Developing Critical Thinking skills through the creative use of memes: an experience in a University course


Memes have become one of the most insidious tools for spreading online misinformation. Their power stems from their ability to create strong emotions using images accompanied by ironic or humorous jokes on a particular topic. Very often, they are based on stereotypes or cultural, social, or political biases that can hinder critical evaluation of content and credibility of the source. This article presents the results of an innovative laboratory model that uses memes as a teaching and educational tool. In particular, the research focused on exploring the potential of memes themselves as a tool for developing critical thinking and Information/Media Literacy skills among university students in a Second-level degree program in Educational Sciences. To support this educational process, a specific rubric for meme analysis was developed, which includes multiple dimensions that students effectively used during the laboratory. This activity helped them deconstruct and construct memes consciously and critically, highlighting persuasive strategies and various dimensions on which their effectiveness in visual/textual communication is based. At the end of the laboratory experience, a questionnaire was proposed to highlight their perceptions of the effectiveness of this approach: the responses were very positive, both specifically regarding the development of critical thinking and the use of memes in educational contexts in general.