Extending digital literacy to survive misinformation support empowered citizenship - Geoff Walton & Alison Pickard
Proactive and passive scepticism;
extending digital literacy to survive
misinformation, myth and
conspiracy theory and support
Dr Geoff Walton, Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University, UK
Dr Ali Pickard, Principal Lecturer, Northumbria University, UK
Dr Mark Hepworth, Reader, Loughborough University, UK
Ms Lara Dodd, Research Assistant, Northumbria University, UK
Our agenda for today
• Creating a collaborative working environment
• What is information discernment? (10mins)
• What is scepticism? (10mins)
• What is the difference between passive and pro-
active scepticism? (10mins)
• Using and critiquing the source evaluation tool
• Any questions? (5mins)
Creating a collaborative working
• In groups of 5 agree on how you are going to
work as a group
– What is important?
• All other activities will be in your groups
What is information discernment?
• I’m guessing you all have an idea if what
information discernment might be.
• Discuss this idea, draw on your own
experience and agree on a group definition
Definition of information discernment
“The ability to use higher order thinking skills to
make sound and complex judgements regarding
a range of text-based materials”
(Walton & Hepworth, 2013, p55)
What is scepticism?
• Discuss this term, can you define it?
What is the difference between
passive and pro-active scepticism?
• Discuss these ideas Without referring back to
• Define what these terms might mean
Our working definitions of pro-active
and passive scepticism
• Passive scepticism (default position) is defined as
a person’s ability to make limited judgements
about information which are heavily influenced
by their preconceived notions or worldview
(Lewandowsky, et al., 2012) or the worldview of
• Proactive scepticism (special effort) is defined as
a person’s ability to make balanced judgements
at all times about information independently and
regardless of worldview.
Using and critiquing the source
• Using the source evaluation handout discuss
whether this tool contains what one might expect
in order to be able evaluate information
• What would you add?
• VOTING TIME - Does the source evaluation tool
encourage proactive scepticism YES/NO/DON’T
Walton, G. & Hepworth, M. (2013). Using
assignment data to analyse a blended
information literacy intervention: a quantitative
approach. Journal of Librarianship and
Information Science, 45 (1) pp53-63