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Studies show that poor media literacy has a negative impact on students


When you look at Communications Assistant Professor Kevin John’s office, it becomes clear that he is an avid media consumer. Among other things, there are Star Wars paraphernalia in his office. But John is not your average media consumer. His goal is to be critical when it comes to media of all kinds and tries to teach his students to do the same.

Recent studies have shown that students have difficulty thinking critically about media and assessing its credibility, especially online.

A study published last year by the Stanford Graduate School of Education that tested the media literacy of high school, high school and college students found that most young people do not have a good understanding of what “fake news” compares to real news News are.

More than 7,800 students at all academic levels tested were provided with information on social media, news articles and commentary. The study found the following:

  • 82 percent of middle school students couldn’t tell the difference between sponsored articles and real news.
  • Most high school students didn’t bother checking where the photos came from on the internet and blindly accepted the given context of the photos.
  • Many high school students couldn’t tell the difference between a real news article and a real-looking fake news article on social media. In fact, in one particular example, more than 30 percent of high school students tested found a post claiming to be from Fox News more reliable than one that was actually from Fox News.
  • Of the Stanford college students tested, more than 80 percent could not classify biased content from independent news sources endorsed by groups such as lobbying firms as less reliable than a mainstream news source.

John, who teaches a class called Media Effects, tries to instill a sense of critical thinking in his students when viewing any type of media.

“When it comes to my classes, I want them to know right away that it’s okay to question any communication,” said John.

John gave an example of a hypothetical situation that he uses in his class to illustrate media bias. In the example, two news channels are reporting on a snow storm, but one focuses on the dangerous road conditions and the other focuses on children playing in the snow.

“On a news story, they tell you what they think are the important details, but what is important may depend on the opinion of the news director that day or the familiarity of the people involved,” said John. “All of these things that come together to determine newsworthiness. There is room for opinion and there is room for bias because whenever we deal with people we are dealing with bias. “

John also uses this example to emphasize the importance of being media literate.

“A media literate would realize that (any story) is an area at some point, but that more is going on,” said John. “So media literacy requires a certain amount of activity on the part of the viewer.”

Sara Van Tuyl, a major history teacher, interns at Timpview High School, who teaches US history to juniors. As part of her teaching, Van Tuyl makes a point of teaching her students how to evaluate historical and news sources.

“When we do these activities, we make sure that when you look at modern sources, you are forced to corroborate them,” said Van Tuyl.

Following the publication of the Stanford study, the Stanford History Education Group released a website with tools teachers can use to teach media literacy and civic thinking to young students. Van Tuyl uses some of these tools when teaching her high school students.

“I think a lot of the tools Stanford University they provide are very useful because some of the things they offer are specifically designed for historical thinking, and historical thinking skills are also designed for critical thinking of modern news and events are required, ”Van said Tuyl.

Van Tuyl hopes she can help students make informed decisions by teaching how to evaluate historical and modern news sources.

“My goal is that when I leave this class my students will be able to look at news sources and, whether they agree or disagree, know how to verify the source,” Van Tuyl told Es it is important that they learn as they go on, because in a few years they will be able to choose. “

Another group in Bethesda, Maryland, the News Literacy Project, is working on improving media literacy, according to a spring 2017 article by Nieman Reports entitled “Can News Literacy Be Taught?” The group, led by former Los Angeles Times reporter Alan Miller, is also developing tools for educators to teach media literacy to students. In addition, they are working on creating public service announcements about fake news and news literacy.

Kris Boyle, Assistant Professor of News Media at BYU, believes that social media has good and bad effects on how news is accessed and rated. On the one hand, social media has made news more accessible to people; on the other hand, the increased volume of news on social media has made analysis a little more difficult.

“There are people who take what they see on social media as real news at face value,” Boyle said.

As a college professor, Boyle sees his job as teaching his students how to become good journalists using reliable sources in their stories. In this way, they can help other Americans become better media literate and gain their trust.

“Because of this, I really immerse myself in what I do at BYU,” said Boyle. “Because the students here at BYU receive the kind of education that makes them good, solid journalists and truth seekers and multipliers who can convey the truth and accuracy about what they share.”

Tips for more education. (Laura Spilsbury)

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