Checking what students know about checking the news

Date Posted: May 30, 2019 Last Modified: May 30, 2019
Checking what students know about checking the news Photo: Wokandapix, Pixabay

This study aims to assess students' capabilities in assessing the veracity of information found on social media. In a previous study of student attitudes after the presidential elections, the authors found 72% students having used social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) as a source of election news. A previous study by Stanford University found middle school, high school and college students students facing difficulty in discerning fake and real news articles. The purpose this study's survey is to gather more information about the sources used by high school students to obtain news and what steps they take to judge the credibility of those sources. 

  • Over 90% of the students said they were aware of traditional news outlets like CNN, Fox News . There was lesser awareness about non-traditional sources which tended to have particular political biases like The Blaze and Natural News.
  • Students also reported using secondary news sources of which YouTube, Facebook and Twitter were the most common. Discussion boards, blog sites, and Tumblr were used much less frequently. Thirteen percent of the students reported not using any secondary sources.
  • Traditional news sites like the 'The New York time' received the highest credibility rating. However, 51% of the students reported sites which were misleading as accurate.
  • The most common fact-checking the students conducted involved checking the website's name (81%) or the domain name (78%). Fewer students reported reading other articles by the author (39%) or doing a reverse image search or using fact-checking websites like PolitiFact, Snopes, or Open Secrets.
  • The study recommends schools and districts to develop better courses for students on how to differentiate between fake, false and misleading news. Students should further be encouraged to prioritise fact-checking in their reading and work too.