Fact Checking and Information Literacy, Again

I’ve written before about how I think that articulating epistemic criteria that allow students to begin distinguishing fact vs. opinion is key to first-year information literacy. Because of that, I’ve become interested in the idea of information literacy an exercise in “checking the facts,” the way, say a New Yorker fact checker does.

I’ve been putting together some little exercises about this and, when doing some brief searching, came across a neat little exercise on the topic from the New York Times Learning Network. For example:

NYT Fact Check

I think this is interesting and that adapting something like this as an in-class exercise would be quite useful.

Any thoughts?



Filed under Education, Library Instruction, Posts by Kevin Michael Klipfel

4 responses to “Fact Checking and Information Literacy, Again

  1. Funny you would post this today – I saw this piece from Slate this morning (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/04/how_to_identify_fake_news_stories_bs_detector_and_prevention_protocol.html), and what caught my attention is how much overlap there is between quality control in a news organization and information literacy. Also, the graphic in that article is tremendous.

    • Kevin Michael Klipfel

      Alex – I’ve been hard at work on a lengthy indictment against our century – so am only getting to this now.

      I think that’s a really interesting article – thank you for sharing it here. I particularly like where they ask the question about the epistemic grounds for belief (2).

      If we could get students to think, for any given claim, how do you know that that’s true, that, I think, would go a long way with basic information literacy, and introduce a deeper understanding for why sources, ultimately, matter. It’s (a) what are the facts and the more philosophical question (b) how do you know (or at least justify that)those are the facts? that I really have in mind with the fact-checking metaphor.

  2. I’m actually teaching a fact-checking lesson to a communications class in an hour. What I usually do is give them an article from the NYT (or some other newspaper) and have the students go through and pick 2-3 “facts” or items that should be/could be checked and then try to verify them. Then we talk about different tools they can use to help verify info. It usually goes over pretty well, but I’d love to give this little quiz a try. Thanks!

    • Kevin Michael Klipfel

      Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for your comment!

      That sounds super cool. I think something like that would be a neat active learning exercise and I look forward to developing an exercise like the one you mention.

      I’ve been thinking of doing a whole post on this, but this raises the question for me (and it’s something that comes up a lot when I talk to librarians) is when to do information evaluation. I know many librarians who believe that you must always at least show searching in a session. I do not share that attitude, and I’ve had plenty of sessions where I worked out with the instructor that the research skills the students most need for their assignment is knowing how to evaluate information. Do you typically do this exercise in a class that’s primarily devoted to evaluating information? Do you mention that this is the exercise you’ll do when working out the details of the session before hand?

      I’m really interested in this, because, often, Dani and I have been asked how we think we can fit this kind of stuff into a one-shot, and I think the strategy we both take is just to radically limit the learning outcomes for a session: you do one of two things, but focus on them in a lot of detail.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s