Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bennett A. Rafoth, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Linda Norris, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Thomas J. Slater, Ph.D.


Film in composition: Developing critical thinking skills through the study of film in first-year composition presents an investigation of the application of film study in college writing instruction. The first two chapters argue for the inclusion of film in the teaching of writing; explore the cultural, social, and political relevance of film for the field of composition; and present a review of the theoretical and pedagogical applications of film study in secondary English and first-year writing courses. The third chapter presents a qualitative study completed from April 2006 to April 2007. It details the methodology of the research project, the data collection and analysis of nineteen teacher interviews, six classroom observations, and an assortment of artifacts (e.g., syllabi, course readings, film selections, writing prompts, student writing, student surveys). This data have been coded and organized into reports, appearing in the latter half of the dissertation. Chapters four and five present the cross-case analyses of two southern California community college writing classrooms. They examine the analytical frameworks (e.g., narrative-cultural and cinematic-rhetorical analyses) teachers implement to hone student critical thinking skills. The examination of analytical frameworks leads to the sixth chapter, which explores the implications of these teaching practices. This discussion closes the dissertation, providing final thoughts and arguments for including film in composition as a way to improve intellectual skills that are necessary for a critical academic literacy.