Information literacy in the study of american politics: Using new media to teach information literacy in the political science classroom.

Students have access to a vast amount of information about American politics through new media outlets (e.g., the Internet). We survey the perils and promise of this new landscape through a case study of a political science class at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York (CUNY), that examined congressional races in the 2010 election season. We find that students have access to a diversity of information and opinion about House of Representative races that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. However, the students’ information literacy skills and the ability of students to sort and weigh the value of various perspectives to inform their own conclusions was limited. Unlike much of the celebratory tone of studies that proclaim the emancipatory value of new media for citizens and students alike, we argue that educators interested in the potential of new media must devote considerable attention to both the variety and reliability of new media outlets, as well as provide the historical and political context for information that students gather, with the goal of developing a deeper form of information literacy for students. New media offers much potential, but great challenges to educators as well.