Describing Your Bubble - A Social Media Analysis Project

Students read and reflect on confirmation bias and the "bubble effect" and then apply it to an analysis of their own social media feed.

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This multi-day unit introduces students to the concept of confirmation bias and its ability to alter our ability to objectively analyze evidence. It then applies this concept to a student-led analysis of her own social media feed using spreadsheets, formulas (=countif, etc), and graphing.

Day 1: Students will read (or listen as an alternative) to the "Confirmation Bias" chapter of You are Not So Smart (a sample reflection/note taking Reading Worksheet)

Day 2: Discussion over material. This is usually done in a either a Harkness Table format or a fishbowl. Students are asked to think about the chapter overnight and identify the social media feed (Insta, Twitter, etc.) that they would like to use of their Analysis project

Day 3: Students setup a spreadsheet to capture demographic information of the last 50/100 posts on their chosen social media feed. Class may determine which characteristics to assess (Common ones include age, sex, race, location, religion, political philosophy, education level, etc.). Teacher will teach/refresh students on using =Countif and other analytical tools built into spreadsheets to develop charts or graphs summarizing demographic characteristics (depending on time and curricular requirements, this can stretch over multiple days).

Day 4 Social Media Analysis Reflection and Class Discussion

Follow-up: This can take a number of different directions, including moving into psychological triggers (CGP Grey  "This will make you angry" is a good lead-in) or action steps for avoiding confirmation bias - This could include exploring political bias charts for news organizations, the development of one or more RSS feeds by students, or a checklist of questions to ask if your thoughts are being "bias bubble" influenced.

BUILD PHASE UPDATE:

Added a "Fake News, Faith, and Formation" Presentation from #NCEA18 that includes a number of the lessons and ideas referenced in this project. Students participating in this project have described it as both "startling" and "eye-opening" with many students expressing a heightened awareness of propoganda techniques as well as their own tendency to fall into silo-traps.

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