Proposal Title

Confirmation Bias, Critical Thinking, and the Impact of Informed Perspectives

Track

Research Proposal / Learning Theories and Pedagogy

Proposal Abstract

Key to adult development is analyzing and synthesizing multiple perspectives to develop informed opinions. This research explores the impact of students’ beliefs about a controversial topic on their perception of text. Students completed an anticipation guide before reading a set of primary source documents with conservative or liberal interpretations of images and/or information. After small-group discussion over shared materials, students marked an opinion spectrum, ranging from the liberal to conservative. At the top, students marked their opinion; at the bottom, they marked the opinion represented by the information in the articles. Conclusions and implications for practice will be discussed.

Proposal Description

Key to adult development is analyzing and synthesizing multiple perspectives to develop informed opinions. This research explores the impact of students’ beliefs about a controversial topic on their perception of text.

In 2015, to practice using multiple perspectives in a critical thinking class, students read one of two sets of primary source documents addressing the Syrian refugee crisis with either conservative or liberal interpretations of the images and information. After small-group discussion, students marked an opinion spectrum, ranging from the liberal to conservative. At the top, students marked their opinion; at the bottom, they marked the opinion represented by the information in the articles. Surprisingly, the students interpreted their sources as having the same opinion as their own—all slightly-to-moderately conservative—despite the polarization of materials. This led me to wonder about the impact of students' existing beliefs around a controversial topic on their interaction with informational text.

To explore this, I repeated this activity as a pilot study with students (n=6) in a reading course, using articles about Campus Carry legislation and an anticipation guide that posed questions to determine student position before reading. Students were provided crime statistics for five state campuses and their surrounding communities, each campus’ weapons policy, Amendment language, and either a conservative or a liberal news article and opinion piece. Student prior opinion appeared to correlate with the perceived message in their materials; however, the small sample and limited range of initial opinions limit the ability to draw conclusions.

In spring 2017, the same activity will be repeated with three groups of students enrolled in a literacy education course (n=45), using similar materials surrounding the Campus Carry discussion. It is my hope that using the structured study with a larger population will allow for the development of both conclusions and implications for practice.

Session Format

Poster Session

Publication Type and Release Option

Event

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Mar 30th, 9:00 AM Mar 30th, 9:45 AM

Confirmation Bias, Critical Thinking, and the Impact of Informed Perspectives

Key to adult development is analyzing and synthesizing multiple perspectives to develop informed opinions. This research explores the impact of students’ beliefs about a controversial topic on their perception of text. Students completed an anticipation guide before reading a set of primary source documents with conservative or liberal interpretations of images and/or information. After small-group discussion over shared materials, students marked an opinion spectrum, ranging from the liberal to conservative. At the top, students marked their opinion; at the bottom, they marked the opinion represented by the information in the articles. Conclusions and implications for practice will be discussed.