Learn How to Prepare Your Students to Think Critically

Critical Thinking: How to Win the War Against Fake News

Turn on your TV, check your phone, surf social media, and you will find yourself inundated with facts, fiction, satire, clickbait, advertisements, and almost any information you can imagine. Like it or not, this overload of data will not be easing up any time soon. In fact, it is only going to become easier to access.

With this onslaught of news and other media sources coming at us in regular intervals, how can you determine what to do with this information? What is real, and what is fake? How can you make the determination? Why is it so critical to know the difference?


The Importance of Distinguishing between Fact and Fiction

To answer the question about how to find the validity of information, it is essential first to explore the definitions of facts, fiction, and opinions. According to Merriam-Webster, a fact is “something that has actual existence,” and “fiction is something invented by the imagination.” An opinion is a “belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge.” The confusion comes in because, in a polarized world where people's minds are made up, and facts don't count unless they support preexisting viewpoints, we need to exert effort to pursue truth. To do this, we must exercise careful judgment in evaluating information, particularly material that comes to us over the Internet, especially news.


Benefits of the Course Critical Thinking: How to Win the War Against Fake News

In the course, Critical Thinking: How to Win the War Against Fake News offered by Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne, the content is designed to help you teach your students to approach all the information they receive with a critical attitude. It is important to stimulate them to ask, for example: What is the information source?  What do I know about the author of the article? How does this information checkout against other resources on the same topic?  Is the information portrayed reasonably?  Should I check a fact-checking site? 

This three-semester credit course first introduces the definition and importance of critical thinking as viewed by a philosopher. This philosopher’s material reflects basic logic, construction of arguments, and the ultimate aim to sway others' beliefs on the topic of critical thinking.  This information is then followed by a pragmatically oriented guide written by additional experts in critical thinking.  Their material provides resources for teachers to help their students navigate the flood of information they address daily. 

The resources provided in this course are available for all grade levels. The information is engaging, easy to understand, and at times, amusing.  This course intends to teach us, as educators, how to be careful judges of what we read so we may model this vital skill for our students to navigate their world better. 

Additional topics include:

  • Distinguish facts, opinions, beliefs, and knowledge.
  • Routinely seek to justify beliefs and work to analyze the arguments.
  • Recognize charitable vs. uncharitable interpretations of arguments, especially as used in rhetorical contexts.
  • Become familiar with primary forms of reasoning in deductive logic and with common fallacies.
  • Understand the strengths and problems of news delivered via cell phones (how most students receive their news).
  • Comprehend how news bubbles develop and magnify biases.
  • Know how to vet sources as trustworthy as opposed to biased, completely fake, clickbait, advertising, or satire.
  • Teach students to look for strategies used by fake news purveyors.
  • Use five core principles in teaching about analyzing news items (know your own biases, use technology to build empathy, give students the language to challenge ideas but not people, model positive behavior, give students time to reflect).
  • Become sharp at recognizing fake news items.
  • Have a large variety of internet tools to evaluate news sites, including general rules, fact-checking, and photo checking.
  • Review examples of lesson plans suitable for elementary through high school and beyond, and other resources.
  • Show students how to sharpen their news feeds.
  • Show how teaching critical thinking applied to internet sources matches Common Core Standards for Literacy.


Critical Thinking: How to Win the War Against Fake News Course Contents

Successful completion of Critical Thinking: How to Win the War Against Fake News will lead to long-lasting benefits for yourself and your students. It may also impact your professional career by allowing you to leverage your new skills towards salary advancement, license renewal, or recertification. Students are encouraged to seek approval from their district or state before enrolling.

Contents include: 

  • Evaluating information online
  • Facts, opinions, and knowledge
  • Justification
  • Reasoning
  • Better and worse reasoning
  • Reasoning about better and worse
  • Asking for reasons
  • Fake news: the great human tradition
  • Fake news in an exponential world
  • Our brains on fake news
  • Fake news self-assessment
  • Resources for combatting fake news
  • Practical experience
  • Using reasons to evaluate websites
  • Stressing logical construction of fake news sites

Through the carefully curated material of Critical Thinking: How to Win the War Against Fake News offered by Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne, you will develop the tools necessary to think and analyze critically using a curriculum explicitly designed for K-12 educators and administrators. All content is self-paced, written in a user-friendly format, and accessible online 24/7 or via PDF format delivered directly to your email inbox.

Note, the University of La Verne is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Since requirements may vary, students should check with their school district or state department of education before enrolling in a course.


How to Register

Critical Thinking: How to Win the War Against Fake News is completed online or via an emailed PDF format. All books and materials are mailed to the student regardless of the format selected. Featuring online chat support and quick grading turnaround times, the course is open for registration at any time during a semester. Upon completion, students receive graduate, non-degree semester credit on official transcripts from the University of La Verne, an accredited university in La Verne, California. 

Registration is simple and can be done online or over the phone. Courses are offered on a rolling basis during three standard semesters, and you can begin whenever you are ready! Courses are offered ongoing during three semesters. Students may enroll in up to a maximum of 15-semester credits at any time during each semester. 

The registration dates are:

Fall: September 1 – January 31

Spring: February 1 – May 31

Summer: June 1 – August 31

Our course, Critical Thinking: How to Win the War Against Fake News, offers such a wide range of content to help you understand and digest information from a variety of sources that we are sure you are eager to get started! Now is the time to learn how to teach your students to think critically in the age of information!  


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