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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Education through Movies: Improving teaching skills and fostering reflection among students and teachers.


Learning through aesthetics—in which cinema is included—stimulates learner reflection. As emotions play key roles in learning attitudes and changing behavior, teachers must impact learners affective domain. Since feelings exist before concepts, the affective path is a critical path to the rational process of learning. Cinema is the audiovisual version of storytelling. It enhances emotions and therefore sets up the foundation for conveying concepts. Movie experiences act like emotional memories for developing attitudes and keeping them as reflective reference in the daily activities and events. To foster reflection is the main goal in this cinematic teaching set. The purpose is not to show the audience how to incorporate a particular attitude, but rather to promote their reflection and to provide a forum for discussion. In this paper, the authors relate their experiences in cinematic teaching, particularly the effectiveness of the movie-clip methodology, in which multiple movie clips are shown in rapid sequence, along with facilitator comments while the clips are shown. The movie clip method can improve faculty teaching and stimulate their professional growth.  Teachers seldom think about themselves and usually lack the time to disclose their feelings. However, they use their own emotions in teaching, so learning proper methods to address their affective side is a complementary way to improve their communication with students. This methodology offers a special environment for fostering open-hearted discussions, helps teachers improve their self-knowledge, and develop closer relationships with colleagues and students through the affective domain. In this paper the authors want to share the methodology and a summary of their experiences in teaching. Although the authors’ field is mostly medical education they have also had some cinematic teaching experience with other audiences, and consequently they want to share with a extensive community of educators. An Appendix is included at the end, with a collection of movie scenes the authors frequently use in medical education.

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