fake fact

Students struggle to distinguish real vs. fake information

A recent study by University of Surrey staff based in Guildford and DUFE, China reveals that students struggle to distinguish between real and fake information in a quasi-field experiment. The study was carried out in both Guildford and DUFE campuses.

More than 800 students in both DUFE and Guildford campus participated to evaluate different scenarios, such as job advertisement, classroom interaction with teacher, international news, and CSR claims by organizations, blog posts, and website advertisements. Students rated both scenarios (real and fake) on site/ source, author, message (Metzger & Flanagin2015) and also rated on information credibility (Appelman and Sundar, 2016).

The result did not discriminate between campuses (DUFE and Guildford). The analysis of variance (ANOVA) on scenarios reveal that students are not able to distinguish between real and fake information in all six scenarios. Age, gender, average mark, programmes of study, and levels of study did not discriminate on information vs. disinformation and information credibility.  Though the first-year language students at SII-DUFE performed slightly better in comparison to the rest of the study cohort.

This research calls for educators to teach information evaluation skills alongside discipline-specific knowledge to become better able and employable in industry.

Teaching Innovation Team

Dr Jashim Khan (Surrey International Institute-DUFE)

Humberto Gumeta (Surrey International Institute-DUFE)

Dr Ioanna Anninou (Surrey Business School)

Research Assistants

An Wei

Ding Xichuan

Tang Yuqing

Wang Hao

Wang Xinru

Wang Yuqi

Zhang Yingyu

Zhang Yueqi


Metzger, M. J., & Flanagin, A. J. (2015). Psychological approaches to credibility assessment online. The handbook of the psychology of communication technology, 32, 445.

Appelman, A., & Sundar, S. S. (2016). Measuring message credibility: Construction and validation of an exclusive scale. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 93(1), 59-79.