Monday, August 23, 2010

Learning in a Crisis

Here's a study, abstract below, that looks really interesting.  Unfortunately I can't access the full text and it's a journal, Electronic News, that I've honestly never seen before (it may have lasted only one year, it's not clear on the web page).  Still, here's the abstract:
This study builds on previous examinations of social and mediated learning, expanding the scope to the context of crises. We argue that mediated learning might be particularly important during crisis both to ameliorate the negative emotional consequences of such events as well as to prompt the learning of information that might be important in future emergencies. Using data collected from Minneapolis, Minn., residents after the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, we demonstrate that individuals might have the capacity to learn from the media in the midst of a crisis and that women report learning more than men from crisis media coverage. Finally, we discuss implications for future crisis learning research and recommendations for the media. 
 A couple of things stick out in this abstract.
  •  Women "report learning more than men" from crisis coverage.  For a variety of reasons, men tend to score higher on tests of political knowledge than women.  The reasons are complex, but this "report learning" is, to me, troubling since it's unclear if it's actual learning or the perception of learning.  Those are very different.
  • The article suggests the awful emotions from such a tragedy may be moderated by news coverage.  This makes good sense, when coverage is reasoned and factual, which in this case I believe it largely was.  In political coverage, I'm not sure this finding would hold up, but it does raise some interesting questions about learning and emotion
I'd love to write more but I can't access the full article.

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