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how documentary film-making effects social, emotional and creative development in young people.
This qualitative action research project was designed following a closer consideration of the recent advances in policy and curricular change as part of the new Irish Junior Cycle Visual Art Curriculum, in particular its emphasis on adolescent wellbeing. This has been brought about with the introduction of key skills that are the cornerstones for any new curricular development to insure successful student learning (p.13, Department of Education and Skills, 2015). For example, staying well, working with others, communicating, being creative, managing myself and managing information and thinking. Coupled with that, it was influenced by the minimal exploitation of the creative digital medium of film-making in Irish second level art education. A discipline that has the potential to develop these skills. The project, on which the study was structured around, was developed as a short course that was submitted to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and was designed following the new Junior Cycle guidelines.
The study took place in an all-female class of eight, 13 to 15-year-old students. As such the project was designed with a conscious focus on womanhood, whereby the subject matter was that of female figures of interest and social issues that might be relevant to the lives of teenage girls. By doing this a greater level of empathic engagement with the project was fostered and the results of such engagement were also examined. The project was conducted over a ten-week period, in an all-girls, multi-ethnic, secondary school in Galway city, Ireland. Qualitative action research was the theoretical framework under which this study was conducted. Data collection methods relied for the most part on the use of individual questionnaires and recorded focus groups. Further data was also gathered from reflective diaries, tutor feedback, student work and assessments.
What emerged through the study was that, through the methods and methodologies inherent in participatory documentary making, a process of social, emotional and creative learning could take place. The representation of the findings from this study, as put forward in this report, argues that these positive effects are attributed to interacting with, what is arguably a socially risky artistic process, and an immersive method of research. One that encouraged the participants to step outside their comfort zone both in a social and creative sense. As such it provides support for the grounds that documentary film-making should be strongly considered as a discipline to be taught in second level art education, not only for the technical skills it develops, but also for the social, emotional and creative skills.