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Scheibenzuber, Christian; Hofer, Sarah Isabelle and Nistor, Nicolae ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9956-1670 (August 2021): Designing for fake news literacy training: A problem-based undergraduate online-course. In: Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 121, 106796

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In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, most universities had to switch to “emergency online learning”. At the same time, academics were in search of means to combat “the infodemic”, a wave of misinformation rolling over the world, affecting social and political life, and undermining efforts to deal with the pandemic. In the framework of emergency online learning, we propose an educational sciences undergraduate online course addressing fake news illiteracy by giving students an insight into the form and effects of fake news with a focus on framing. The course was built upon current fake news research and the problem-based learning approach. The research questions addressed students’ perceptions of critical design elements, their fake news credibility test performance, and their academic achievement. A total of N = 102 undergraduate students participated in the course. Among various design elements, students indicated that online communication and feedback was most appealing. On the other hand, for future course iterations, they suggested improvements to the task descriptions. Fake news credibility decreased significantly (F(1, 36) = 62.64, p < 0.000, partial η2 = 0.64) and final course papers were on average good to very good, indicating strong academic achievement. The study suggests that problem-based online courses can be appropriate learning environments, even in the context of “emergency online learning” and, furthermore, that they can serve as an instrument for combating fake news illiteracy.

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