Television Observation Assignment

For your observation project, you are to watch television and collect data as you watch . Select a topic you are interested in and  follow these specific directions. In the past students have wanted to see how many homosexuals there were on television, how much sexually charged female and male imagery  there was, how differently the genders were depicted in daytime and nighttime television.  You may have another question you would like to investigate.  Plan to gather data that will relate to something you wonder about as long as it is something about the influence of TV on our culture. For example, I grew up in the “I Love Lucy” era. What were the gender messages delivered in that particular sitcom?

1.       Select a 3 hour block of time in which to watch.

2.       Plan to take your data every 15-20 minutes starting with the time you choose.  Thus you will have 9 to 10 observation times at which you flip through each of the pre-selected channels.

3.       Pre-select a minimum of 5 channels that you will look at briefly every 15-20 minutes. Please give a description of your channel choices: E.g. History, Mainstream (ABC), Cartoons, Nick at Night, Public Access, Commercials etc.






4.       Now, about those categories.  While doing this assignment you are looking to see what the common thought world (worldview) in America is as shown on television.  You may look at all kinds of programs and commercials in order to gather your data.  In fact, I want you to do that.  In this observation assignment you are NOT to look at the obvious content, you are to focus on the secret content, the normative content, the acceptable implicit thought worlds portrayed

5.       Prepare a chart with check times and channels on the vertical axis and the categories in the horizontal axis across the top of the page.  Leave space for hash marks, letter codes, and for written observations of important details you had not planned to look for.

6.       Do your observations and data collection.   Talley your data.

7.       Write up your findings and conclusions.  Reflect on how close the data were to your expectations or how far they were from what you expected.  Then reflect on what the data tell you about this society, about its thought worlds (meanings, values, assumptions, lifeworlds, lived experience, paradigm view), and how television has been incorporated into your thought world.  What might this mean for your students?  Would it mean the same thing for the boys as for the girls?  Would it mean the same thing for people of color?  What would it mean to people in poverty? Write  a  summary paragraph from your data chart and your written findings, conclusions and reflections  and post it on the appropriate topic on the discussion board .  Name your five channels first. Please read others’ findings and respond and reflect.

Type of show:  A=commercial; C=comedy; M=movie; N=Newscast; SO=soap opera; MU=music; P=police; ED=educational; G=government; T=talk show; SE=series; E=Entertainment; H=Hero; SP=sport; CH=children. CT=Cartoon;

 I= Informational, Educational

Type of action:  V=violent;  C=competition;  S=spiritual/ethical;  I=ideas;  R=rescue

Type of character:  Sp=speaking; Si= silent; B=background; F= foreground;  D=display;  Su=support;  P=powerful;  V=victim or helpless;  C=cartoon;  L=loser.    V=Villain





MalesFemalesEthnicityExtra Data