June 7, 2013
Evaluating sources is not a dichotomy
The problem with that is most sources are not all good or all bad. There are some sources out there that do set out to deceive people (though sometimes I don't think those content creators even think they are being "evil," they just believe their viewpoint is right and important and want others to do the same; it all comes down to perspective). But anyhow, I think it's dangerous for students to be put in the mindset that a piece of information is all good or all bad. They might use a checklist and go through the site / resource to determine if it meets particular criteria, but not having them think critically about a range of goodness/badness and a gray area sets them up to actually think less critically overall. Once they check off enough boxes to determine a source as all good or all bad, they don't have to think about the information much anymore: it's just use it or don't use it at this point.
I changed my wording on this activity to encourage a better understanding of a spectrum of quality and credibility. My hope for when they get to this assignment, after doing some readings, tutorials, and critical thinking, is that they will realize research is a fluid and organic process, and they shouldn't stop thinking just because a lens for evaluation takes some of the burden off of them initially.