Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Understanding Young People's Information Literacy Beliefs and Practices in the United States
Metzger, M. et al (2015). Believing the Unbelievable: Understanding Young People's Information Literacy Beliefs and Practices in the United States. Journal of Children and Media, 9 (3), 325-348.
This is a study of young people's credibility judgements about websites (e.g. could they identify hoax websites). "2,747 responses were obtained from children [in the USA] between the ages of 11–17 years plus 18-year olds still residing with their parents." The researchers formed hypotheses that various factors would affect credibility judgements. The older children were better at evaluating websites (as had been hypothesised) but there was no correlation between higher economic status and evaluation skill.
"Across all outcomes except believing the hoax websites, the thinking style variables—including need for cognition, flexible thinking, and faith in intuition—emerged as the strongest predictors of young people's awareness of credibility problems and information evaluation skill. Overall, and as predicted, being open to various and conflicting perspectives and liking to think hard about problems lead to higher reported use of more effortful credibility evaluation tactics, while faith in intuition and trusting others lead young people to be more trusting of online information."
However, having had teaching in how to evaluate websites did not necessarily improve people's skill in spotting hoax websites "these findings suggest that young people might be using the evaluation techniques they have learned they should use (or perhaps just reporting that they use these techniques) without understanding their purpose." It is recommended that children should be taught the purpose of evaluation, rather than a checklist of how to evaluate.
Photo by Sheila Webber: trees moving to autumn, September 2015