students’ own concep-tualisation, therefore well reveals the wide range of expectations.

Order of preference













Action film































Table 8: Preferences in terms of characteristics of moving images

The first four places host four categories which identify students’ expectations on the most general level, and which reappear quite recognisably in other parts of the survey: comedy means happiness, horror makes you shiver, action promises intensive plot, and romance brings out emotions for them. Interesting is the quite significant popularity of drama. Our findings show that drama, in students’ diction, is a very broad concept and its meaning is not necessarily tangible: this category is used by cinematic databases, content reviews, and blogs, to refer to all those films which are not comedy or do not belong to genre film at a more general level. Con-sidering all this, drama seems to be the fifth most important category on the list.

5.2. Aspects of film selection

The issue of film selection relates to the question of viewer expectations, as films are se-lected based on preliminary expectations. Four significant aspects surface based on the question ‘On what basis do you decide if you will watch a film or no’ (Question 16). Possible answers were provided here, and this might be the reason for the disappearance of some possible terms – for example, the concept of film plot is missing from the ‘four most popular’ list. The concept ‘Other’ was also chosen by only an insignificant number, which may indicate that we were able to anticipate most of the categories.

Table 9: Aspects of film selection (%, N=593)

The first four places of genre, title, actor, and trailer nicely outline the preferences of students. We will return to the issue of title and trailer, because it seems these are the most de-fining elements of students’ meaning construction. About genre: above we pointed out that students do not use the professional terminology in terms of genre categories; rather they use the term genre to describe content or plot.

5.3. Evaluating the role of the trailer

The role of the trailer seems to be a defining factor. It is useful to connect point 2 of question 16 (‘On what basis do you decide to watch a film?) and the answers given to question 26 (‘How do you evaluate the role of trailers for a film?). It is important to highlight two as-pects based on the image. The first: almost four fifths of the respondents select a film based on its trailer. The second: only one-fourth regards trailers as primarily a form of advertising; three-fourths think of it as a serious, reliable criterion of film selection. This result highlights an im-portant aspect of viewer’s attitude: viewers get informed by concentrates, outlines, scans, which substitute the films. The artefact as a whole is injured and is replaced by the quickly identifiable character of action and spectacle.

Graph 6, 7: Evaluation attidudes to trailers

5.4.  Opinions about the title of a film

In this sub-section we look at the relationship between question 16, item 1 and question 25. (‘What connection do you see between a film and its title?’) We previously mentioned that the title of a film serves as an important source of information about a film – this is actually confirmed by our hands-on experience as educators in higher education. The role of the title seems to suggest a similar role to the trailer, in terms of viewer activity. It steps in the place of the film as a whole, representing it in a smaller, more simplified way.

It is valuable to highlight the following in terms of results. On the one hand there stand those groups who build on methods of professional analysis and literature: ‘The relationship between title and film might be more complex than it would first appear’. The title is in a spe-cial position in terms of style and textual enquiry, therefore it is not a miniature form of the film; instead it is connected to the film by a complex metaphorical-referential relationship. This answer was chosen by about 40%. On the other side there stand three answers (‘The title sug-gests the film’s mood’, ‘The title reflects the film’s content’, ‘The title pinpoints the film’s plot’) which reflect that the viewers suppose a simple relationship between title and content. "It is in the title" – emphasise many times the authors of blogs. It is important to re-state here that the title is a very significant force in choosing a film; the second most important motif according to the survey.

Table 10: Views on the title of a film

5.5. Factors of assessing a film

Question 19 of the survey prompts: "What influences you in assessing a film?" It is wor-thy to look at the order of preference here; results will also be evaluated on the basis of atti-tudes of analysis in subsequent paragraphs. Unsurprisingly, friends, online forums, and class-mates – in other words, peer groups – are the most significant determining forces. Two other factors are also noteworthy: the role of parental opinion plays an important part for 26%, and the role of the moving image culture and media studies subject at school was also indicated by 13%. The role of parents perhaps emerges in discussing films with them and in their control of watching certain content. Although moving image culture and media studies in schools is in theory compulsory (or it is compulsory to integrate media studies into other subjects according to cross-curricula requirements); its effects seem trifling.

Table 11: Factors of film assessment

5.6. Attitudes of analysis

Attitudes to interpretation can be measured in a more subtle fashion via factor analysis, which we conducted during data processing of the answers provided to the question above. The first group we called "Personal relationships-influenced". Viewers belonging to this group allude to the effects of face-to-face relations and live communications: a big emphasis is given to the role of friends, classmates and parents. "Internet-oriented" viewers do not acquire their knowledge through face-to-face interaction, while "School-oriented" group members are de-scribed as followers of a hierarchical system, and who appreciate information gained during media classes.

Graph 8: Attitudes of interpretation

5.7. Sources of cinematic terms

We have examined the use and source of cinematic terms in light of the social condition of students. In this sub-section we try to look at the topic of discussing films in a professional manner, using professional terms, and going beyond impressionistic descriptions in the meaning construction process. The origin of the apparatus of analysis is important because simple, unre-flective viewers can be distinguished from highly media literate individuals by the diction they use when discussing films. According to the table, peer groups and internet forums play an im-portant part here, too. In this regard, the value and role of moving image culture and media classes in school are somewhat uncertain.


Among friends

From online

social media





From Moving

Image Culture

and Media















Never here











Sometimes here











On an average here











Characteristically here











Entirely here






















Table 12: Sources of cinematic terms

5.8. Evaluation of nature films

Nature films are a reliable source of information; this is also confirmed by many colleagues. Question 31, ‘What do you think of nature films’ brought the following results: the respondents supported three possible answers mostly: in order of preference: ‘They only include important information’. ‘It is possible to learn a lot from them’. ‘They represent a realistic image of the world’. The answers to this question were mostly within the range of ‘very true’ or ‘true’, which means that respondents think of nature films in an uncritical, unreflective way, as if the nature film were some type of educational film – disregarding or avoiding its fictional elements.

The nature film…


Slightly characteristic

Moderately characteristic

Mostly characteristic

Entirely characteristic


Only contain useful information







One can learn a lot from them







Are action films







Spread scientific knowledge







All age-groups can watch







My teachers recommend them without any restriction







They are very funny







They make you scared







They open the world for us







They provide authentic images of the world







Table 13: Evaluation of nature films

6. Summary

According the first hypothese we are supposed that the moving image comprehension strategies are also affected by forces outside of a school setting – most importantly, the socio-cultural status of students. The opinion forming influence of peer groups and online communi-ties play an increasing role in students’ literacy levels, but we also identified another reception group, where knowledge acquired at school also plays a significant role. An important result of our research is that students’ socio-cultural environment plays a less significant role in the pro-cess of moving image comprehension – contrary to previous knowledge and expectations.

In terms of students’ comprehension strategies we can conclude that some aspects of moving image content (genre, plot, trailer, and title) play an exceptionally important role in re-ception and interpretation.
In the second hypothese we are hypothesized that students' moving image comprehen-sion strategies are influenced by their habits of usage and consumption of media: this was shown by analysing preferences in film selection, and in moving image assessment.

On the third hypothesis: formal education has an ambiguous position in terms of estab-lishing strategies of developing moving image literacy: in certain aspects, the role of moving image culture and media studies is notable – for example, in the context of certain communities of interpretation – yet the school cannot rival the effects of other socializing forces.

The subject of Moving Image Culture and Media Education plays an important role in a formal educational context – included the fourth hypothesis. The role of education can be grabbed here: education may bring results if work in the moving image culture and media stud-ies class builds upon students’ brought knowledge. This is an important fact when planning out the roles of media education within a cross-curricula context, as well.
The findings of our research can be incorporated into the development of meaning con-struction skills. We hope that our research brings us closer to learning about students’ concep-tualisation of the moving image, and this knowledge can be used to successfully serve the de-velopmental work in a formal educational setting.


[1]The present essay was prepared within the framework of the TÁMOP-4.2.2.C-11/1/KONV-2012-0008 (Social Renewal Operative Program) project titled "The application of ICT in learning and knowledge acquisition: Research and Training Program Development in Human Performance Technology". Said project was implemented by the support of the European Union and the co-financing of the European Social Fund.

[2]Fejezetek a brit film történetéből. Szerk.: Győri, Zsolt, Líceum, Kiadó, Eger 2010. Karol Irzykowski: A tizedik múzsa. A filmesztétika kérdései. Magyar Képzőművészeti Egyetem Doktori Iskola – Brozsek Kiadó, Budapest, 2011. Ford.: Szíjártó Imre, Dabi M. István. Tóth Tibor: Magazinműsorok szerkesztése. Eger 2011.


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Map 1: Students’ distribution by home area


media pedagogy, media literacy, moving image comprehension strategies, development of moving image comprehension