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We explored the impact of participating in a Virtual Internship (VI) computer-supported collaborative learning simulation, on high school students’ (n = 43) development of knowledge and skills for critiquing the political media with which they engage. Second, we evaluated the effect of this intervention on students’ self-efficacy for using specific media strategies to take political action. Finally, we explored the epistemic (knowledge-seeking) and non-epistemic aims that students set for themselves while participating within our VI, which was designed specifically to address students’ epistemic cognition. Analyses of both the quantitative and qualitative data revealed that students: (1) evinced gains in knowledge about what “fracking” is and also knowledge about why it is a controversial topic; (2) evinced gains in self-efficacy for civic engagement—a key indicator to students’ likelihood for acting; and (3) were able to understand the politicized nature of a social media post, and therefore reported wanting to pursue knowledge-seeking goals to understand both sides of the argument and the trustworthiness of the information sources. We discuss these results vis-à-vis the literature on epistemic games, which can help students develop the knowledge, skills, and values of a profession.


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Educational Technology Research and Development