Civic Media Literacy as 21st Century Source Work: Future Social Studies Teachers Examine Web Sources about Climate Change

Document Type


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Credibility, Reliability, Online reading, Climate change, Civic literacy, Civic education, Social studies, Media literacy, Classroom discussion, Deliberation

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Civic media literacy entails understanding complex topics and events that are increasingly mediated by digital sources of information and where it can be challenging to evaluate the reliability merits of these sources. The goal of this study was to discern the ways undergraduate preservice social studies teachers with different climate change beliefs read and evaluated the reliability of four diverse Web sources about the complex socioscientific topic of climate change. Findings highlight clear alignment between most participants with climate change beliefs at either end of a beliefs continuum with less alignment for participants with climate change beliefs toward the middle of a continuum. Findings also point to the benefits of whole group deliberation to help participants more critically evaluate a Web source that opposed the scientific consensus about climate change. In an age of “alternative facts,” this study points to the importance of students and educators having opportunities to evaluate, discuss, and determine the credibility of a range of online sources.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

The Journal of Social Studies Research, v. 42, issue 4, p. 345-359