Misinformation in the Civics Classroom
By Diana Owen, Mary Margaret Herring, Erin Moroney, Weija Ren, and Zoe Chen Zhao
Civics, social studies, American government, and history teachers routinely confront misinformation in their classrooms. We employ a national survey to ascertain teachers’ views on misinformation as an issue for instruction. Teachers consider misinformation to be a major problem in society and the classroom. Many feel a strong sense of responsibility to educate students about misinformation and adopt instructional strategies to counter the problem. Most teachers make use of online resources and digital tools to educate students about misinformation, especially in one-to-one schools. Teachers are more willing to counter false facts from news stories than misinformation from social media and students. We found significant differences in teachers’ perspectives on misinformation based on their personal, professional, and school characteristics. Dealing with misinformation in the classroom has become contentious in some schools and districts when teachers are accused of indoctrination and face repercussions. Our findings point to the need for professional development aimed at preparing teachers to deal effectively with misinformation in the classroom.