Communication Studies (CMNS) 420

Topics in Communication: Children and Media (Revision 1)

CMNS 420 Course website

Revision 1 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study with video/audio components.* Online-enhanced.
*Overseas students, please contact the University Library before registering in a course that has an audio/visual component.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None. CMNS 301 and CMNS 302 are recommended.

Precluded course: CMNS 420 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under 2 different disciplines—HSRV 420. (CMNS 420 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for HSRV 420)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Communication Studies home page

Course website

CMNS 420 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course examines issues of literacy and agency as they pertain to questions of children’s relationship to texts and materials in media of many kinds: books, films, broadcast and recorded programs, CD-ROMs, computer programs, video games, Internet texts, and various toys and associated commodities. These media affect how children develop an understanding of society and of the way society chooses to tell stories and organize information. In turn, these media are affected by social arrangements and decisions.


Upon completion of CMNS 420, students should be able to achieve the following course learning objectives.

  1. Understand how children make sense of the world through the social and intellectual tools at their disposal, and how developments in media technology affect the ways in which this process occurs.
  2. Recognize the institutional frameworks that affect children's exposure to and awareness of media technologies.
  3. Assess the role of media processes in the communication of texts, with an emphasis on reception rather than on production.
  4. Recognize the need for children to develop sensitivity to how different media construct images and understanding.
  5. Consider questions of formal and informal media education for young children.
  6. Develop frameworks for assessing material for young people in a variety of formats.
  7. Appreciate how little is known about children's response to different media.


Children and Media draws on the perspective of children's activities and is organized into six themes:

Part I: Viewing

  • Unit 1: Television Viewing
  • Unit 2: Video and Film Viewing

Part II: Listening

  • Unit 3: Listening to Music
  • Unit 4: Listening to Text

Part III: Reading

  • Unit 5: Reading Print
  • Unit 6: Reading Illustrated Text

Part IV: Interacting

  • Unit 7: Video Games and CD-ROMs
  • Unit 8: Using Computers
  • Unit 9: Selling Interaction

Part V: Producing

  • Unit 10: Producing

Part VI: Responding

  • Unit 11: Responding


To receive credit for CMNS 420, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a mark of at least 60 percent on the major essay, a minimum mark of 50 percent on the final examination, and obtain a course composite grade of at least "D" (50 percent). The weighting of the composite mark is as follows:

Two Media-based Assignments Major Essay Final Exam Total
40% 30% 30% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


The course materials also include a study guide, student manual, instructions for optional computer conference, and a reading file.

Special Course Feature

Students registered in this course may take part in computer conferencing.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, 1998.

View previous syllabus