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GEL 101 Library Module - PASO

3. Evaluating Websites - Activity

Now that you've learned about the VQE method, you're going to practice applying it to evaluating some websites -- first some sample websites and then some of your own. 

Icon of a website with a star in a circle

Instructions:

  1. Visit each of the sample websites on the next tab.
  2. Take notes as you evaluate each website using the VQE method. Make sure to follow the prompts included in the "Evaluation" tab for things to think about for Visual, Quality, and Ethos. You may also think of questions on your own that you want to answer during your evaluation. 
  3. Keep your notes to discuss during the librarian Zoom session with your class. 

 

Next: Click on the "Evaluation" tab.

Who, What, When, Where, Why, How

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1. Click on each of the links below to open up the sample websites in a new window. 

Website 1: Is college worth it?

Website 2: First-Generation Students

2. In your notebook or on your computer, answer the following questions about the two websites:

Visual

  1. What kind of source is it? Try to figure out the type of web source it is -- for instance, is it a personal blog? A newspaper? A scholarly journal article? A social media post? 
  2. Who made it? Look for an author or the owner of the site.  

Quality

  1. What is the author's or site owner's expertise? Do they have the "right to write" about this topic? What is their personal, educational, and/or professional experience? (You might have to do some searching online to figure this out.)
  2. Where did they get their information? Look for sources in the text, or a reference list. If it is original information, think about how the information might have been created. 
  3. Who is the intended audience? How can you tell? Read through the source to try and find clues to answer this question. (BIG HINT: Just because they're talking about students in the websites, students might not be their intended audience.)
  4. How is the information reviewed prior to being published? You might have to do some digging to find this out, or make an educated guess. 

Ethos

  1. Why does this information, or site, exist? What is its purpose? The "About" page may give you clues, but you might want to do some online searching to learn more. 
  2. Who has funded the site? Look again at the "About" page. 
  3. Does the author have any sort of financial interest in persuading you one way or another? Ask yourself - will anyone make money if they convince the reader of their perspective?
  4. What bias does the author or site owner have? This will be the hardest to identify. Start by looking for a distinct perspective, or an asserted opinion. Keep in mind that everyone has biases; what we're interested in here is whether the information presented is slanted -- are they trying to get you to ignore evidence in any way? WHY?

 

Next: Click on the "Background Sources Assignment" tab

Are these websites "good"?

Now that you've visited both websites and applied the VQE method, ask yourself: would I use either of these sites (the opinion piece from USA Today and the College Board Website) for general background information for a GEL research assignment? One? Both? Why or why not?

 

Next, find sources on your own topic for your GEL research assignment. 

  1. Find TWO web sources that will help you to understand your research topic better. (This will likely mean that you need to look at more than the first two results in the list.)
  2. Use the V-Q-E method to evaluate these sources to make sure that they're credible enough for you to use for your assignment. (You can use the same questions from the sample websites example.)
  3. BE READY TO DISCUSS THE SAMPLE WEBSITES AND THE SOURCES YOU FOUND DURING THE ZOOM SESSION WITH THE LIBRARIAN. 

Next: Click on the "Review" tab.

Let's review! During this lesson, we learned:

  • how to evaluate information resources using the Visual, Quality, Ethos assessment technique
  • that the VQE technique can be used as you search for resources for your GEL research assignments, as well as any other information you may encounter. 

And remember, you can always ask a librarian for help if you're not sure about the sources you've found!

Next: Proceed to 4: Scholarly Superpowers (and maybe take a quick break first!)