Assessing Online Viewing Practices Among College Students
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This article focuses on media literacy education for college students. First, we conducted psychometric analyses to verify the properties of the Critical Evaluation and Analysis of Media (CEAM) scale. CEAM measures college students' self-reported practices for critically evaluating and analyzing the credibility, audience, and technical design elements of online media, such as news, advertisement, and entertainment media. Using CEAM, our second goal was to identify trends in critical viewing practices among first-year students enrolled in college. Results of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and item response theory (IRT) supported a three-factor structure for the CEAM scale. Composite score reliability for all items comprising the total scale displayed strong evidence for the internal consistency of the scale with a Coefficient Alpha (α) of .91. Score reliability estimates for each subscale follow: (a) Questioning Credibility (α = .80), (b) Recognizing Audience (α = .78), and (c) Recognizing Design (α = .81). Findings from the study indicate that while first-year college students generally perceive they have adequate practices in recognizing audience in media messages and questioning the credibility of news, there is room for improvement in questioning the credibility of advertisements, suggesting that college instructors should focus more on advertising literacy.