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Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News

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Edited By Ellen C. Carillo and Alice S. Horning

This collection offers support for instructors who are concerned about students’ critical literacy abilities. Attending to critical reading to help students navigate fake news, as well as other forms of disinformation and misinformation, is the job of instructors across all disciplines, but is especially important for college English instructors because students’ reading problems play out in many and varied ways in students’ writing. The volume includes chapters that analyze the current information landscape by examining assorted approaches to the wide-ranging types of materials available on and offline and offers strategies for teaching critical reading and writing in first-year composition and beyond. The chapters herein bring fresh perspectives on a range of issues, including ways to teach critical digital reading, ecological models that help students understand fake news, and the ethical questions that inform teaching in such a climate. With each chapter offering practical, research-based advice this collection underscores not just the importance of attending to reading, particularly in the era of fake news, but precisely how to do so.

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1. Introduction

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ALICE S. HORNING AND ELLEN C. CARILLO

The central goal of this collection is twofold: it will help faculty understand where students are with respect to reading and understanding the information they encounter on a daily basis (whether that information comes in the form of nonfiction prose they are reading in their courses or the news stories that pop up on their social media accounts), and it will help faculty improve students’ critical reading, writing, and thinking abilities. In the current environment where it is difficult to evaluate claims of “fake news,” “alternative facts,” misinformation and disinformation, expert skills are needed more than ever. In this Introduction, we offer an overview of recent research that shows the current situation in college classrooms across the country, followed by an explanation of the basic psycholinguistic features of the reading process. We know from our own research and that of others that many teachers of college-level writing (and other subjects) have little or no background in the psycholinguistics of reading, so our goal here is to provide a solid backdrop for the chapters. Part of the context we provide in this Introduction also involves bringing to light research we have done separately that documents the absence of attention to reading in the field of composition and rhetoric. Finally, we demonstrate that there are sound reading pedagogies emerging from the field that, when taken alongside those discussed throughout this collection, will give faculty the tools they need to support students’...

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