Type: For clients

Waiting for “Superman”

Tracing impact from film to education reform



The Challenge

In the fall of 2010, the Ford Foundation commissioned HI to evaluate the influence of the documentary film Waiting for “Superman,” a feature-length depiction of the state of public education in the United States, on audiences and institutions. Over six months, HI sought to examine the film’s narrative effect on the public’s perception of education issues, and the degree to which Waiting for “Superman” had a ripple effect on program development in organizations tied to the film.


The Approach

HI used its innovative methodology for entertainment evaluation to assess the influence of Waiting for “Superman.” Various research methods, including content and sentiment analysis, focus groups, in-depth interviews, online surveys, and online trending all helped HI uncover how the film’s messages were interpreted and discussed by education leaders and the general public.

In addition, HI examined whether Waiting for “Superman” triggered audiences to take action in support of education reform and how organizations affiliated with the film’s outreach effort saw it impact their communities and programs.


The Result

HI presented its findings to the Ford Foundation in May 2011 with an internal report. Summary Highlights are available for download, depicting some of the most compelling findings on audience perception from the study.