Do your students feel that anything they see on the Internet is truth? Do they take the word of social media over what they have read in class? Do you want to help them develop critical thinking skills, but don't know how? Well here are some very useful tips I ran across recently.
Information Literacy Skills for Social Media
Information literacy entails the ability to evaluate the credibility of an information source and the quality of the evidence presented. Traditionally, these decisions have been directed at print media. We want students to differentiate between scholarly, peer-reviewed sources, and other types of print media.
With the advent of the internet, we need to direct students’ attention to how to evaluate the credibility of web sites as information sources. More recently, these concerns extend to social media.
The challenge of fake news and inaccurate, biased web sites is not new, although concerns over fake news are heightened in the past year. Instructors may want to include formal instruction about how to evaluate the accuracy of information in a news story or on a web site and how to evaluate the credibility of these sources.
The CRAAP Test (2010) identifies six criteria readers should use to evaluate the credibility of information:
Currency of the information (date of posting or publication)
Relevance of information for needs (consider the intended audience for the information)
Authority of the source (qualifications, for bias or conflict of interest)
Accuracy of the content (supported by evidence, peer-reviewed)
Purpose of the message (intended to inform, teach, entertain, persuade, or sell a product?)
FactCheck.org recently published blog posts with guidelines for evaluating the credibility of news stories and information circulated in chain e-mails. FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Their guidelines echo the criteria identified in the CRAAP Test:
Consider the source
Read beyond headlines for details that might contradict or modify the meaning of the headline
Evaluate supporting evidence (if any)
Check the date of publication
Consider whether the “news” is intended as satire
Consider your own biases (we tend to be less critical of sources that support our existing beliefs)
Consult expert authorities to corroborate assertions in the story
FactCheck.org produced a short YouTube video (3:22 min) that summarizes its guidelines for evaluating a social media source. You can use this in class or upload the link to your eLearning class.
To help your students even more ask one of the Bellarmine librarians to visit your classroom and discuss information literacy and how students can find credible sources for papers and projects.