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13-year-olds taught to spot fake news

Young people in Norway are not critical enough of what they read. Through collaboration between researchers and teachers, Year 8 pupils in Agder will experience how texts can create different views of reality and how critical thinking skills can be used to expose fake news.

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Illustrasjonsfoto av lærer og elever
CRITICAL LITERACY: A research project will observe lower secondary school pupils for three years and teach them how different texts can lead us to different views of reality. (Photo: Colourbox.com)

This is clear after the Research Council approved NOK 10 million for the three-year research project CritLit, which is about critical literacy in a digital and global textual world.

“It is an exciting project where the aim is to map and develop methods and learning tools to improve pupils’ critical reading skills”, says Professor Anne Løvland at UiA’s Department of Nordic and Media Studies. Professor Gunhild Kvåle and Assistant Professor Ingrid Elisabeth Ertzeid from the same department also participate.

Anne Løvland, foto

Anne Løvland

The research project is a collaboration between the University of South-Eas tern Norway, which is the project manager, the University of Agder and the Australian Catholic University, which provides an international perspective to the work.

Three Year 8 classes in Agder

The researchers will observe the Norwegian teaching at the lower secondary level at three schools in Agder and three in Viken to look at how to best incorporate critical literacy practices.

“It is about understanding that a text is the sum of textual choices that are made during the writing process. Such choices are made based on what the writer wants to achieve and whose interests the text serves. The texts we produce are different because we experience the world in different ways. This is not least a matter of power. The problem of ‘fake news’ is part of this complex”, says Anne Løvland.

Close collaboration with Norwegian teachers

Collaboration with the teachers is key to the project. The researchers will look at the teaching of critical reading and text production that takes place in schools today and see how they can develop and try out new pedagogical practices and learning tools.

In the final stage, they will assess the learning outcomes of the pupils participating in the project and evaluate the impact of the pedagogical practices they develop on the critical literacy in schools. The project will involve master’s students from the Teacher Education Unit at UiA.

“The collaboration is perhaps one of the most exciting things to come out of this. The teachers have a lot of experience we can draw on. And we are excited to see how the pupils respond to the pedagogical methods we will try out”, says Løvland. 

All 13 to 16-year-olds in the country

The research in the CritLit project fits well with the new national curriculum for Norwegian, introduced this autumn, where ‘critical approaches to texts’ is one of six core elements. All 13 to 16-year-olds in the country will therefore benefit from the project findings.

“We hope the results from the CritLit project will provide a stronger evidence base for developing critical literacy practices in lower secondary schools and in the teacher education. It will also strengthen the collaboration between schools and teacher educators and provide opportunities for mutual development”, says Anne Løvland.