Value of Journalism Courses Examined

April 29, 1987 1 min read

College students who have taken journalism courses in high school or who have worked on their high-school newspapers and yearbooks score higher on various standardized tests than students who have not had such experiences, a new study has found.

Conducted by the Journalism Education Association’s commission on the role of journalism in secondary education in cooperation with the American College Testing Program, the two-year study was undertaken to determine the value of journalism courses and experiences at the high-school level.

An examination of the records of 19,250 college students who had taken ACT assessments during the 1982-83 school year found that the 4,800 students who had served on the staffs of their high-school newspapers or yearbooks achieved higher composite scores in English and social studies than their counterparts who had not worked on high-school publications.

In addition, the study found that, out of 1,200 college students who had taken ACT standardized writing tests as college freshmen in 1984-85, those with high-school newspaper or yearbook experience achieved “significantly higher’’ scores.

The study also concluded that college students with high-school journalism experience generally earn higher cumulative grade-point averages as college freshmen and make better grades in their first college English classes.

Concrete Evidence

“This is the first time that concrete evidence has been collected to support what many journalism teachers have long contended ... that an academic-based journalism program coordinated with good publications is most valuable in teaching high-school students to write effectively,’' said John Wheeler, the commission’s chairman and a high-school journalism teacher.

In its report, the commission recommends that high-school journalism courses carry credit toward graduation equivalent to that given any other language-arts writing course; that colleges accept such credit; that minimum standards be established for certifying precollegiate journalism teachers; and that curricular standards be established for academic journalism courses.

Copies of the report, “High School Journalism Confronts Critical Deadline,’' are available for $8.50 each from the Journalism Education Association, Box 99, Blue Springs, Mo. 64015. A digest of the full report is available for $3.50.

A version of this article appeared in the April 29, 1987 edition of Education Week as Value of Journalism Courses Examined