ERIC Identifier: ED436187
Publication Date: 1998-06-00
Author: Schrock, Kathleen
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
Evaluation of World Wide Web Sites: An Annotated Bibliography.
Knowing what type of information is appropriate for particular purposes,
knowing how to find such information easily, and evaluating information, may be
called information literacy, digital literacy, media literacy, or
techno-literacy. Paul Gilster best defines the concept in his book, Digital
"Digital literacy is the ability to understand and use information in
multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via
computers... (Not) only must you acquire the skill of finding things, you must
also acquire the ability to use those things in your life. Acquiring digital
literacy for Internet use involves mastering a set of core competencies. The
most essential of these is the ability to make informed judgments about what you
find on-line." (Gilster, 1997)
Educators should feel comfortable searching and critically evaluating
information found on the Internet before trying to teach these important skills
to students. One of the best ways educators can practice critical evaluation of
Internet sources is by conducting searches on topics with which they are
familiar. Search strategies, including keyword list formulation and Boolean
combinations, should come easily because the educators will have expertise in
the chosen topic areas. Using one of the evaluation checklists reviewed below,
teachers should be able to evaluate sites critically, examine the technical
aspects of the site, the authority of the writer, and the validity of the
writer's content. At the end of the evaluation, when the entire process is
completed, teachers should ask themselves whether the site provides the
information they need to solve their information problem. If it did not, they
should ask themselves how the process could be varied to obtain the needed
results. Self-assessment at the end of the information seeking process is a
higher-order thinking skill that students and teachers should understand and
apply. Critical evaluation of information can be applied to all information
sources including World Wide Web sites.
WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF EVALUATION FOR
EJ 524 769
Scott Brandt. Evaluating information on the Internet. Computers in Libraries.
May 1996. In the context of describing the components of a bibliographic
instruction course at the Purdue University Libraries, this article deals with
the adaptation of traditional print evaluation techniques to the Internet
environment. One intriguing part of the article includes a discussion of the
relationship between searching for information, the evaluation of sources, and
the lack of correlation between the two.
Marsha and Jan Alexander. Teaching critical evaluation skills for World Wide Web
resources. Computers In Libraries. Nov/Dec 1996. Tate and Alexander's article
presents a college level bibliographic instruction lesson plan dealing with the
evaluation of Web sites. The article also outlines the concept of evaluating
different types of Web pages with differing sets of criteria. Criteria and
examples are given for an advocacy page, a business/marketing page, an
informational page, a news page, and a marketing page. More of their work may be
found on the web at http://www.widener.edu/%20following%20the%20Library%20link.%20
Nancy. Web page evaluation: Views from the field. Technology Connection.
May/June 1997, p. 24-26. In an article targeted towards school library media
specialists and their use of the Internet to support curriculum, Everhart
outlines nine categories one should become familiar with when evaluating Web
sites. She draws her criteria from other evaluation sources on the Internet,
some of which are discussed in the article, and discusses evaluation from a
school-based perspective (i.e. "Information is presented in short enough
segments so it can be printed out without backing up the system for other
Ann K. Sizing up sites: How to judge what you find on the web. School Library
Journal, April, 1997, p. 22-25. Using a common sense approach, Symons offers
some practical tips to help librarians find Internet sites that are worthwhile.
She suggests looking at the home pages of other schools and libraries to see
what other teaching professionals have found worthy of adding to their sites.
This article also includes criteria for evaluation of sites, and suggests
librarians rate some sites and share the results of these ratings with other
professionals via the Web and professional journals.
Barbara I., et.al. Creating web pages: Is anyone considering visual literacy?
January 1997. Concentrating on a narrow area of the evaluation of Web pages,
this article contains information dealing with the examination of the design,
graphics, text aesthetics, and functionality of Web pages. The authors contend
that visual design should be an important factor in the development of Web
pages. They present the findings of a survey of both commercial and K-12 sites,
and list recommended standards for the design of Web pages. This area of
evaluation is important for one to consider when choosing a site to support the
curriculum, as well as when designing new Web pages.
Kelly R. A Delphi study to ascertain evaluation guidelines for business
resources on the Internet. March 1995. This study includes the results of a
survey given to Internet users to ascertain why certain Internet pages were
chosen to be used instead of others. The two-page survey, if updated to reflect
current Internet tools, could be a useful pre- and post assessment instrument
for high school students to complete to compare the usefulness of both print and
non-print sources, and to compare free Internet services versus subscription
Steven, et.al. User and system-based quality criteria for evaluating information
resources and services available from federal websites: Final report. June 1997.
Although targeted towards the evaluation of Federal Web sites, the multiple
instruments used to rate the presentation, content, technical, and policy issues
of these sites is easily adaptable to other types of sites. The inclusion of a
lengthy bibliography, as well as results of focus group discussions, leads the
reader to understand the importance of systematic evaluation and assessment of
WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF TEACHING WEB SITE EVALUATION
When students learn to evaluate information on the Internet to
determine whether the resources available online meet their needs, they should
be reminded that traditional print or offline material may meet their
requirements in ways Internet resources may not. They should realize what the
Internet is not, in order to realize what it can offer them.
Teaching critical evaluation of Internet sites and information is best
conducted when students have "real" projects to do. An evaluation lesson can
become a natural extension to term papers or WebQuests (Dodge, 1995), which
require students to use Web resources in addition to print resources. When the
library media specialist and the academic teacher work together, the student
will be assisted by both the subject specialist (the teacher who knows the
content) and the information specialist (the library media specialist who knows
how to find the information).
Kirk. The internot: Helping library patrons understand what the Internet is not.
Computers in Libraries. June 1995, p. 22-24. Doran contends that it is effective
to "contrast the reality of the Internet with perceptions that the patron
already holds" to help library users understand when to turn to the Internet for
information. Although he takes a negative stance ("The Internet is not fast."),
the overall tone of the article is positive, and provides some good points for
students to consider.
Kathleen. It must be true: I found it on the Internet. Technology Connection.
September 1996, p. 12-14. Schrock outlines a lesson plan for teaching critical
evaluation of Web sites in the library media center. She starts by outlining the
critical evaluation criteria and then edits a credible page into six different
versions, some of which contain incorrect knowledge. The students work in groups
to evaluate the printed copies of the site. The article includes a series of
evaluation guides for each level of students.
Mary Ann. Misinformation on the Internet: Applying evaluation skills to online
information. Emergency Librarian. January-February 1997, p. 9-14. Fitzgerald
describes the premise of misinformation, and explains how one should evaluate
Internet information. She outlines nine skills including those that can be used
to teach the critical evaluation process. Several unique suggestions are
included, such as allowing students to recognize that their own biases often
cause ready acceptance when a site's premise agrees with their own. Learning
more about content areas by offline reading and browsing, before the online
search process begins, is presented as a necessary skill.
Ann and Carol Ivers. An Internet research model. June 1996. Barron and Ivers
present a research model for incorporating relevant and meaningful Internet
activities in the K-12 classroom. This article deals with the
information-gathering process and the sorting, sifting, and evaluation of what
is found. Based loosely on Eisenberg and Berkowitz's "Big Six" Model (Eisenberg,
1990), the basic and advanced research processes for online searching are
succinctly outlined. The evaluation section explains that the student may need
to repeat the cycle again if an adequate answer to their information problem is
The amount of information available to students
from all sources, both offline and online is increasing rapidly. Educators
should teach students the processes involved in the critical evaluation of Web
sites as they should teach critical evaluation of all information resources.
Once students master skills for determining the accuracy, authority, and
authenticity of Web resources, it is just as important that they take the
process to the next level, and judge the applicability of the information found
on the Web to the purpose at hand-their own information problem. This process
could lead to a nation of information-savvy and information-literate consumers
of this new resource.
Dodge, B. (1995, Summer). WebQuests: A technique
for Internet-based learning. "Distance Educator," 1(2), 10-13. (EJ 518 478)
Eisenberg, M.B. & Berkowitz, R.E. (1990). "Information problem solving:
The Big Six Skills approach to library & information skills instruction."
New Jersey: Ablex (ED 330 374)
Gilster, P. (1997). "Digital literacy." New York: Wiley.
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