Fact or fiction: can students discern real from fake news?

mobile-phone-426559_640With everyone talking about the preponderance of fake news stories circulating on Facebook, it’s important to remember that evaluating sources for accuracy has long been a problem, especially for students. Credo performed a nation-wide survey polling thousands of college students and faculty and found that students consistently overestimate their ability to evaluate sources when compared to their professors. 54% of students expressed confidence that they could accurately evaluate sources; only 16% of faculty shared that opinion.

The short video below is a good place to start when it comes to helping students decipher fact from fiction in the news around them. It outlines the five commonly used criteria for evaluating a resource: Authority, Accuracy, Currency, Relevance, and Objectivity.

As the fake news story trends across all media outlets, print, digital, real, and false, many articles have been written about how to spot fake stories (like this one from CNN). That’s all well and good for addressing our immediate concerns, however the real problem is much deeper: we aren’t doing enough to teach students critical thinking skills. For example, the Credo survey mentioned above predates the fake news story by over a year. We will continue to be plagued by stories like this until we address the root causes for why people fall for bad information.