January 10, 2022
Combating the Infodemic: How to help schools debunk scientific myths
Misinformation about the pandemic may have cost lives. Fortunately, the Land of Lincoln is on the forefront of teaching students Media Literacy.
Fake news isn’t new—it became widespread when early newspapers demonstrated their power over public opinion. And while we now have access to more information than ever before in human history, misinformation has evolved into a potent tool to seed social conflict. Research shows that people who believed false information were also more likely to refuse to take vaccines.
In response, Illinois was the first state in the US to require all high school students to take a Media Literacy course. Starting in the 2022–2023 school year, Illinois high schoolers will be required to learn how to be socially responsible consumers and creators of media content.
We at CPASS recommend that communities focus on these strategies to help serve all students:
Media Literacy course development. The Illinois Media Literacy Coalition worked with scholars and educators to create a framework for the new Media Literacy course. The Illinois Civics Hub developed a Media Literacy toolkit that will be helpful for teachers and school leaders.
Gamification. Cognitive psychologists recently found that using online fake news games helps students better identify clickbait and emotionally driven headlines. Games such as Bad News, National Geographic’s Real or Fake, and Go Viral! have been utilized to help debunk misinformation.
Family involvement. Research shows that one of the most effective ways to debunk anti-science myths is to share clear scientific evidence from trustworthy, independent sources. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) highlights that “parents are children’s first science teachers.” The NSTA recommends exploring open-ended questions with children from a young age and acknowledging that adults don’t know all the answers. EdTechReview recommends that parents talk with children about the stories they are reading online and ask them if the stories include quotes, external links, and sources. Children can also benefit from apps like Circle that filter fake news and allow parents to block specific websites.
At CPASS Foundation, we are here to support traditionally underrepresented middle school, high school, and college students by introducing them to STEM subjects, majors, and training. We provide guidance and thought leadership to help create opportunities for students in Illinois to participate in STEM-related fields. Contact Dr. Stephen Martin to learn more about how you can partner with CPASS Foundation to create more opportunities for Black and other underrepresented students in the Chicago area.