Moving Beyond Fake News: Teaching Students to Evaluate Online Information in More Authentic Contexts
Sarah McGrew

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Maryland, College Park

Primary Discipline

Curriculum and Instruction
As divisive misinformation proliferates online, our decisions about what to trust depend on our strategies for judging reliability and our understandings of how our identities and beliefs influence what we see and how we react. However, existing research-based efforts to teach online evaluation focus on the former while largely neglecting the latter. How might teachers help students reflect on how their identities and beliefs shape the content they encounter and how they evaluate it? What support do teachers need to engage in this work? I approach answering these questions through a curriculum development and professional development project. I will work with teachers to develop an approach to teaching students to evaluate online information that engages students in evaluating information on topics they care about, analyzing the contexts that produced that information, and reflecting on how their beliefs and emotions may influence evaluations. Drawing on data from lessons, professional development and planning meetings, and student pre- and posttests, I will investigate teachers? learning, their lesson planning and enactment, and students? learning. This study will help us understand how teachers might embed online evaluations in more authentic contexts and what students learn from such efforts. Further, it will clarify the professional development efforts that can help teachers integrate teaching online evaluations into their curricula. Students spend hours online every day, often bombarded by emotionally and politically charged content. Teachers can help prepare students for this immense challenge, and this study begins that work.
About Sarah McGrew
Sarah McGrew is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teaching & Learning, Policy & Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park. She studies educational responses to the spread of online mis- and disinformation, focusing on how young people search for and evaluate online information and how teachers can better support students to learn effective evaluation strategies. Her recent research has been published in outlets including Cognition and Instruction, Computers & Education, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Teaching and Teacher Education. She earned a B.A. in Political Science and Education from Swarthmore College and an M.A. from the Stanford Teacher Education Program. She taught high school history in Washington, D.C. for five years before returning to Stanford to complete her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teacher Education.

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