Lateral Reading on the Open Internet
57 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2021 Last revised: 9 May 2022
Date Written: November 15, 2021
Young people turn to the Internet to become informed about the issues that concern them and their communities. How can they learn to distinguish credible information from sham? In a study conducted in an urban school district, we tested a classroom-based intervention in which students were taught evaluation strategies derived from research with professional fact checkers. We provided professional development to high school teachers who then implemented six 1-hour lessons across three months in a district-mandated government course. Using a matched/control design, students in treatment classrooms (n = 271) were compared to peers (n = 228) in regular classrooms. A cluster-randomized, repeated-measures analysis showed that students in experimental classrooms grew significantly in their ability to judge the credibility of digital content compared to students in control classrooms. We conclude by addressing how the study’s findings inform efforts to prepare students to make sense of the information that streams across their digital devices.
Keywords: Media literacy, digital literacy, civic education
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