Promoting undergraduates’ awareness of the importance of thinking critically about false or inaccurate scientific information presented in news articles

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Pablo Antonio Archila
http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0225-4701
Jorge Molina
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3018-6726
Anne-Marie Truscott de Mejía
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8380-8173

Resumen

Being aware of the importance of thinking critically about wrong scientific information presented in news articles is an important form of scientific media literacy. However, little is known about how undergraduates evaluate wrong scientific information presented in news articles. This article discusses the effect of a teaching–learning sequence (TLS) in promoting students’ awareness of the importance of thinking critically about false or inaccurate scientific information presented in news articles. It examines the written and oral arguments produced by 141 university students (73 females and 68 males, 16–22 years old) in Colombia during a complete TLS supervised by the same instructor. The data used in this analysis was collected from students’ written responses, and audio and video recordings. The first aim of this investigation was to provide evidence of how undergraduates evaluate wrong scientific information presented in news articles when purposely no definition of misleading information is given. The second was to assess the effectiveness of the TLS in promoting students’ awareness of the importance of thinking critically about wrong scientific information presented in news articles. The findings show that not all participants perceived misleading information in the same way, and students usually over-estimate the truth or certainty that can be attributed to scientific information communicated in news articles.


Keywords: Critical thinking, false scientific information, inaccurate scientific information, news articles, scientific media literacy, university science education.


Promoción de la conciencia de los estudiantes de pregrado sobre la importancia de pensar críticamente acerca de la información científica falsa o inexacta presentada en artículos de prensa


Resumen: Un aspecto de la alfabetización mediática en ciencias tiene que ver con ser consciente de la importancia de pensar críticamente acerca de la información científica errónea presentada en artículos de prensa. Empero, poco se conoce sobre cómo los estudiantes de pregrado evalúan este tipo de información. En este artículo se discute el efecto de una secuencia de enseñanza-aprendizaje (TLS, por sus siglas en inglés) a la hora de concientizar a los estudiantes sobre la importancia de pensar críticamente acerca de información científica falsa o inexacta presentada en artículos de prensa. El artículo examina los argumentos escritos y orales de 141 estudiantes universitarios (73 mujeres y 68 hombres, entre 16 y 22 años de edad) en Colombia, durante una TLS supervisada por el mismo profesor. Los datos empleados para este análisis fueron tomados de las respuestas escritas de los estudiantes y registros de audio y video. El primer objetivo de esta investigación fue proveer evidencia de cómo estudiantes de pregrado evalúan información científica errónea presentada en artículos de prensa cuando no se les brinda deliberadamente una definición de información engañosa. El segundo objetivo fue evaluar la efectividad de la TLS al momento de concientizar a los estudiantes sobre la importancia de pensar críticamente acerca de información científica errónea presentada en artículos de prensa. Los resultados muestran que no todos los participantes percibieron la información engañosa del mismo modo. También se encontró que los estudiantes usualmente sobrestiman la verdad o la certeza que se puede atribuir a la información científica comunicada en artículos de prensa.


Palabras clave: Pensamiento crítico, información científica falsa, información científica inexacta, artículos de prensa, alfabetización mediática en ciencias, educación científica universitaria.

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Archila, P. A., Molina, J., & Truscott de Mejía, A.-M. (2019). Promoting undergraduates’ awareness of the importance of thinking critically about false or inaccurate scientific information presented in news articles. Revista Eureka Sobre Enseñanza Y Divulgación De Las Ciencias, 16(3), 3106. https://doi.org/10.25267/Rev_Eureka_ensen_divulg_cienc.2019.v16.i3.3106
 
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