MODULE 2 - DECRYPTING INFORMATION
SESSION 3 : INFORMATION AND DISINFORMATIONPractical activities
ACTIVITY 1 – Thinking critically: Making an evidence scale
Whiteboard, printed cards or Post-Its.
By making their own ‘reliability scale’ based on scientific reasoning, students learn to rank types of evidence by their reliability. Students can thus analyse each news item and use reliability criteria to arrange the types of evidence from weakest to most irrefutable.
Objective: Show participants that not all proof and evidence are created equal.
Definition: What is a level of evidence?
In science, this refers to a study’s ability to answer a particular question. In media and information literacy, there are multiple levels of evidence:
1. Indications (low reliability):
- Report of an individual witness statement
- Individual witness statement heard first-hand
- Expert statement
2. Evidence (high reliability):
- A case study confirming a hypothesis
- Multiple case studies confirming a hypothesis
- Meta-analyses of studies
- Scientific consensus
However, even if reliability is high (scientific study, case study, etc.) it is important to still think critically and cautiously about the information you consult and use.
- Prepare the activity: Choose a scientific topic that may be subject to disinformation (example: climate change)
- Set up the room: On the whiteboard, draw an ‘evidence scale’ (see appendix)
- Hand out suggestions on paper to participants, who are then asked to place them on the board on the ‘evidence scale’.
- Scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- My uncle told me ‘climate change is not caused by human activity’
- A scientist declares on television that climate change is accelerating
- The President of the United States, Donald Trump, says ‘global warming isn’t real’
- Correction: Once participants have placed the suggestions on the board, the instructor corrects by rearranging them in the right order as indicated in the activity introduction.
- Reclassifying the evidence: Next to the corrected reliability scale, participants place the suggestions by level of evidence as indicated in the activity introduction.
- Discussions: The activity concludes with a debate on the scientific method and critical thinking skills as well as on the utility of this method when thinking critically about information (see SHEET 7 – Thinking critically about information).
DOING THIS ACTIVITY ONLINE
On a Google Drive: Present the reliability scale and use the suggestions below so participants can classify them. Then, use a prepared table to classify the suggestions by evidence type.