Exploring literary perspectives of poetry though an interactive, multimedia, learning environment

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation focuses on the development and evaluation of an interactive, multimedia learning environment intended to help college students learn how to interpret poetry from various literary perspectives. Four literary perspectives--feminist, psychological, religious, and reader-response--were thoroughly explained and applied to a poem through the use of "hot words". As the students chose a hot word or phrase in the poem that they wanted to explore further, they then chose which literary perspective that they wanted to see. A literary interpretation, then, was given below the poem from that perspective. At the same time, responses from other students who had gone through the program before also appeared. The current student participant had the choice of responding in writing to the poem itself, the given literary interpretation, or the other student responses. There were also photographs, videos, and music clips that could be accessed which illustrated the literary interpretations of the particular hot words chosen, and the students could respond to these as well.

The research questions that were being asked through the development and evaluation of this program were:

  1. Can such a technological approach help students to learn something as nontechnical as evaluating and interpreting poetry from various literary perspectives?

  2. Will students become more sensitive and understanding of the opinions of others, even when extremely different from their own, through such a computer program?

  3. Will students be able to analyze a poem in greater depth because of going through this program, instead of just looking for the usual, surface level, literal meanings?

The results of the program were very encouraging, with ninety-eight percent of the student participants indicating that the program was effective, and the desired results were achieved with the majority of these. The students overall showed remarkable growth in understanding literary theories, in becoming more sensitive to the opinions of others, and in being able to interpret poetry at a much deeper level. Due to these exciting results, several ways of adapting this program to other educational and economic pursuits were explored, as well as ways to improve the current product.



multimedia, interactive, tutorial, Robert Frost, literary criticism