iamliterate - thinking

Critical Thinking:

Why evaluate sources?
Task Taskonomy
Scaffolding Questions
Reading a URL
Evaluating the Source

John Dewey(1933) defined the nature of reflective thought as "active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends"

Kathy Schrock has several guides that may be of use as well. Check out - http://school.discoveryeducation.com/schrockguide/evalelem.html

Why Evaluate Sources?

  • Anyone with any purpose can publish
  • Quality varies
  • No quality control
  • No standards / No vetting process

Task Taskonomy

Bernie Dodge - (webquests) promotes the following for creating questions that require increasing critical thinking.

Bernie Dodge suggest an increasing value for the following tasks in internet research. Where do the above questions rank.
Bernie Dodge suggest an increasing value for the
following tasks in internet research.

• Retelling
• compilation
• Mystery
• Journalistic
• Design Task
• Creative Product
  • Consensus building
  • Persuasion
  • Self-Knowledge
  • Analytical
  • Judgment
  • Scientific

Jamie McKenzie has focused on creating Slam Dunk Lessons. These are based on creating critical questions to investigate things such as text or images. Check out http://questioning.org/module2/5types.html


Scaffolding Questions

You should scaffold their research with questions and tools such as:
Scaffold their research. As they get better, remove some of it

Which hurricane was the worst
Damage / $




China: Which Dynasty was best to live in as a commoner?
Life Expectancy / Health

[[#URL|Reading a URL]] Reading a URL

When you are searching and find a site, the URL can tell you a lot about what you have found. Here are some of the basics on reading a URL. (URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator - or standard way of locating sites)

http: - This is the starting code that tells the browser to expect Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.

tilde - When you find a ~ in the address, it usually means that it is a personal site. While there may be restrictions on the information that a teacher or university professor publishes, there may not be. The ~ can indicate that even if it comes from a 'reliable looking' site, it may not be.

www - Stands for World Wide Web. This is now optional for many websites.

.com - The last period and set of letters before any / represents the type of domain. In this case it is .com which stands for .commercial. There continues to be additional domain extensions, most recently .tv and many others. Check Wikipedia for a list of Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)

www.domainname.com - The part between www and the extension is called the top level domain. This may tell you who the site belongs to and you can use it to search for who owns / manages the domain.

/directory_name - each series of /name represents a directory on a server.

/pagename - the last /name represents the actual name of the page you are trying to view.

.html - This stands for hypertext markup language.

.xml, .php - These and other extensions are specific pages that interact with a server to modify the page viewed.

[[#questions|Questions]] Evaluating Sources

Once you find a website you like, you also need to be confident that you know about the information you are getting. It can be helpful to read the URL to learn more about the source.

  1. Who is the author?
  2. What biases are likely in the source?
  3. When was the source last updated?
    1. What were previous versions of the site
  4. Who links to the site you have found?
  5. Do other sources verify or confirm this information?

Who is the author?

Does the page tell you who the author is? Can you confirm that this is the author?
If a page does not list the author, you can
You may also try http://www.easydns.com/
With this site you can see who owns and manages sites

What biases are likely in the source?

Is the information biased?
Is the information one-sided?
Why was the page written?
Is there advertising? Can you easily tell advertisement from content?

When was the source last updated?

Does the page display - Date Last Updated?

You can also go to the 'way back machine' at http://www.waybackmachine.org
If you look at SFU.ca, you can go all the way back to 1997

Who links to the site you have found?

In Google you can use the 'site:' command with a URL to see who links to that page.
Try entering site:fcweb.sd36.bc.ca/~amboe_k

and see who links to my page. As of August 17, 2007 there are 440 links.

For Altavista.com, the command is link:fcweb.sd36.bc.ca/~amboe_k

Do other sources verify or confirm this information?

Does the information align with what is already know or supported with other research?

Looking for other resource for working with students validating information?

Hoaxes and Learning Opportunities

Creating a Credible Website.

Stanford University supports a site that lists 10 ways to boost web credibility. You can use these 10 suggestions to assess a site's credibility too.
The 10 items have been tweaked to look at credibility from the viewer instead of creator.
  1. Is the information easy to verify the accuracy?
  2. Is a real organization behind the creation of the site?
  3. Is the expertise of the organization highlighted?
  4. Are honest and trustworthy people associated with the site?
  5. Is it easy to find contact information?
  6. Is the design appropriate to its purpose?
  7. Is the site easy to access and use?
  8. Does the site display the date last updated?
  9. Do adverstisements interfere or conflict with content?
  10. Is the site free of errors?
For more details, see http://www.webcredibility.org/guidelines/index.html (Fogg,2002)

Activities for Students
When creating activities for students let's consider creating opportunities to:

  1. Differentiate between fact and opinion.
  2. Examine the assumptions, including your own.
  3. Be flexible and open minded as you look for explanations, causes, and solutions to problems.
  4. Be aware of fallacious arguments, ambiguity, and manipulative reasoning.
  5. Stay focused on the whole picture, while examining the specifics.
  6. Look for reputable sources.
(http://www.library.ucsb.edu/untangle/jones.html) (Jones, 1996)

Lets check out these three topics
Martin Luther King - If you are having difficulty opening the first link - try here

All Explorers:

The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

See also Searching Techniques

More on Critical Thinking

Here are some additional links relating to Critical Thinking that are stored in Del.icio.us

Dewey, J. 1933. Experience and education. p. 9. Macmillan, New York.