Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Research-Based Info Lit Lessons Bring All the Boys to the Yard

Well, to be honest, it's boys AND girls. Further, it's not really "the yard." But I hope you get my meaning anyway: the way I teach information literacy lessons, specifically web evaluation, works.

There's a lot more that goes into teaching web evaluation than what I've presented in this post, but no worries if you're new to my blog. I've already written about how I teach multiple times in the past, if you want the full story. Today, I want to get to the specifics of web evaluation because I've never heard anyone else talk about using my method, and I do think everyone should teach it this way.

So, after that build up, I'll bet your wondering how I teach it, huh? It's actually pretty simple: I get the students to tell me, through conversation, that they already evaluate websites and that they rely on the Five Ws:
  • Who wrote the webpage/website? (Gets at authority and trustworthiness.)
  • What kind of information does it have? (Is the content pertinent?)
  • When was it written/last updated? (Gets at timeliness.)
  • Where did the content originate? (Gives me the opportunity to talk about country codes, how most .coms are US based, and cultural biases that can influence content.)
  • Why was the page/site created? (Everything has a bias, so you have to figure out what it is.)

Like I already said, it's simple. But simple works. How am I so sure? Here's where the "research based" part comes into play. You see, almost everyone knows the Five Ws. In fact, most of us learn them in elementary school. That means, for college students, this is existing knowledge, and therefore it's something on which we can build. Adding to existing knowledge is the easiest way for people to learn. Or, if you want me to get all fancy, the Five Ws is a schema that our students already have in place, and since schemas are a kind of memory framework, they are easy to build upon.

I think a lot of the other methods I've seen, like the CRAP method, are funny and clever, but I'll stick with the Five Ws because the science tells me this method is more effective. Besides, as we all know:

(Well, we all know the "Science, It Works..." part. I'll admit I have no idea what the rest of it means.)

A special thanks to John Pappas for helping me come up with the title of this post.

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