Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fact Checking Students

A few days ago I had a conversation with a fellow educator who is also a mother and said her son told her that there are 3-4 students in his grade that always "fact check" what the teachers tell them in class. Apparently when a teacher says something as "truth" when teaching these students use their devices to see what they can find on the subject. In some cases they have found information that doesn't support what has been said in the classroom.

I was quite intrigued by this as well as a little put off. My first thoughts were:

  • I wonder why they feel the need to fact check what they are being taught?
  • It feels a little disrespectful of the teacher's authority to be fact checked.
  • What does this teach me about today's connected student?
  • How can this be leveraged in the classroom for good?
For a couple of years now I've toyed with the idea of putting an Amazon Echo or Google Home in classrooms just to help teachers get beyond the "googleable questions" in order to be able to focus more on the critical thinking level of DOK/Bloom's Taxonomy. If it were my class it would layout something like this..."If I ask you, as a class, something that can be Googled to get a certain answer, stop me and let's ask Alexa." I think it could lead to more engagement of conversations, as well as discerning when to use technology for information versus when to use your deeper cognitive skills for the task at hand. 

I would never force a teacher to do this and so I'm still toying with the idea of "are these students being disrespectful?" or should we applaud their desire to be researchers? Obviously there are a lot of moving parts in this discussion like a) would this be considered an off task behavior at the time by the teacher? b) what is the purpose of their research? To prove a teacher wrong or to feel more confident? 

More importantly I wonder how I would take it in the middle of a discussion if a student questioned my authority by saying "Actually Mrs. Davis, this website says that really..." Beyond a shadow of a doubt I would hope that could become a teachable moment regarding both digital citizenship and research. 

Should we embrace this behavior and have students feel comfortable in questioning? What are your thoughts on "fact checking" students? Should this make us rethink the way we are currently teaching if students have information at hand all the time anyway? Does this have the ability to make a teacher feel irrelevant or change their role?


  1. I would welcome a fact-checking student.

    My first response would be to thank them. I would follow up with questions about their sources.

  2. I would too. In fact I would feel we were doing something right if my students were fact checkers.