Description of Sample
The present investigation examined the perceptions of English teachers in a high-performance, urban parochial high school in Queens, New York. The school serves a community that is located in a residential, yet moderately commercial area. The teachers under study ranged from one to forty years of experience. Teachers of both genders were included in the sample. The sample included teachers with a strong content background in English Literature and a spectrum of formal preparation in the field of education.
A qualitative case study was conducted, utilizing a battery of strategies that included: personal interviews, professional observation, analyses of the responses to the prepared questionnaire and perusal of pertinent documentation. Triangulation techniques were applied among the data generated through these techniques in an attempt to verify the accuracy of the information with respect to a comparison between raw data and actual practices. The results of this analysis were assessed in terms of accuracy, plausibility, and compatibility in terms of addressing the research question.
In their responses, the teachers unanimously affirmed the belief that popular/modern culture was, indeed, a viable resource in secondary English instruction. There was consensus that the student frame of reference needed to be considered in an appropriately structured manner. The primary cultural sources that were referenced by the respondents included Internet sources, including YouTube, television, and music. Several of the respondents also indicated that that incorporating comic books into instructional practices also provided conceptual connections to enhance the interest of the students to the materials under study.
The use of video-games and related materials within lessons taught was minimal across the sample. A number of teachers saw no relevance between the genre and literature, while some admitted a general lack of familiarity with them. One respondent cited video game advertisements to demonstrate violence in different media. Others cited the use of other contemporary genres within their classroom, especially films, but video games and related media were not employed. Overall, few teachers reported any familiarity with the genre to support the construction of a lesson relying on connecting video games and related media with literature study.
Respondents were divided with regard to the pursuit of additional training for incorporating popular/contemporary culture into their lessons. A common trend prevalent among participants who pursued additional training appeared to focus on workshops pertaining to the inclusion of technology in the classroom. Most of the respondents who said they had not pursued further training had been teaching for less than twenty years. One teacher felt her modern culture references were appropriate because she, herself, was close to her students’ ages and thus shared a common cultural link.
Comparatively few teachers polled indicated an awareness of the increasing body of research literature that focuses on the incorporation video games and related media into the curriculum.The present researcher found that the majority of the sample was willing to explore the possibility of including videogame media in their lessons, and that the current exclusion of such was the result of ignorance on the matter. Some felt strongly in their conviction that such material had no place in their content area, but others felt it could be tapped as a possible resource for future lessons.