New Study Reveals Less Time being devoted for News Literacy

Association of Educators
January 17, 2014 — 857 views  

The findings of a new report suggest that only half of American government teachers and high school civics dedicate one or more units for teaching their students the skills of analyzing the news critically. This study by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement included 720 teachers of the concerned subjects as participants. They were asked questions based on the courses they taught to their students in autumn of 2012.

Teachers Feel News-Literacy Skills are Important

On a whole, the study suggested that teachers give a lot of importance to news-literacy skills. 99 percent of them felt that students should have an idea of what is important and what is not in the vast sea of information available to the students. Around 90 percent of teachers made sure that they spent a minimum of one class session for developing this skill in students. But a mere 51 percent of teachers spent an entire unit or more on teaching it.

Overall, nine teachers out of ten felt confident while teaching certain news literacy elements, which included differentiating fact from fiction in this digital age, creating as well as consuming credible content, and understanding the need as well as importance of having a free press. The study also emphasized that just one thirds of the participating teachers felt 'very confident' about teaching these elements. However, a wide section of teachers displayed interest in getting more training in this field.

Teachers Keen on Having Discussions on Current Events

According to the report, around 53 percent of the teachers ensured that they incorporated discussions on current topics and events in their lessons daily. A third of the teachers agreed on doing this every week. What is important to note here is that this number may have likely increased given the proximity of the study with the presidential elections. According to CIRCLE, honor courses and Advanced Placement are more focused on adding information literacy as compared to other courses required for graduation.

Ben Adler, making a mention to this study by CIRLCE, wrote in an article in Columbia Journalism Review that Common Core State Standards don’t need news literacy but many educators and proponents believe that these programs, which are basically about critical thinking, will get popular as a method of teaching the skills that are demanded by Common Core. Walt Gardner, an opinion blogger for Education Week, also made a similar argument. However, what will be interesting to see is the follow-up study that may come out in a year or two.

Association of Educators