There are many excellent video documentaries that are relevant for adolescence-focused classes. Video documentaries provide compelling real-life examples of adolescents to illustrate theories, issues, and concepts in a way that compliments written text.
Here is an extensive Teaching Psychology resource that gives tips on how to use documentaries as an effective teaching tool. This resource also has a list of many documentaries for psychology in general, including Developmental, Social, and Clinical Psychology:
In my Adolescent Psychology class (about 150 students), after watching a video students write responses to several questions. For instance, for Inside the Teenage Brain I ask students:
1. How are adolescent brains different from adult brains?
2. How might the findings from research on the teen brain be applied to real life? (e.g., teen drivers’ licensing laws, criminal sentencing, the amount of freedom teens are given by parents…)
3. Optional: Was there anything surprising you learned about in the film?
Students submit their responses on the class website. As my T.A. and I are going through the responses we select several of the most interesting, provocative, or well-articulated responses and put these on a powerpoint slide. I present these in class and use them as a jumping point for class discussion.
Below is a link to my favorite videos. I have noted what topics they cover, have provided links to descriptions of these videos, and for some of them (such as the Frontline videos), you can access them for free online. If you have a favorite video you would like to share, please let me know and we will add them to the list.
By Linda Juang
Associate Editor, Teaching
Image by Anthony Brown/AdobeStock