Searching for Sources Mini-Course


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Overview and Purpose

Through my experience in education, I have witnessed students of various ages and backgrounds commit to a shallow interpretation of reading anything on a digital device. Texting, social media, and other technology applications have led kids to analyze and communicate as quickly as possible. So when it comes to researching a given topic, students grab the information that comes up first, is easy to read, and generally has pictures to look at without considering if the content is factual. There are credible sources that students should utilize and there are websites they should avoid due to bias and incorrect information, but students often lack the expertise to tell which is which.

The purpose of this mini-course will be to educate teachers on conducting instruction focused on your students searching for the right sources on the world wide web and synthesize this newfound information in a concise way.

Course Expectations

This course is for educators who feel their students’ lack of evaluation tampers with the quality of their work when researching a topic on a digital device. Perhaps it is because they were not correctly taught how to navigate the internet, but the buck stops here, you have the intention to promote good digital literacy skills that are necessary for the 21st century. This course is two-fold, I am teaching you but I am also providing you with information and skills so you can appropriately teach your students this information.

Most students prefer using Google when researching any kind of web material (Taylor & Dalal, 2014) so we will focus on that specific search engine with some alternatives. There is no specific student demographic that I am targeting, but some of my materials may be better for a secondary setting while elementary teachers may have to edit my resources to meet their audience. You or your students do not need any fancy laptop or application when conducting searching for the right sources, just a digital device that has access to the internet. You will need a google account to access the assignments and activities. I know there is quite a range when it comes to technical expertise, so I am aiming to accommodate educators who may not have knowledge but have to drive to try some new methods that may help you in your classroom and even your day-to-day life.

Performance Objectives

  • Participants will be able to examine sources on the internet and categorize them into reliable and unreliable sources.
  • Participants will be able to plan how they will demonstrate these online skills to students in their classroom.
  • Participants will be able to prepare specific questions that will challenge their students in order to dig deeper and find the right online sources.
  • Participants will guide their students to integrate the information found into a well-thought-out answer.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the hyperlinked title of a unit to go to its page (not the picture).

Unit 1: Sort Your Sources

Sort your sources.png

- Given how vast the internet is, you will analyze what makes a source reliable or unreliable and how to distinguish between the two.

  • Look for quality evidence in a source
  • Be aware of red flags in a source
  • Analyze a reliable and unreliable source on the same topic

Unit 2: Students and Sources

Students and sources.png

- Apply your new knowledge into instruction that will meet the needs of your students in order to give them direction when it is their time to search.

  • Translate what you learned to a topic/assignment they can understand
  • Become familiar with the CARP Graphic Organizer
  • Determine how fishy your source is by filling out CARP

Unit 3: Synthesize your Sources

Synthesize your sources.png

- After finding the right source, you will interpret the source to identify what is important and how you can modify it for your class.

  • Try and find more sources that deal with your research question
  • Understand the importance of summarizing multiple sources
  • Attempt to create a claim that is backed up by main ideas and supported by evidence found in your sources



Taylor, A., & Dalal, H. A. (2014). Information Literacy Standards and the World Wide Web: Results from a Student Survey on Evaluation of Internet Information Sources. Information Research: An International Electronic Journal, 19(4).