Reality TV in the College Classroom

                 Rockler-Gladen (2006) stated that college students enjoy watching reality television.  Rockler-Gladen proposed that since college students enjoy watching reality television, it should be utilized as a teaching resource for the college classroom.  Teachers can use episodes from reality television shows to illustrate lessons in sociology, psychology, gender studies, media studies, and marketing.  College students relate to reality TV, which is why it can be a useful teaching tool. 

                Reality shows feature social dynamics, which is why it would relate to sociology.  Shows like “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and “The Real World” feature an artificial creation of societies.  They demonstrate power struggles and friendship formation.  They also feature human dynamics (Rockler-Gladen, 2006). 

                Some of the contestants on reality programs show signs of psychological disorders.  They fit the textbook definition of people with certain psychological disorders.  Rockler-Gladen (2006) claimed that “Flavor of Love” and “America’s Top Model” feature people with certain personality disorders. 

                Some reality shows portray women negatively.  Students can discuss how gender roles are portrayed on these reality shows.  It would be interesting to see how students react to women whose self-esteem is dependent on receiving rose in the show “The Bachelor.”  The idea of objectification can be taught via an episode of “Deal or No Deal” featuring models in identical dresses (Rockler-Gladen, 2006). 

                Teachers can teach a media studies class based on reality television.  Some schools have already implemented this into their curriculum.  Rockler-Gladen (2006) stated that one topic of discussion could be how reality television reflects the changing economics of television through low-budget production of programs.  “Queer Eye” demonstrates how television content promotes consumerism and portrays gay men both positively and negatively. 

                One example of show a marketing reality show is “The Apprentice.”  Students can be asked to discuss the performance of the contestants with their marketing tasks.  They can also be asked to come up with their own, unique marketing strategy.  There are other reality shows that have a marketing angle.  After watching these shows, students can be asked to think of effective product placement marketing strategies (Rockler-Gladen, 2006).

References

Rockler-Gladen, N. (2006). Reality tv as a teacher resource.

                Suite101.

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