Saturday, November 23, 2013

EDU 720 Week 12 - Evaluating Online Material For Accuracy

Dear Journal,

I just finished teaching my unit on scatter plots and trend lines.  Believe it or not, I actually incorporated online reading into my unit!  Boy were my students surprised when we started to discussed comprehension, validity of resources and using citations.  “This is math class!”  My students shouted.  “Why do we need to do literacy?”  Of course after calmly explaining to them the need to conduct online research in all content areas, they began to warm up to the lesson.  Thank goodness my students are so understanding at times!

While reading the assignment this week, I was struck by the quote at the very end of Chapter 38a that read, “Truth is designed by counts of mouse clicks rather than by textbooks or encyclopedia authors.” (Harrrison, 1290)  One of the main focuses during my online reading unit for my class was making sure my students were able to determine the validity and accuracy of the information they were finding online.  As I reading through the case studies, I noticed that other teachers such as Julie and Leigh had similar concerns for their students.  

In the case study, I really liked the way the Julie taught her students to be “intelligent consumers” when using the Internet.  Similar to this thought, I discussed with my students how it is important to analyze the information that they receive and make a determination as to whether or not the information is reliable.  Some of my students were not quite sure how to check the validity of information online.  Therefore, prior to conducting research I spent one class period discussing with my students the importance of finding reputable resources online.  The following checklist was used by my students to help determine if the source they were using was creditable.  Evaluating Online Resources Checklist (C.A.R.S.)   The checklist was created by Robert Harris and can be duplicated for non-profit and educational use.

After the unit was complete many of my students commented on how they actually slowed down when they were conducting the research.  They said the checklist made them look at the websites closer than they have ever looked before to determine if what they were finding was accurate.  In addition, they mentioned how much more information they received when they were paying more attention to the overall content of the websites and not just scrolling to find their answers and moving on after they got what they were looking for from a site.

In my opinion, the checklists helped with the overall online comprehension of my students.  Not only did they learn skills that would help them find valid information, they also took the time to really analyze the information on the sites.  A few other teachers in my school will be having the students conduct online research and they plan on using a similar if not the same checklist because of the positive results I saw in my class.

The second focus of our unit was to have my students find multiple sources to validate their findings.  It was mentioned in Chapter 38 that the teacher named Leigh also required students to find multiple sources to backup their findings. (Karchmer, 1265)  This technique not only allowed my students to validate their findings, but it also provided more detailed responses to questions.  I found that as they visited more websites, they were able to gather more information about the topic and include that in their answers.  This was an excellent way for my students to have more examples, details, and descriptions that made their responses richer with a deeper sense of meaning.  
In Chapter 38a the author stated, “A valuing of multiple perspectives leads us to a closer approximation to what is to be regarded as “true.”  (Harrison, 1292)  After the unit was complete, my students discussed similar ideas to this quote.  They mentioned how they would find a piece of information on one site and then read it again on two or three more sites.  Once they used the checklist to make sure the site was reliable, they would tally how many times they found a certain piece of information.  A few students even stated that they would not include certain answers in their responses if they could not find more than four sites that had the same information.  Since my students have a tendency to rush through many of their assignments in the past, I felt as if they truly learned the meaning of patience with their education when completing this unit.  Hopefully they will carry these skills with them throughout their future education.


  1. Thank you for sharing the checklist!

  2. Elizabeth, I applaud your efforts in having students confirm information by accessing multiple sources. This is an important step in using both print and online sources. I loved the CARS checklist. I use the 5Ws, but the questions is has students think about and answer are very similar. Thank you for making this list available.