Calling out ‘alternative facts’: curriculum to develop students’ capacity to engage critically with contradictory sources
School of Arts and Humanities
Information discernment has become a much needed twenty-first century skill and an essential outcome for university education. Technology has enabled more organisations to gain access to effective mass media to disseminate both accurate information and disinformation. As information sources have proliferated, information users are confronted by a plethora of superficially credible, contradictory ‘facts’ and opinions. A curriculum redesign project at an Australian university provided an opportunity to embed information discernment into a first-year unit, and to strengthen students’ capacity to engage critically with contradictory sources and competing worldviews. The review found that: (1) it was necessary to explain the importance of information discernment, (2) a restriction of information sources was helpful to the initial development of discernment, (3) the purposes of (university) education required explicit discussion, (4) it was useful to discuss the relationship between research and personal experience, and (5) later modules must consolidate and extend information literacy learning. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.