New Media, New Literacy: Learning from the Youth of Philadelphia and Chester

A PSU member controls the soundboard at a local radio station, WPEB in West Philadelphia. (J. Morris, 8/2010)

In 2010-11, Joslyn Young spent a year in residence at Research for Action as a Stoneleigh Junior Fellow. Her work examined media literacy at two out-of-school programs: The Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) and Chester Voices for Change (VFC). With an emphasis on how adolescents learned, participated, and engaged in these youth-led programs, Joslyn’s research focused on the role of media literacy and how the students’ learning and ability to think critically and conceptually was affected. The following portal of information aims to:

  • Highlight key research findings about the role of media literacy and its effect on student learning;
  • Offer suggestions for resources for practitioners and researchers interested in media literacy;
  • Document a year of work as a Stoneleigh Junior Fellow.
Any questions or suggestions should be directed to Alison Murawski, Communications Director, at Any further questions about the research should be directed to the researcher, Joslyn Young.

About the Researcher

Joslyn Young spent 2010-11 in residence at Research for Action as a Stoneleigh Junior Fellow.  Joslyn conducted a research project that focused on how adolescents use media production as a form of literacy in afterschool programs. Her work focused on student motivation and learning in media production and how it compared to in-school learning. Joslyn’s interest in youth media literacy stemmed from her own work as a high school journalist. The experience of sharing stories through articles solidified her appreciation for media as a way to raise voices and build connections. While she was a student at Swarthmore College, Joslyn received a Lang Opportunity Scholarship and developed a plan to build on her existing interests in media and education by training Chester youth in media production. The scholarship, along with other support from local community partners and professors, helped her to establish Chester Voices for Change in the summer of 2009.  The VFC program allowed teens in Chester, Pennsylvania to work collaboratively to produce meaningful films about issues in their community. Joslyn has continued to pursue her interest in youth media through her opportunities as a Stoneleigh Junior Fellow at Research for Action. She has become an active member of the media literacy community both locally and nationally, and she hopes to find ways to support young producers throughout her future as an educator.

Partnering Organizations

Philadelphia Student Union

Stoneleigh Foundation

Chester Voices for Change

Research Page

Access the Research page to learn more about the following questions:
  • How do youth learn and participate in media literacy programs?
  • Why do youth engage in media literacy?
  • What do youth learn, academically and practically, by participating in media literacy?

The Research Page contains videos on the research sites and methodology and also gives you access to download Joslyn’s short papers on her key findings.

Presentations Page

Throughout the year, Joslyn shared her work with a variety of audiences. Access the Presentations page to view narrated videos of her presentations at the following conferences:

On the Presentations Page, you may also download Joslyn’s presentations and handouts.

Resources Page

The Resources page offers suggestions for practitioners, researchers, and other stakeholders interested in media literacy education, including:

  • Key texts , both new and traditional;
  • Links to examples and suggestions for using media literacy in the classroom;
  • Lists of communities and organizations that support and inspire media literacy educators.

VFC gets ready for a scene. (J. Young, 7/2009)


Stoneleigh Foundation

Special thanks to the Stoneleigh Foundation for its support during my fellowship at Research for Action, and for the guidance, feedback and community. For more information about the Stoneleigh Foundation and its Junior Fellowship, please visit or contact Julia Boerth at

Philadelphia Student Union & Chester Voices for Change

The Philadelphia Student Union and Chester Voices of Change served as research sites for this year-long project. The participants and staff at PSU were welcoming, helpful, and inspiring, and the students involved in VFC played a central role in forming my future plans. To learn more about the work of VFC, please visit or contact Joslyn Young at To learn more about PSU and its organizing work, please visit or contact Megan Williamson at

Research for Action

Finally, thanks to Research for Action for a welcoming and intellectually-inspiring workplace during my fellowship year. Special thanks to Senior Research Fellow Eva Gold who acted as my supervisor and provided me with intellectual guidance, direction, mentoring and helpful feedback during my year of research and writing. Alison Murawski, Communications Director, and Briana Pressey, Communications Assistant/intern, worked tirelessly to coordinate production of the website portal and briefs. Thanks finally to Executive Director Kate Shaw and the rest of the staff at RFA for their collegiality and support.

Thank you all for your efforts,

Joslyn Young