With so much information available through different sources (websites, newspapers, magazines, journals) and not all of it equally credible it is important to know how to think critically about the various aspects of an information source.
We will be learning about a method called VQE, which includes three levels of evaluation:
1. Visual: surface level
2. Quality: just below the surface
3. Ethos: deep dive
Whether you know it or not, you engage in these levels of information pretty frequently -- every time you meet a new person, read something on the internet, or any other time you encounter a piece of new information.
Let’s use the analogy of water sports to see how we can apply the Visual Quality Ethos method of information evaluation:
This is very quick, at a glance evaluation. Evaluating information visually is only sufficient when it doesn’t matter what source you use (e.g. argument with friends, where the Starbucks is, general knowledge).
Things that you can quickly notice visually on source:
This level of evaluation is about determining credibility, basic purpose, content. This is the minimum level of evaluation for any source you want to use in college, whether it is for a class discussion, or for a more formal assignment.
Things that you might need to dig a little deeper to find out about a source’s quality:
Ethos in this case is referring to its “ethical appeal” -- what are they trying to convince you of, and why? When we try to evaluate the ethos of a source, we need to dig really deep and ask “big” questions.
Things you can ask yourself to determine the ethos of a source: