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Information Literacy in the Curriculum

The Framework and Online Tutorials

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Learning Goals

  • Students recognize that credibility may vary by context and information need.

  • Students understand the importance of critically assessing a source's credibility.

  • Students are able to identify how a credible source could be used for a particular need.

Assignment Ideas (UW Research 101)

1. Ask students to find several scholarly sources on the same topic that take very different stands. How was it that the authors came to different conclusions? Does it have to do with authority?

2. Have students look at a blog, a video on YouTube, a collection of tweets, or some other type of social media regarding a contemporary event (e.g. demonstrations at Tahrir Square during the "Arab Spring" events). Ask them to describe how they would analyze and evaluate the authority of the author(s) of the information. Are there ways to determine whether the individual was an actual witness or participant in the events? Are there ways to identify whether the individual or group that developed a collection of information has a particular political bias? Can they determine whether the author(s) has a particular status within the group s/he represents or is the individual reporting as an "average citizen"?

Assessment Ideas

These questions can be added to Canvas as a graded homework assignment. A librarian embedded in your course can create, grade, and provide feedback.

  1. When assessing the credibility of a source what are important factors to think about? Choose all that apply:
    1. Who is the author?
    2. What is the author's purpose
    3. What are you using the information for?
    4. When was this written?
  2. Which of the following sources might have credible information?
    1. A scholarly article
    2. A page from the CIS's World Factbook website
    3. A blog post from a leading scholar in your field
    4. All of the above
  3. You need a reliable source for a blog you are writing about saving the habitat of your favorite animal, the snow leopard. Which of the following sources would be most credible?
    1. A Wikipedia article on snow leopards
    2. A tweet from your mom
    3. A government document on snow leopard population
    4. A news article from an environmental group