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LIS1000: Module 3

Lesson 1

Module 3, Lesson 1

Module 3, Lesson 1

The information literate student evaluates sources and information critically to determine whether content satisfies information need.(Standard 3)

  • Applies standard criteria for evaluating the authority of the sources(Performance Indicator 1)
    • Identifies the qualifications of the author, issuing agency, or publisher of the information. (Authority) (FL College Outcome 3.1A)

Lesson Objectives
On completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Locate the name(s) of the individual or organizational author(s)
  • Determine the credentials of the author(s)
  • Identify the purpose of the publication or information
  • Distinguish between scholarly and popular sources

Lesson Content

Credibility of Information Sources

When writing a research paper or presenting information, it is very important to establish the credibility of the source and the authority of the author/producer.

All forms of information (e.g. websites, newspaper articles, magazine articles, and scholarly journal articles) can be evaluated for credibility. At times, it may be difficult to establish authorship or even the sponsor of the information, particularly with website information.

These are 6 basic criteria for evaluating information:

  • Credentials or expertise, (e.g. educational degree or position in pertinent career field) of the author if an author is given
  • Credibility of the sponsor of the information whether a website, a newspaper, television program, or book has a reputation for providing trustworthy/unbiased information
  • Recognition of bias or a slant to a specific point of view
  • If a topic is time sensitive, currency must be examined
  • Depth of information a single sentence in an article or on a website does not offer enough substance as several pages of descriptive material.
  • Pertinence of the information, is it relevant, appropriate, and suitable to your topic?

Scholarly information as in scholarly journal articles often offers more reliable information than popular writing. Frequently, scholarly articles are published by experts in a field and present data from research. Popular writing may quote from studies that were conducted and then reported on in scholarly articles. However, the popular rendition as in a newspaper article sometimes omits the details needed to understand the data. See Cornell University Library on Distinguishing Scholarly Articles from popular media.

Scholarly articles usually have References or Works Cited lists at the end of the paper.

Website introduction to scientific method from U of Rochester


Assignment: Option 1

A. Explore these two websites containing information on Christopher Columbus, or choose alternative topic sites or print materials.

B.  Review the content of the two sites.  Go to the home page and look for authorship of the sites, this may be under the “contact us” or “authors” page.
Discussion Questions:

  • Who is responsible for the content?
  • Is contact information provided?
  • Is an organization identified as site sponsor?
  • If so, is the organization known or is contact information provided?
  • Is the author or organization likely to be an expert on the topic?
  • Does the URL provide clues to the source’s identity?
  • Does the site provide references or a bibliography?
  • Can you identify the purpose of the information?

Assignment: Option 2

  • Students submit evaluations about The Truth About Fluoride website and
  • Students in groups find a periodical article, blog entry, or website that does now meet the criteria of credible information during class or as homework. The student groups present their article/website in class or post to a Discussion group with their findings

Assignment: Option 3

Follow this link to "The Promise of National Service: A (Very) Brief History of An Idea" from this website and then look at the evaluation of the source.

  • Is there a named author and what is/are the author/authors credentials?
    • There are named authors whose credentials are given
    • "E.J. Dionne, Jr., University Professor in the Foundations of
      Democracy and Culture, Georgetown University. Kayla Meltzer
      Drogosz, Visiting Faculty Fellow, Center for Democracy and
      the Third Sector, Georgetown University. Parts of this essay were drawn from United We Serve: National Service and the Future of Citizenship edited by E.J. Dionne Jr., Kayla Meltzer Drogosz and Robert Litan." and Encyclopaedia Britannica link 
      Georgetown University is an Ivy League university.
  • Does the article demonstrate bias or fallacious arguments? Gives both sides of the issue.
  • Is the information up-to-date? 2005 (would need a more current article as well as this background article)
  • Is the information in-depth? yes several pages with different points raised.
  • Is the article pertinent? Yes.

External Resources

Lesson 2

Module 3, Lesson 2

Module 3, Lesson 2

The information literate student evaluates sources and information critically to determine whether content satisfies information need. (Standard 3)

  • Applies standard criteria for evaluating the authority of the sources (Performance Indicator 1)
    • Recognizes prejudice, deception, or manipulation. (Bias)  (FL College Outcome 3.1B)

Lesson Objectives
On completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Identify and investigate the person or persons responsible for content
  • Examine the content for fact or opinion
  • Understands concepts of objectivity, bias, prejudice, deception, and manipulation in the context of media
  • Recognize inflammatory language
  • Recognize fallacious arguments

Lesson Content

When reading or viewing all information, it is wise to assess the material for bias, prejudice, deception or manipulation. The ideal source shows objectivity (see synonyms below). Frequently, sources of information offer a specific viewpoint about an issue. Accessing additional information on other sides of an issue allows a critical reader the opportunity to make a judgment on the arguments and facts of the issue.

However, not all information that has a bias should be totally discounted. Some organizations offer valid data in support of their view. Also, to reach a judgment, the other point of view should be sought to get a balanced picture and be able to come to a well-reasoned conclusion.

On the other hand, openly prejudiced language (use of racial, ethnic epithets, stereotyping in language) marks information as non-credible. Deception or manipulation in a source also brings into question the validity of the content.

Objectivity: synonyms fairness and balance1

Definition of Bias:
“…a preference or an inclination especially one that inhibits impartial judgment; an unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice.”2

These are some basic steps to follow to evaluate information for bias, prejudice, deception, or manipulation

  • Determine if the information is fact or opinion. Facts frequently use data from reputable sources to back them up. Opinions are judgmental statements. Opinions usually represent a “bias” or inclination to a certain view on an issue (Taylor 129).
  • Is the language inflammatory, are certain groups targeted and stereotyped?
  • Is some information left out? Sometimes advertisers do not give negative effects or dangers of a product. (History of advertising has produced laws concerning “truth in advertising” to deal with some of these issues.3

Definition of Prejudice:
1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.4

The following website contains examples of bias/prejudice in writing from Queen’s College, New York: 

Definition of Deception:

1. the act of deceiving; the state of being deceived.
2. something that deceives or is intended to deceive; fraud; artifice.5

Example of Deceptive Writing (Advertising to Children)

Definition of Manipulation

1. the act of manipulating.
2. the state or fact of being manipulated.
3. skillful or artful management.

One form of manipulation in sources is propaganda. This website from Cuesta College ( discusses some of the methods used. Many of these methods of manipulating readers/listeners involve informal fallacies in logic.

Some examples of these misleading arguments are:

  • Bandwagon or Appeal to Popularity—Everyone is buying our product
  • Ad Hominem—“Against the man”—personal attack on a person who has a different view
  • Appeal to Authority—a famous person endorses a product so it should be good


1Anderson, Robin and Jonathan Gray, eds. Battleground: The Media. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood. 2007. Print.

2“Bias.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.  4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.

3Taylor, Terry. 100% Information Literacy Success. New York, N.Y.: Thomson/Delmar, 2007. Print.

4Prejudice.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Web.

5Deception.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th ed. Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Web.


Assignment: Option 1

An editorial is given in which a specific bias is demonstrated (

  • The students in groups decide what specific bias or biases are found/Online students participate in a Discussion group concerning the editorial
  • Students find two examples of language that is colorful, from above article. “…enrollment in the Clark County School District has exploded since 1998.” And “…state's public university system is similarly indifferent to the issue.
  • Students are asked to find the source of the statistics quoted in the article.

Assignment: Option 2

Analyze these two articles about gun control:

Questions to Consider:

  • Do you see evidence of inflammatory language? Give an example.
  • Is there prejudice towards a specific group of people?
  • Are statistics given without a source given that is accessible?
  • Would the website be acceptable if you were writing a research paper?
  • Are any informal fallacies used in the article?

Assignment: Option 3

Explore these two websites containing information on Martin Luther King, Jr., or choose alternative topic sites or print materials.

Review the content of the two sites. Examine the source of the information. 

Discussion Questions

  • Does the site promote fact or opinion?
  • Who is responsible for the content?
  • Can you easily identify the site’s purpose?
  • What is the author’s purpose for providing the content?
  • Is the design or content of the site provocative?
  • Does the site provide one point of view?
  • Does the site link to other sites? 
  • If so, are those sites credible?
  • When was the page last updated?

External Resources

Lesson 3

Module 3, Lesson 3

Module 3, Lesson 3

The information literate student evaluates sources and information critically to determine whether content satisfies information need.(Standard 3)

  • Applies standard criteria for evaluating the relevancy of the information.(Performance Indicator 2)
    • Examines content for misrepresentation of facts, spelling errors and presence of works cited. (Accuracy )(FL College Outcome 3.2A)

Lesson Objectives
On completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Identify source of the content
  • Evaluate the validity of information
  • Examine a source for reliability

Lesson Content

How will you be able to determine if the information you are reading is accurate?

Some tips on verifying information:

  • Look for the source of data in the caption of tables, charts, and other graphical presentations of information.
  • Evaluate the information to see if the data comes from a reputable source
    • Government Departments like the Census Bureau
    • Polls like Roper, Gallup, or Pew
  • Rate the source higher if it is a research journal (Although data may be disproved later in other studies)
  • Examine the information about the author or publisher
    • Scholarly books are usually published by university or college presses
    • Feature magazine and newspaper article writers must verify their sources according to their ethical code. (However, this is not always done).
  • Note whether the same data or findings are found in 3 reputable documents not originating from the same source; the data will gain higher credibility (triangulation)
  • Watch out for hasty generalizations like "Everyone knows..."  and other manipulative techniques.

Pew Website poll on public's view of media
Scientific Method  (Duplication of experimentation to verify results of research that is published)


Assignment: Option 1

A.  Explore this website on the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide (water), or choose an alternative topic site or print materials.

B.  Review the content on the site.  Consider the source of the information.

Discussion Questions

  • Who is responsible for the content?
  • Does the site provide misleading information?
  • Can you verify the basic facts provided?
  • Does the site provide a reference list or bibliography?
  • Is the language understandable?
  • Is the site a parody or satire?

Assignment: Option 2

Groups of students in class or online find a news article presenting scientific data. The students see if they can find the original study through a database or Google Scholar search.

Students find websites that give statistics that have no reference to where they were found and post the websites to a discussion group with a comment.

External Resources

Lesson 4

Module 3, Lesson 4

Module 3, Lesson 4

The information literate student evaluates sources and information critically to determine whether content satisfies information need (Standard 3)

  • Applies standard criteria for evaluating the relevancy of the information. (Performance Indicator 3.2)
    • Examines the information in terms of its depth of coverage and time frame. (Coverage & Currency) (FL College Outcome 3.2B)

Lesson Objectives
On completion of the lesson, students should be able to:

  • Recognize the date of information provided
  • Determine the relevance of date to the information provided
  • Ascertain if the site provides enough original information
  • Recognizes when coverage of material is inadequate or too dated

Lesson Content

Need for Currency in Information
Some topics require more current resources than others. In order to adequately research scientific topics, medical topics, current events, and current issues, up-to-date information should be located. However, that may not always be true of arts and humanities disciplines. Older works may be acceptable for those fields.

Although book information gives in-depth background information, if the most current update is not covered on a scientific topic, the information presented will be judged inaccurate. In the legal field, laws that are not current can be considered dangerous and misleading; the same can be true for medical topics.

Although currency of information is important in the medical and scientific fields, researchers still must be familiar with older works. A case occurred in which a medication that had shown dangerous side effects ten years earlier was given another trial with fatal results, because the researchers had not read the older literature.

So, for comprehensive field research, both older and current information must be read.

However, a topic in literature, history, philosophy, and other humanities subjects, may be better covered by a work that is a “classic in the field.” An example would be Plato’s Republic or the book Clausewitz’s On War. These are older, timeless works.

Finding Up-to-Date Information
Most books and all periodical articles are assigned a date, making it easier to evaluate for currency. When utilizing the Internet, many of the search engines allow narrowing by date, although this date may be when the information was published on the Internet. Also, some books are republished editions of older works. It is important to take time to discover the true date of a source.

Depth of Information
Books are good sources to find in-depth background information about a topic, although for topics where currency is important, periodical articles or online resources might also be used.

If one were researching the disease malaria, a book from the past 5 years giving the history, symptoms, and countries where the disease is found would be helpful. However, a visit to the World Health Organization website could give an update on the number of cases in the world today. Articles from a current medical journal could give up-to-date medications for the disease.

Most subscription databases allow the user to sort articles by the most updated, or set a date range.


Learning Activity

Groups of students in class or online do a search for a medical topic using a newspaper database where they limit the dates searched.  A search is done for a book on the topic, and the difference in coverage in the two types of sources are compared and discussed.

Assignment: Option 1

Evaluate these three websites below and answer these questions about the information:

  • Are research studies on red light cameras’ effects given to sway your opinion?
  • Can you trace a study to who implemented it with a further explanation of the research?
  • Would you use the information to support a thesis for a research paper?



Assignment: Option 2

Explore these two websites containing information on Kiwa hirsute (Yeti crab), or use two alternative topic sites or print materials.

Discussion Questions

  • Who is responsible for the content?
  • Which site provides the most information?
  • Do the sites provide links to more information?
  • Do the links work?
  • Can you tell when the page was last updated?
  • Can you identify the clues about the source based on the URL?
  • Which site is likely to present original information?

Lesson 5

Module 3, Lesson 5

Module 3, Lesson 5

The information literate student evaluates sources and information critically to determine whether content satisfies information need. (Standard 3)

  • Determines whether content satisfies information need (Performance Indicator 3.3)
  • Decides if there is enough pertinent information to support topic or thesis of paper and revise as necessary (FL College Outcome 3.3A)

Lesson Objectives
On completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Recognize whether a source actually is relevant to a thesis
  • Recognize if a source gives enough information to support a thesis
  • Recognize when a thesis does not have adequate support in the literature
  • Revise a thesis so that it is strong and verifiable

Lesson Content

Evaluating Resources For Depth and Pertinence of Information
To support a thesis statement, writers of research papers need enough information backing the points made in the paper.

Also, a broad sweeping claim is often not easily supported. A topic where the writer finds specific data, examples, or case reports to exemplify the thesis works better.

  • Example #1: How is this thesis statement overly broad?  College students who take mathematics classes are better logical thinkers. All college students are required to take mathematics; are then all college students better at logical thinking? What studies have been done? Perhaps instead: Students who major in mathematics score better at logical thinking.  Questions help shape the thesis statement. Finding studies, data and statistics can strengthen a position. Preliminary research will be done to prove or disprove the thesis.
  • Example #2 of another very broad thesis statement: Interest groups influence major policy decisions and law making in the United States. This statement although it is true is very vague and includes two large areas of influence for interest groups: policy and laws. A more specific thesis statement would be: Interest groups who represent the insurance companies through their meetings with lawmakers and use of advertisements stopped the addition of a national health plan to the Health Care Reform Act.

When doing research, often a working bibliography (an initial list of sources located on a topic that has not been evaluated closely) is compiled first on the general topic around which the thesis is centered. Of those sources, more specific information is gathered and scrutinized for arguments or points to support the thesis statement. The final bibliography is carefully evaluated for credibility, authorship, bias, currency (if needed), and depth and pertinence of the information.

Do The Statistics Uphold A Claim In The Thesis Statement?
Another thesis statement: The State of Florida needs to build more schools.  However, statistics do not support more school-age children in the state either through the birth rate or relocation as reported here from the National Center for Education Statistics:

Taken from that report:
"A decrease of 1 percent is expected for the Southern region between 1999 and 2010. Fourteen of the 16 states are projected to show decreases. Decreases are projected for Alabama (0.7 percent), Arkansas (4 percent), Delaware (2 percent), District of Columbia (5 percent), Florida (5 percent), Kentucky (5 percent), Louisiana (4 percent), Maryland (2 percent), Mississippi (2 percent), North Carolina (6 percent), Oklahoma (5 percent), South Carolina (5 percent), Virginia (0.9 percent), and West Virginia (7 percent). Increases are expected in Georgia (4 percent), Tennessee (1 percent), and Texas (5 percent)."

Is This Information Relevant?
In addition, when doing research, some sources do not provide enough depth or substance, and sometimes are not relevant to the topic. Each source should be evaluated individually.

Read the information given below on the thesis statement and answer the questions posed about the viability of the thesis statement.

Thesis: Students who are required to wear school uniforms do better academically than students who do not wear uniforms.

  • Is the information supportive of the thesis?
  • Is there enough information to use in a research paper?
  • Do you think that the thesis is worth pursuing?
  • Is there a way to revise the thesis statement?

Preliminary Research Results on the Proposed Thesis
Consider if these books have enough information to be useful and support the thesis.  

Catalog information:

Uniforms in public schools : a decade of research and debate
  • Author: David L Brunsma
  • Subjects: Students -- United States -- Uniforms; Dress codes -- United States
  • Notes: Evaluating public school uniforms : a decade of research / David L. Brunsma -- The influence of a mandatory school uniform policy in a rural and an urban school district / Sharon S. Pate -- Studying public elementary school uniform policies with small samples : promises and perils from rural Pennsylvania / David L. Brunsma -- Effects of mandated school uniforms on student attendance, discipline referrals, and classroom environment / Eloise Hughes -- School uniforms in middle schools : enhancing identity and security / Linda Lee Fosseen -- Student uniforms and school climate : the urban middle school teachers' perspective / Winston H. Tucker III -- School dress codes and uniforms : perspectives on wearing uniforms in Korea and the United States / Yunhee Kim and Marilyn DeLong -- The implementation and impact of mandatory school uniforms in Long Beach, California / Viktoria Stamison -- Looking back, looking ahead : on the future of educational research and training / Bart A. Reynolds.
  • Publisher: Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Education
  • Creation Date: 2006
  • Description: xxii, 216 p. : ill. ; 24 cm..
  • Language: English

School uniform policies in public schools[PDF] from
Find it at SPC DL Brunsma - PRINCIPAL-ARLINGTON-, 2006 -

Another book:

 Dress codes in schools
  • Author: Jill Hamilton
  • Subjects: Students -- United States -- Uniforms ; Dress codes -- United States
  • Notes: Debate over dress codes and uniforms / Marian Wilde -- Students can fight dress codes / Marisa Kakoulas -- Enforcement of dress codes wastes time / Kathleen Modenbach -- School uniforms are good for parents and students / Cheryl Larkin -- School uniforms eliminate fashion competition / Taylor Armerding -- Dress codes allow parents and teachers to avoid real issues / Chris Bailey -- Uniforms create a better learning environment / Matt Wennersten -- Teachers should have a dress code / Charles Waggoner -- Research does not prove dress codes are effective / Debra Viadero -- Uniforms are a way of controlling children / Jordan Riak -- School uniforms should accommodate Muslim culture / Fareena Alam -- Appendix. What you should know about dress codes in schools ; What you should do about dress codes in schools.
  • Related Titles: Series: Issues that concern you.
  • Publisher: Detroit : Greenhaven Press
  • Creation Date: c2008
  • Description: 94 p. : col. ill. ; 24 cm..
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

 Articles on the topic:
Article from ERIC Digest:
ERIC Digest 148 - May 2001
Uniforms and Dress-Code Policies
This digest does not give specific studies or mention Academic achievement specifically; It is very brief.
School Uniforms, Academic Achievement, and Uses of Research.

Bodine, Ann1
Journal of Educational Research; Nov/Dec2003, Vol. 97 Issue 2, p67-71, 5p, 2 Charts
Document Type:
Subject Terms:
*ACADEMIC achievement
*COMMUNICATION & technology
Author-Supplied Keywords:
academic achievement
academic research
school uniforms
NAICS/Industry Codes:
923110 Administration of Education Programs
611699 All Other Miscellaneous Schools and Instruction
611710 Educational Support Services
ABSTRACT School uniforms are being advocated for a range of social, educational, economic, and familial reasons. In 1998, The Journal of Educational Research (The JER) published an article by D. Brunsma and K. Rockquemore that claims that uniforms correlate negatively with academic achievement, but data presented in this article actually show positive correlation between uniforms and achievement for the total sample, and for all but 1 school sector. Examination of structure of argument reveals that the erroneous claim results from misleading use of sector analysis. Simultaneous with The JER article, and on the basis of the same National Education Longitudinal Study: 1988 database, an Educational Testing Service article reported that no correlation exists between uniforms and achievement. The two articles are contrasted in this study. The effect of new communication technology in amplifying political uses of academic research is discussed. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


Give students an example of how to judge if a source has enough pertinent information to support a thesis.

Discuss examples and alternate suggestions for various thesis statements.

Students are given three articles and a thesis statement.

  • Does the information support the thesis?
  • Is there enough information to use in a research paper?
  • Do you think that the thesis is worth pursuing?

External Resources