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How do we assist teachers about
understanding the First Amendment?

Posted by on Feb 12, 2017 in Blog, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

The Knight Foundation’s recently released 2016 study of student and teacher beliefs, Future of the First Amendment, reported teacher responses that raise First Amendment concerns.

Teacher results showed:
• When asked if  high school students should be allowed to report on controversial issues in their student newspapers without the approval of school authorities, 66 percent of students strongly or mildly agreed. Teachers had a 61 percent disapproval rate.
• When asked whether students should be allowed to express their opinions about teachers and school administrators on Facebook or other social media without worrying about being punished by teachers or school administrators for what they say, 33 percent of teachers strongly or mildly agreed while 54 percent of students did.
• When asked whether schools should be allowed to discipline students who post material on social media outside of school that school officials say is offensive, 28 percent of students strongly or mildly agree while 52 percent of  teachers did.

To get a better idea of how journalism education organizations can react to these findings, we would appreciate your thoughts:

• How can journalism teachers reach out to their peers who don’t understand journalistic freedoms or the importance of those freedoms?
• How can journalism teachers reach out to their non-journalism peers  who don’t support journalistic freedoms for scholastic media about the importance of those freedoms?
• What types of materials should JEA develop to assist these teachers?
• How can journalism teachers and media advisers support other journalism teachers who face prior review and restraint of student media (especially those who do not or cannot attend JEA conventions)?
• How can journalism teachers and media advisers support other journalism  teachers who don’t support freedom of expression for scholastic media  (especially those who do not or cannot attend JEA conventions)?
• What additional resources or materials should JEA develop to support journalism and non-journalism teachers  (especially those who do not or cannot attend JEA conventions)?
• Other comments or suggestions?

Please use the comment section below or contact SPRC current director John Bowen or committee member Lori Keekley with your thoughts.

The Knight Foundation survey, compiled by Kenneth Dautrich of the Stats Group, polled 11,998 high students and 726 teachers. It is the sixth Knight FoundationFuture of the First Amendment since 2004. Past results can be found here.

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What our tech-savvy kids don’t know

Posted by on Nov 28, 2016 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 1 comment

by Candace Bowen, MJE
Foundations_mainThey may be digital natives with instincts that allow them to use the latest app and easily share photos and video on social media platforms, but when it comes to evaluating information they access on the web, those from middle school through college aren’t nearly as knowledgeable as some might think.

In fact, they can’t tell an ad from a news story or hate group propaganda from factual material from a respected news outlet. In fact, the Stanford History Education Group described students’ reasoning ability when it comes to Internet information as “bleak.”

The group’s 18-month project, “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning,” looked at “the ability to judge the credibility of information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets and computers.”

From January 2015 to June 2016, the researchers developed and administered assessments to 7,804 students in 12 states, from inner-city LA to suburban Minneapolis, and at six different universities from those with tough admission standards to state schools that accept most applicants.

As the group’s recently released report states, “For every challenge facing this nation, there are scores of websites pretending to be something they are not. Ordinary people once relied on publishers, editors, and subject matter experts to vet the information they consumed. But on the unregulated Internet, all bets are off.”

As the group’s recently released report states, “For every challenge facing this nation, there are scores of websites pretending to be something they are not. Ordinary people once relied on publishers, editors, and subject matter experts to vet the information they consumed. But on the unregulated Internet, all bets are off.”

To get an idea of just how much these students really know about the Internet, the researchers tested their understanding of a range of information that appears on social media and other Internet venues. For instance, they showed middle school students “sponsored content” and news articles to see if they could recognize an ad. They showed high school students studying about gun laws a chart from a gun owners’ political action committee to see if they would accept it at face value. And they showed college students a tweet to see if they might use it as an eventual source in an article.

Perhaps even more intriguing – especially for education nerds – are the sample questions the report contains, along with a rubric for each and sample responses that show mastery (the student answers correctly and provides coherent reasoning for the response), emerging (the student answers correctly but provides limited or incoherent reasoning) and beginning (the student answers incorrectly).

The results the group reports are indeed bleak, but this shows the kind of media literacy journalism teachers might be able to help promote. Much of it deals with concepts we teach all the time: “Question Authority.” And of course there’s “verify” and “be transparent.” At least we hope our students would do better on this group’s assessment.

Also, the report ends with “Next Steps,” which include a promise to pilot lesson plans to use with these assessments and an awareness of the problem that is far worse than the researchers originally thought.

“Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there. Our work shows the opposite,” the researchers say. They hope to produce web videos to show how digital literacy is vital for a country like ours that relies on an informed electorate.

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