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Ashley's mini course: Searching For and Evaluating Web Resources

Access our class: 623 Fall 2013

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Searching For and Evaluating Web Resources


This course focuses on two elements within information literacy, searching for information and evaluating found information. Educators and students often have the ability to search the Internet for information, but doing so effectively can be challenging. Finding the right type of information requires planning, sifting, and evaluation.

Why do we need a strategy for finding information?

Enormous amounts of information are available to both educators and students on the Internet. Finding information is typically very easy for us to do, however, the types of information we find may not be accurate or may not even meet our needs. Finding quality information that is useful for research or that can answer our questions is a skill that everyone can learn. Because anyone has the ability to produce and distribute information, it is important to evaluate information thoughtfully and carefully.The intent of this course is to provide educators with strategies for finding and evaluating Internet resources.

These guiding questions helped to shape this course:

  • What strategies help users to begin their search for information and determine informational needs?
  • What do educators need to know and need to teach their students about searching the Internet?
  • What advanced search techniques are accessible using Google?
  • How can educators assess student evaluation of web resources?

Intent of the Course

The intentions of this course are to assist educators in finding information efficiently and to assist educators in thinking critically about the information they find on the Internet. Through this experience and strategies for planning, searching, and evaluation, educators can connect their experience to their classrooms, finding ways to teach searching and evaluation strategies to students and peers.

Topics to be Addressed

  • Determining Your Information Needs
  • Finding Information Using Advanced Search Techniques
  • Evaluating Information

Learning Outcomes

Learners will be able to:

  • Develop guiding questions in order to direct a search for resources. (Cognitive Strategy and Intellectual Skill)
  • Identify components of the research cycle. (Verbal Information)
  • Apply advanced searching techniques to find information. (Motor Skill, Intellectual Skill, and Cognitive Strategy)
  • Identify and describe elements of the source including currency, relevancy, accuracy, authority, and purpose. (Verbal Information and Intellectual Skill)
  • Evaluate whether or not a found resource is suitable for the informational need. (Cognitive Strategy)
  • Choose to use advance searching techniques to find information when searching. (Attitude)
  • Articulate reasons evaluation is needed when viewing resources online. (Verbal Information)

Needs Assessment

1. Instructional Problem

Although many opportunities for retrieving quality information exist in the online world, students' have difficulty evaluating web-based resources, despite their familiarity with technology (Mandalios, 2013). In order for educators to improve critical thinking skills regarding the evaluation of Internet resources, we must first understand information literacy ourselves (Carr, 1998). In order to assist students in finding valuable sources, we must be familiar with advanced search techniques and criteria used to assess the value of found resources and references. Beyond assisting our students integrate critical thinking strategies into their research, participants can also asses resources for their own use and informational needs.

Many educators and students alike have prior knowledge regarding basic searches for information. In addition to learning mechanical skills of operating computers, we develop searching strategies when we have our first informational need. Search engines have assisted us for years in finding many types of resources. As the sophistication and complications of this process have evolved, so have the need for information literacy. The need presents itself in a variety of ways which includes, but it not limited finding resources for an assignment. The goal in this course is to refine and potentially reform some of these strategies in order to provide a more objective approach for evaluating whether or not a resources is adequate and suitable for our individual situations.

Because searching for information is a very personal process, challenges exist in assisting learners with assessing information. Individuals may determine on an individual basis whether or not a source meets the requirements. Some aspects of information can be objective, however, and because of this it is important to focus on the process of thinking about the resource in addition the correctly identifying the evaluation components of each resource.

2. What is to be Learned

Educators will learned how to guide student research by experiencing the research process first-hand. Participants will learn components of resource evaluation using a popular model and advance search techniques within the commonly-used and free search engine, Google.

3. The Learners

Learners will include current and pre-service educators teaching in K-12 environments. Learners will have some familiarity with using technology and the Internet. Additionally, learners will have some experience in knowing that information on the Internet can change over time and through additions and revisions made by other Internet users. Instruction and activities will be geared toward the classroom teacher although information could also be shared with elementary and secondary students, when developmentally appropriate.

Learner Analysis Learners within this course include educators and administrators teaching children in grades K-12. Participants will have varying degrees of familiarity with searching and evaluation concepts in addition to varying technological abilities.

4. Context for Instruction

Participants will learn content within this mini-course online, in the location of his or her choosing. Delivery of the content will require the use of a computer and a stable Internet connection.

5. Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution

Participants will explore sections of the course that will introduce them to common problems in research as well as possible solutions proposed by evaluative criteria. Participants will engage in activities that allow them to form their own solutions through advanced searching, providing them with options tailored to their individual research needs.

6. Goals of this Mini-Course

One goal of this course is to create an awareness within the mind of the educator regarding the validity of Internet resources and the level of evaluation needed to ensure that a source has quality. A second goal of this course is to provide search strategies that will improve the quality of found sources. Finally, a third goal of this course is to help educators provide a framework for students (the CRAAP model) that will help them to think critically about their sources and determine whether or not a resource meets their research needs.

Performance Objectives

  • Using an Internet website found by the participant and written instruction to identify key components in resource evaluation, learners will identifies the major evaluation components; currency, relevance, accuracy, authority, and purpose each criteria by composing an essay in a journal.
  • Provided with a self-selected search topic and instructions for advanced searching, learners will demonstrate advanced searching skills by finding one resource using advanced search features in Google.
  • Given several examples of guiding questions, the learner will create three to five guiding questions by writing them down in a research notebook, using their guiding questions to create one research question.
  • When given the components of the research cycle, the learner will match each phase of the research cycle by selecting the appropriate definition.
  • When given examples and definitions of currency, relevancy, accuracy, authority, and purpose, the learner will define each component and compare his or her definitions to the defined concepts.
  • Given an advanced search Google form, the learner will generate three or more limiting criteria by typing the criteria in the respective fields.
  • Given a sample the learner finds on the Internet and using the learner’s guiding questions, the learner will use the CRAAP evaluation technique to decide if or to what extent the item meets the informational need.
  • When the learner has a choice to limit search results, the learner chooses to used advanced search techniques.
  • Given the question, ‘Why do you think evaluation is needed when viewing resource online?’ the learner will state three reasons in writing, explaining his or her rationale.

Task Analysis

Unit One

Where do I start when I want to find the answer my question on the Internet?

  1. The learner will identify a research topic for which they would like to learn more information. (Prerequisite)
  2. The learner will understand the concept and process of evaluation.(Prerequisite)
  3. The learner will connect definitions and terms for each stage of the research process.
  4. The learner will develop guiding question for personal research.
  5. The learner will understand components of and the process for create effective questions. (Prerequisite)

Unit Two

How do I find quality information on the Internet?

  1. The learner will employ metacognitive strategies to determine whether or not the research question has been answered or further searching is needed. (Prerequisite)
  2. The learner will employ metacognitive strategies to determine which criteria meet the needs of his or her research question(s). (Prerequisite)
  3. The learner will understand options available for advanced searching using Google.
  4. The learner will apply necessary terms and variables within the advanced search.
  5. The learner will find resources using advanced search criteria.
  6. The learner will reflect upon the thought process in the search.
  7. The learner will compare the quality of results when using basic searching and advanced searching practices.

Unit Three

How do I evaluate Internet resources? How do I know they are quality resources?

  1. The learner will identify elements of the evaluation including currency, relevancy, accuracy, authority, and purpose.
  2. The learner will apply knowledge of elements of evaluation to given examples.
  3. The learner will evaluate results based upon opinion, to what degree a resource demonstrates value. (Prerequisite)
  4. The learner will identify evaluation components, applying it to a resource they have found.
  5. The learner will use a found resource to create a scavenger hunt for classroom use.
  6. The learner will reflect upon challenges in the searching process.

Curriculum Mapping

File:Searching For and Evaluating Web Resources.pdf

References & Resources

Carr, J., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education, W. C. (1998). Information Literacy and Teacher Education. ERIC Digest.

Hatakka, M., & Lagsten, J. (2012). The capability approach as a tool for development evaluation – analyzing students’ use of internet resources. Information Technology For Development, 18(1), 23-41. doi:10.1080/02681102.2011.617722

Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sources. Journal Of Information Science, 39(4), 470-478. doi:10.1177/0165551513478889

n.d. Problem-solving [image] Source: problem-solving.jpg

Smith, A. G. (2012). Internet search tactics. Online Information Review, 36(1), 7-20. doi:10.1108/14684521211219481


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623 Fall 2013