Simple Facts Make a Difference

Over the past few weeks I’ve spent time with a literature review on the issue of violent video games and aggression. I started the literature review in order to find a number of focused articles for a small thesis paper. The goal of the assignment is to help first year students use facts to prove a thesis through scholarly articles. There are a series of posts coming about my literature review, but also on my experience using it as a research topic for two English composition classes.

The students entered the topic with a variety of personal opinions and biases. But part of the challenge of doing the literature review was to recognize and move beyond the personal opinions of the researchers. Published statements like, “the hit Grand Theft Auto for the Sony GameBoy Color,” raise eyebrows and suspicions from students. (Fact #1: Sony produces the Playstation 2(PS2), Playstation Portable(PSP); Fact #2: Nintendo produced the GameBoy Color). Students know these facts through experience and pop culture education. And to give them an article with what they consider an obvious fact incorrect in the first sentence, does not bode well for their acceptance and belief of the remaining research. This inaccuracy not only discredits the research findings in the students’ view, but also leads them to the conclusion that for the writer video games are not even a serious enough topic to make checking a few widely held facts a priority. “They just want to find something to blame,” were the words of one student.

This discovery not only helped me to be more aware of my own fact checking (and those peer reviewing research), but it served as an example for my students as well. If they would discredit a researcher based of incorrect facts – what would (should) their professor do to their work if they use and site facts incorrectly.