New study on News Literacy evaluates the Stony Brook course

June 29, 2017

Can students be taught how to find reliable information in the tsunami of social media postings that inundates them every hour of every day? A recent study provides encouraging evidence of the positive impact of Stony Brook University School of Journalism’s News Literacy curriculum. Writing in the Summer 2017 issue of Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Adam Maksl, Stephanie Craft, Seth Ashley, and Dean Miller analyzed survey data of Stony Brook students, comparing those who had taken the 3-credit course and those who had not.

The study, The Usefulness of a News Media Literacy Measure in Evaluating a News Literacy Curriculum,

found that

… those who had taken a news literacy course had significantly higher levels of news media literacy, greater knowledge of current events, and higher motivation to consume news, compared with students who had not taken the course. The effect of taking the course did not diminish over time. Results validate the News Media Literacy Scale and suggest the course is effective in helping equip students to understand and interpret news.

Speaking for his colleagues, Adam Maksl said, “We believe that two components of news media literacy are knowledge of how the news media system works and the feeling that we are in control of the role news media have in our lives. Indeed, students who had taken the News Literacy class displayed these qualities more than students who had not taken the class.”

Maksl, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Indiana University Southeast, stressed that this research is only a first step and that tests of students before and after they take the class would provide stronger evidence of the curriculum’s effectiveness.

"We've gotten a ton of  positive anecdotal feedback since we began teaching the course," said Dean Howard Schneider of Stony Brook's School of Journalism, ”But it's gratifying that the study showed systemic evidence that we are moving in the right direction, particularly that the course sticks over time."

More than 10,000 Stony Brook undergraduates have taken the course, as well as over 6000 students at universities in the US and 10 other countries. The Center for News Literacy makes all of its materials freely available on its Digital Resource Center.