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The CURA publications library is currently being digitized by the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy. When the project is complete, the entire CURA publications library will be online and fully searchable. Unfortunately, during this process we are not able to honor individual requests for publications . Additionally, we no longer have physical copies of publications to send out.

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Redefining Academic Rigor: Documentary Film Making in the New English/Language Arts Classroom.

Dockter, Jessica and Cynthia Lewis.

Research in education, and the field of literacy in particular, demonstrates that students from diverse social backgrounds perform better academically when classroom features include analytic thinking, substantive conversations with real-world audiences, and connections to the world beyond the classroom. Despite previous research that has identified complex intellectual activities as key features of effective English/Language Arts teaching and learning, additional research that explores how a rigorous curriculum plays out in classrooms as they function within high-poverty, urban high schools is needed. The research described in this article seeks to fill that gap by closely examining student engagement in an English class with a rigorous curriculum in a high-poverty, urban school. The research focused on a classroom in which the teacher is a veteran in the district who is committed to providing all students with opportunities for complex intellectual engagement, using a curriculum that is not literature-based, but is instead focused primarily on media analysis and documentary film production. The goal of the study was to better understand the promises and pressures students and teachers face in urban high-school English classrooms, and to characterize how rigor and critical engagement are defined and enhanced through classroom talk and tools related to reading, writing, media analysis, and media production. The authors also consider the ways in which students' identities and the context of their schooling contribute to a rigorous curriculum. The article includes recommendations for educational policy regarding a 'New English/Language Arts' curriculum that redefine academic rigor with varied forms of text and students' participation in the production of knowledge.

CURA Reporter
Publication date: 
Minneapolis: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota.
Supported in part through a grant from CURA's New Initiative program. Additional funding provided by the Spencer Foundation and the Margaret Virum Endowment.
39 (3-4): 11-17.
Online availability
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CURA call number: 
Reporter 39 (3-4)

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