Statewide report finds RI students lacking access to media literacy – URI News
KINGSTON, RI – October 25, 2021 – In an age awash with disinformation, toxic social media, and deep political and cultural divisions, students must learn to critically analyze media messages. But not enough Rhode Island students have media education opportunities at school or at home.
Most elementary and high school students in Rhode Island do not receive media literacy, according to survey results and interviews with more than 500 educators, parents and community leaders. This new report provides an overview of research findings from a statewide study of the level of media literacy integration in Rotary schools. The study includes the opinions of school educators, administrators, parents, elected officials and community members, as well as interviews with 30 respondents who provided more detailed information.
The study was conducted by Media Literacy Now Rhode Island and Renee Hobbs, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Rhode Island, in conjunction with URI’s Institute of Social Sciences for Research, Education and politics.
After analyzing the results, letter notes were issued to school districts in Rhode Island documenting their efforts to provide media literacy to all students. Here are some of the main findings of the report:
• The people of Rhode Island understand the importance of media literacy as they see the obvious consequences of fake news, political polarization and misinformation disseminated through social media.
• Survey participants believe that the main reason for valuing media literacy is its ability to improve people’s ability to analyze information and recognize high quality sources.
• Some of the basic teaching practices of media education are used with elementary, middle and high school students in Rhode Island. For example, 1 in 3 students learn to understand and analyze news media at school.
• Most RI students do not have media literacy learning experiences that help them understand advertising or the economics of the media industries.
• There are significant disparities between school districts, with some communities providing media literacy to most or all elementary, middle and high school students, while other communities provide fewer opportunities for students.
• Beyond co-viewing, parents and guardians do not use a wide range of activities to develop media literacy skills with their children at home.
Striking differences were found between the communities, noted Hobbs, co-author of the report. For example, most students in West Warwick are exposed to media literacy teaching practices in elementary, middle and high school, and the district also has few challenges regarding access to technology, student preparation or school climate. In communities like Coventry or Exeter-West Greenwich, the implementation of media literacy pedagogical practices reaches only a small proportion of learners, and educators, principals, parents and community members report a significant number of obstacles and challenges that limit innovation.
The report was a response to a law passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 2017 that instructed the Rhode Island Department of Education to consider including media education in the basic education plan. of State. Pam Steager, head of Media Literacy Now Rhode Island and co-author of the report, said: “The Media Literacy Report Card provides educators, school leaders and community members with a baseline. and a blueprint on which they can build transformative media literacy programs. for all learners of Rhode Island schools.
School librarians know the value of media literacy teaching practices, and media literacy opportunities are already incorporated into national school library standards. According to Mary Moen, assistant professor of library and information studies at URI, school librarians are trained to identify cross-cutting opportunities where media education can take place in collaboration with the English language arts, social studies, science, as well as social science. emotional learning and civic education. “The high percentage of librarians who responded to this survey indicates that they care and are involved in media education,” she said. “This evidence contradicts the outdated perspective that school librarians are just keepers of books.”
Thanks to a grant from the URI’s Institute of Social Sciences for Research, Education and Policy, student researchers took an active role in the research process, working alongside faculty and community leaders. in media education. During the process, they learned more about what media education looks like in formal education.
“While working on this project, I had the opportunity to design survey questions and learn about basic media literacy pedagogical practices,” said Rongwei Tang, a graduate student.
She also had the opportunity to interview field educators and learn more about their teaching practices, the challenges they face and how media literacy is implemented in schools. .
“This is perhaps the best preparation to become a leader in media literacy,” said Steager, a longtime leader in the field.
For more information, contact Pam Steager, of Media Literacy Now Rhode Island, at (401) 439-1292 or [email protected].