This article was written by Andersonian staff member Hannah Ader.
Dr. Michael Frank is a professor of political science who teaches American Government and research methods courses. His teaching methods allow students to grasp a larger concept and prepare themselves for what the world has to offer. Dr. Frank has created projects over the years that embody real life application and understanding. This semester he switched up his idea, adding more depth and allowing students to deal with more hands-on processes.
“In my American Government class, for a number of years, I have had the students follow the national news on Twitter,” said Frank. “Students have to curate content and find stories within the government that are relevant and retweet them.” The department has a hashtag that they use when they are finding and researching information, #AUPOSC, so that there is a lot of relevant content in one place.
This semester, Frank wanted students to be able to interact with the stories a little more. Rather than retweeting relevant stories, Frank has prompted his students to quote the tweet and make comments. “This allows the student the opportunity to add some value to the link that they are providing,” Frank said.
A couple times over the course of the semester, the students are told to look over their stories that they have retweeted and pick one to write an analysis over. “This is an important piece because I want them to develop. I think everybody needs to develop the trait of looking at a story in a critical way,” Frank explained.
As the election has recently caused many to think about life in new ways, Frank claimed that it was also the source of what gave him the idea to change the way he facilitated the project. “My concern was really driven by the whole fake news thing and the tremendous amount of information that is available on social media,” Frank noted. “Through the election, I started thinking about news literacy and a different way to engage in it.”
When writing their analysis, Dr. Frank points the students to good fact-checking associations like factcheck.org. “The person who founded this website is a key figure in political organizations, and I want them to be aware of good and true journalism,” Frank said of his students. Like most professors, Frank sees the importance for students to notice the difference between good news sources and those that are fake.
Although students have only been participating in this project for a couple of weeks, Dr. Frank is optimistic in how they will grow and show interest in this assignment. “I think that what students will find is that the assignment is fairly objective,” Frank said. “A piece isn’t biased simply because you disagree with it. I hope that looking at one of those stories critically allows them to see how a story should be covered.”