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Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News


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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7. Fighting Fake News with Critical Reading of Digital-Media Texts



“I hear a lot of versions of, well, they [college students] don’t read any more, you know. Their attention spans are so short from reading tweets and Buzzfeed articles that they don’t know how to read longer texts” (Amicucci, 2019).

“I hear a lot of complaints about students not reading (or not reading well) because they are too lazy to read long texts due to their consumption and interaction with social media” (Gagich, 2019).

These were responses that I received to a Facebook post discussing typical complaints about college students’ reading skills. If you work in academia, which I assume you do, more probably than not you have heard your colleagues voice similar concerns. Chances are you too have had your share of frustration at college students’ reading skills (or lack of to be more accurate) in your classes. Most academics seem to agree (for once for a change) that current college students don’t seem to have adequately rigorous or critical reading skills. Academics also seem to agree (ok, on a second thing) that students’ consumption of digital and social media content is to blame for these sub-par reading skills. Yet, is this really true? Or is the problem that “Reading is not what it used to be …. Students don’t have poor reading skills; they have different reading skills” (Buford, 2019). My colleague Buford’s comment on the Facebook post captures my argument: reading at...

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