Only a quarter of students and recent grads can identify fake news

A recent study showed that colleges and universities may need to improve their instruction around critical thinking and reasoning as it relates to digital literacy.

MindEdge, an education technology firm, recently released a "Critical Thinking Study" that sought to find out whether millennials could accurately distinguish between fake news and factual information using critical thinking skills. Researchers surveyed roughly people in the United States between the ages 19 to 30 who were either in college or recent graduates.

The researchers found that only 24% of those surveyed could accurately detect fake news.

That so few of those surveyed could not identify fake news seemed more concerning to researchers because 55% of respondents said they consume news via social media and 51%  of respondents said they share news via social media. In addition, 37% of those surveyed said they had shared false information on social media at some point.

Only about a third of respondents—36%—said they felt properly trained to spot fake news, and around 13% said they weren't sure they received any formal training in critical thinking skills.

Stanford University found similar results in a study that surveyed 7,804 students from middle school through college. Over 60% of students surveyed said they did not recognize bias in a post written by a bank executive that claimed young adults need more help with financial planning.

Tackle the "soft" skills gap for your students

It's not just humanities students who need to study critical thinking, but also STEM students, writes Pat Donachie in Education Dive. For example, engineering students need critical thinking to deal with issues of cybersecurity.

That college freshman are more politically polarized than ever before makes them more susceptible to fake news, which often confirms an individual's point of view, Donachie argues (Donachie, Education Dive, 5/25; Boston Business Journal, 5/10).

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