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Assessing Web Site Credibility

This modelling the tools is incorporated into critical challenges at grades 6, 10, 11 and 12, however, it can be adapted for use at all grade levels.


Session One

Introduce the concept of credibility.
Lead a class discussion on the criteria that students currently use to determine the credibility of Web sites. Ask students to provide examples that support their criteria. The list may include:

  • authorship
  • perspective
  • consistency with experts
  • documentation of sources
  • currency
  • mechanics
  • usability.

Record student-suggested conditions on the board under the title "Criteria for Credible Information."

Assessing criteria for judging credibility

  • Lead a class discussion on the relationship between "author" and "authority" by considering the following questions:
    • What does it mean to say that someone is an author?
    • What does it mean to say that someone is an authority on a topic?
    • Are all authors credible authorities on their topic? Why not?
    • Under what conditions would an author be an authority?
  • Invite students to extend and apply criteria for credible authorities by assessing several fictitious Internet sites. Display the chart Credible Web Site Authorities? and discuss each example as a class. Alternatively, distribute a copy to each student or pair of students. If completing the activity orally, after reading each example ask students to indicate their rating using the "fist of five" technique. Students hold up any number of fingers from five (which is the highest rating) to a closed fist (which is zero, the lowest rating). Ask students to provide reasons for their rating and, if they decide the authorship of the Web site is not very credible, to suggest a more appropriate author or source of information for researching the topic.
  • Consider repeating this process for the other criteria on the list.

Pose the critical task.

  • When students understand some of the relevant factors for assessing credibility, introduce the critical challenge:

Assess the credibility of Internet sites on a current research topic.

Explain the assignment.

  • Distribute the graphic organizer Evaluating Web Site Credibility to each student or pair of students. Explain the criteria that students should consider by referring to the information in the left column. Ask students to add more criteria. Adjust the chart to align with the list of criteria generated by the students.
  • Provide students with the Web sites to assess, either by distributing print copies or by providing the URLs for students to access on a computer. Model the process for completing the chart. Students should collect specific evidence relevant to each criterion. Students then rate the Web site using the question prompts provided. If you are asking students to compare two or more Web sites, students will use a separate chart for each site. Provide students with the Rubric for Evaluating Web Site Credibility to guide their work and assist with formative assessment.


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Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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