Stanford's COR

Curriculum Candidate: Stanford’s Civic Online Reasoning

The Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) produced Civic Online Reasoning (COR), a set of lessons, quizzes and resources to help students ask three questions before making judgements of fact. These questions are almost identical to the SIFT model, except that COR leaves off Step 0, "Stop", the decision to engage System 2.

  1. Who’s behind the claim?

  2. What’s the evidence for the claim?

  3. What do other sources say about this claim?

Even though COR is designed to cover only three “moves”, there are 29 lessons and 22 assessments as of this writing, and more are being added. There are also 18 videos which include a 10-video series associated with the curriculum called “Crash Course: Navigating Digital Information” with John Green, developed with Google’s MediaWise and the Poynter Institute.

Eighteen research papers support or evaluate this curriculum. Materials associated with rich Google Doc lesson plans include slides and graphic organizers. A 4-hour course for participating COR teachers costs $375, and covers:

  • Research behind the Civic Online Reasoning curriculum

  • Overview of Civic Online Reasoning curriculum design principles

  • Modeling strategies of professional fact checkers

  • Developing lessons that incorporate online sources about current events

  • Assessing students’ ability to evaluate digital content

Our Take

Stamford's model reflects real-world practice, and its lessons and resources are rich, widely tested and refined, and informed by independent evaluations.

Unlike the News Literacy Project's Checkology, COR is not indexed to media literacy standards and will be thus difficult to justify for a standards-driven educational program. However, it is worth recalling that those who develop educational standards for schools are not omniscient, and those who insist on such approaches may not be considering that digital media require a highly technology-dependent, field-dependent set of literacies tied to rapidly evolving landscape. Media literacy standards will likely go out of date before the completion of testing cycles that evaluate the impact of different approaches to standards attainment.

The depth of research behind COR, both informing its design and evaluating its implementation, seem worth abandoning scope and sequence concerns for, particularly if it is part of a the multi-modal approach Fake News Fitness favors.

Video Tour: Civic Online Reasoning