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Facilitating Critical Moral Reasoning Transformations Through Podcast Production and Praxis

Fri, April 17, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Virtual Room


This study explored students’ moral and social reasoning transformations between handwritten narratives about a personal conflict and digital podcast versions of the same conflict. Participants conducted independent, multimedia investigations into personal conflicts using journalistic strategies like interviewing and research. In this presentation, I examine how students’ choices to seek out diverse opinions and leave their comfort zones led to critical reasoning transformations about personal conflicts. However, the lack of an explicitly journalistic intention behind the project allowed some students to reaffirm uncritical viewpoints. This study demonstrates that multimedia production can stimulate moral and social reasoning transformations, and suggests that a journalistic framework could bring a critical lens to each stage of the proposed podcasting praxis.

Thirty-two high school students created handwritten narratives describing a personal conflict. Participants were then introduced to podcasting and digital production techniques using classroom iPads. Students collected interviews, media clips, and music to transform their narratives into podcasts.

I draw on Pasupathi & Wainryb’s (2010) theory of narrative moral agency, which argues that each time we construct a story about our lives and our actions, we have the chance to reconcile our beliefs, behavior, emotions, and ideas in a new way. This analysis examined changes in perspective, resolution, characters and storytelling complexity between students’ handwritten narratives and podcasts about the same personal conflict. Drawing on a social domain theory framework of moral development (Turiel, 1983) and research on critical consciousness (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008; Freire 1970, 1970), I argue that podcast production has the potential to facilitate critical reasoning transformations.

I acted as a participant observer and co-teacher of this curriculum unit, which was embedded into students’ regular Grade 10 Language Arts curriculum. Data collected included classwork, interviews, and digital copies of students’ podcasts. Narratives and podcasts were coded for existing theoretical categories and emergent categories. Paired-sample t-tests were conducted between narratives and podcasts to assess significant changes between mediums. Two students were selected for in-depth qualitative analyses.

I will provide examples of how students’ interviewing choices led to changes in reasoning. For example, Emory (pseudonym) wrote her handwritten narrative about her father who she claimed was homophobic. During her interview with her father, she is surprised by his answers and ultimately decides to reframe her characterization of him. Overall quantitative findings showed, among other things, a significant decrease in victim perspectives and an increase in active resolutions between narratives and podcasts. Simply transforming handwritten narratives into podcasts led students to arrive at different conclusions.
This suggests that engaging in multimedia production can help young people reevaluate issues, take into account new perspectives, and incorporate new information into their existing beliefs. I propose that the activities and ethical guidelines built into journalism education could stimulate critical moral reasoning transformations about issues beyond just personal conflicts.