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Paper: Lateral Reading Strategies to Improve Science Media Literacy
Volume: 533, ASP 2021: Sharing Best Practices – AstronomyTeaching and Public Engagement
Page: 121
Authors: Rector, T.; Banchero, P.
Abstract: A common educational goal for introductory astronomy classes is to improve a student's ability to comprehend science stories in the news. In particular we'd like for students to be better equipped to recognize misinformation and pseudoscience. Given its popularity, astronomy is a common target for “click bait” headlines related to topics such as extraterrestrials, astrology, and killer asteroids. But now the stakes are higher, as we need students to be able to use media literacy skills to undestand the threat of climate change as well as be able to see through the disinformation campaigns designed specifically to confuse and delay action on this existential threat. We will present curriculum we developed that is based upon media literacy best practices as applied to astronomy news. The curriculum consists of an initial set of activities where students learn how use lateral reading and other analysis tools to determine the veracity of a news story. They also learn how to identify “sponsored content” and other strategies used to portray propaganda as unbiased viewpoints. After these initial activities, done at the start of the semester, students practice their skills throughout the semester by analyzing news stories related to content knowledge in the course. The ultimate goal is for students to be better prepared to recognize misinformation and disinformation in the modern media landscape.
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