An Experiential Learning Approach to Media and News Literacy
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Generation Z students, born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, have had technology since a young age and are comfortable with the Internet and social media, but are not necessarily media literate, and when it comes to service, they are focused on solving problems. With this in mind, a media literacy experiential learning project was incorporated as a component of an upper level undergraduate course. The goal of this project was to provide college students with the tools necessary to think critically about media content by leading workshops for students in two local high schools. The students enrolled in the course were exposed to the concepts of information and misinformation, social media in journalism, and information literacy before reviewing three core lessons: 1) Deconstructing the News and Evaluating Sources, 2) Balance, Fairness, and Bias, and 3) Truth and Verification. To gather data, the students enrolled in the upper level undergraduate course completed a news literacy skill assessment and a personal reflection. The results of the assessment indicated the students’ knowledge to be above the emerging or intermediate level when it comes to identifying credible sources. However, results also showed that the students’ knowledge is below emerging or intermediate level when it comes to identifying methods of different types of media and news, evaluating reliability of sources, and determining whether the information provided is fair and balanced. On the other hand, the student reflections indicated advocacy of media and news literacy lessons and recognition of personal knowledge deficits when it comes to media and news literacy. The results of this experiential learning project highlight the importance of combining new models of engaged learning with frameworks for media and news literacy.