A scaffolded approach to developing students analysis and communication skills Faculty Spark - View, reflect and apply

Last updated on 23/07/2019

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A scaffolded approach to developing students analysis and communication skills


In a first year communication course, a scaffolded assessment item enhanced the communication and analysis skills of students. Students are required to analyse a media text (‘media message’) and provide a rationale on how it has been influential.


What is it that makes a cultural artefact influential? It is a question that confounds many. In a first year communication course, students unpack this very question through a media message analysis. In this assessment item, students must analyse and develop a sound argument for how a particular media text has been influential either within their own culture or cross-culturally.


The ability to effectively communicate and analyse ideas, arguments or concepts are key capabilities for students. In a first year course, Fundamentals of Communication (1506LHS), a scaffolded assessment item was created to enhance students analytical and communication capabilities.

The Media Message Analysis is a two-part assessment, worth a total of 40 per cent of the overall grade (each component weighted equally). The aim of this assessment is to encourage students to “critically think through a media message” of the students choice (1506LHS Course Profile). This may include a song, poster, television show, film or book. Some previous examples include: John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine,’ the original Star Wars film, and Martin Luther King Jr's ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Part one
The first part of the assessment requires students to conduct research and develop a 1,000 word paper which addresses the following components:

  1. Describe the artefact;
  2. Provide details of when the artefact first appeared in public, including how people came to know about it;
  3. Provide details of who created the artefact and what the reception to the artefact has been;
  4. Justify why the artefact has become culturally important and significant.

Within this component, students are assessed on their: organisation of ideas; content; referencing; and degree of analysis.

Part two
In the second component of this assessment, students must distill their key arguments and present an engaging three minute pitch to their class. In this pitch, students must succinctly articulate why the artefact has had influence or impact in either Australia or internationally.

  • Within this component, students are assessed on the following:
  • Their ability to meet the three limit time frame;
  • Their understanding of how the message was created, sent and received;
  • Their ability to communicate the influence of this artefact;
  • Clear and confident presentation.


Students have indicated that they appreciate the opportunity to choose a media text for analysis. It provides them with the flexibility to analyse something that is of particular interest to them, which has also enhanced their engagement with the course content.


If you are thinking about implementing this approach, consider the following:

  • Emphasise to students the flexibility in the choice of media text that they choose to present on;
  • Provide students with support including an exemplar. Encourage students to discuss potential ideas with you to ensure that the sheer range of options do not seem overwhelming;
  • Clearly communicate the expectations from the assessment. Walk your students through the rubric prior to the commencement of the assessment.

Griffith Graduate Attributes

This assessment item clearly aligns the following Griffith Graduate Attributes:

  1. Knowledgeable and skilled with critical judgement;
  2. Effective communicators and collaborators;
  3. Innovative, creative and entrepreneurial.

This assessment item requires students to communicate their analysis of an artefact and provide a rationale for why they believe that artefact is culturally significant.

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Preferred Citation

Feldman-Barrett, C., & Learning Futures. (2019). A scaffolded approach to developing students analysis and communication skills. Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/5525/view