Last week, Stanford researchers released a “bleak” report showing that more than 80 percent of students can’t determine the difference between real and fake news. (Alas, it seems this is something adults struggle with, as well.)
The severity of students’ lack of media literacy was shocking to the study’s authors who were “taken aback by students’ lack of preparation…Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there. Our work shows the opposite.”
What to do about this? I’m going to start by using Stanford’s own assessment tools with my students. These two worksheets (click on the images below) will serve as a pre-test of sorts to assess where students are with their reasoning when it comes to media consumption and to help them focus their critical lens.
Click here for worksheet #1, where students will examine whether items on a Salon.com homepage are news articles or paid advertisements:
Click here for worksheet #2, where students will examine whether a photograph of mutated daisies is evidence of contamination from a nuclear power plant:
These two handouts are just a starting point for what should be an ongoing conversation about what sources of information should (and should not) be deemed trustworthy. In the report, the authors also mentioned that Stanford’s education team is hoping to create a series of lesson plans to help develop students’ “civic online reasoning.” Can’t wait to see what they build.
Teach on, everyone!
Note: These materials are the property of Stanford’s History Education Group. I modified them to be more printer-friendly for teachers and included simplified answer keys to help streamline scoring. The full, original report and assessment materials can be accessed by clicking here.