Challenges of media literary research

Concerns about misinformation and propaganda from media outlets, including social media, has led educators to seek out ways to improve their students’ media literacy. But what media literacy programs are most effective at combating “truth decay”? A new RAND report explores the landscape of media literacy education.

Through interviews with experts and examinations of media literacy programs, the report authors found that the definition of media literacy covers a lot of ground and that the research isn’t clear about whether standalone programs or programs incorporated across the curriculum are preferable. However, making comparisons across the field is a challenge because the research into media literacy encompasses such a diversity of perspective and emphasis. They recommend that researchers work together across disciplines to develop a shared set of competencies and measures, and they encourage parents, policy makers, and the public to expand their understanding of media literacy beyond the most obvious areas, such on online searches and fact checks.

RAND also developed an Excel database that provides information on 50 different media literacy programs. The database includes a summary of each program and information on cost, duration, and the intended audience. It’s available as an appendix to the full report.

Source: Huguet, A., Kavanagh, J., Baker, G., Blumenthal, M.S. (2019). Exploring media literacy education as a tool for mitigating truth decaySanta Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.

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